Blog: A coaching conversation


A coaching conversation

Data when used as a tool to make interesting conversations leaves necessary impact on the listener. Try the 'FDF' model:
A coaching conversation

How many times have you come out of a conversation particularly with an employee feeling that it didn’t quite go the way you would liked it to? Perhaps you were too abrupt. Perhaps what you had to say did not have the necessary impact on the employee. Let me share a couple of examples: “I gave him all the facts but it didn’t seem to sink in, complained one manager.” “I was most considerate and spoke to him ever so kindly” said another. Both were right- and both were wrong.

One approach which has helped me a lot and that I advocate for you to try is what I call “FDF” -feelings-data-feelings being the sequence in which you build a coaching conversation. If, while trying to cross the road, I am hit by a speeding motorist and am lying on the road, what do I want first? I would want assurance that help is at hand. I want to be comforted that I am ok and will be taken care off. In short I want someone to take care of my feelings.

What is the last thing I want? The last thing I want when I am groaning in pain is a lot of data. I don’t want to be told- even if it be true- that I was the 458th person to be hit in the last 379 days. 56 per cent being hit by cars and 32 per cent by trucks. Or that 69 per cent were hospitalised for more than 15 days and 31 per cent for between 10-15 days and so on. Your facts may be right but I am in no frame of mind to receive- leave alone accept- them!

So we go back to FDF- Feelings-Data-Feelings. We begin with appealing to the feelings. We might say, for example, “Hey! I know it’s tough for you to have gone through this. Is it hurting you too much? Is there something I can do for you?” and so on. Later on when I have been given medical attention, you might share data. “You know something, it just doesn’t make sense for someone like you to cross the road over at that place. It has the highest density of traffic for the city( toss in a few figures), the biggest number of causalities ( more numbers thrown in)” etc. This will have the desired impact.

At the end, we again close with feelings, not with data. We might say, “So take care. You are in safe hands. If you want anything, just give me a buzz”. You don’t leave by throwing more data. “See you then, don’t forget that 45 per cent had head injuries” or “Remember 35 per cent didn’t survive the accident”. We close with feelings again. “If there is anything at all you need, let me know.” or “Keep what we talked of in mind. If you need more information or help, feel free to call me” etc.

I may add that it works in the case of irate customers as well! Try “FDF”- it works.

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Topics: Leadership, Learning & Development, Culture

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