Guest blog by by Joseph Seiler, MCC Executive Coach X5 Management Inc.
US Vice Presidential candidate, Dan Quayle, once offered a school class that alternate olde fashioned spelling with the ‘e’ on the end and was crucified in the media. Andrew Jackson said, “I hope never to meet a man so dull he could think of only one way to spell a word”. We are not really talking about spelling here, we are talking about differences between people.
“If every snowflake is different, and every fingerprint… and every zebra’s stripes – then why, oh why, are we arguing to agree all the time?” (Leslie Aileen Seiler)..…and insisting that others conform to doing it our way? The above quote from my daughter is a wonderful expression of one simple truth, that each of us is different and that the difference is a good thing. It is to our benefit to meet people where they are, not to insist they come to our view of the world.
When one offers to ‘help’ another, is it to help them become more like the helper or is it to help them become more fully themselves? Those two agendas are not the same. When considering lasting positive change, the kind that enhances one’s life forever, which agenda will accomplish the feat? I believe that meeting a person where they are and then helping them to go where they want to go, and to get them there in the way that is within their style, is the only true favour I can provide to them. This is true on the business journey as well as in personal travels through life. So, in business, ‘telling’ is a poor second choice to ‘asking’.
The business advisor who simply tells is likely to be the one most attentive to what they are saying. Near to this ideal is that of encouragement. “Our chief want in life is somebody who shall make us do what we can.” Ralph Waldo Emerson. Here again, it is what the business owner/Executive is not fully embracing of their own inherent ability that is asking to be called forth, not the image of the helper or the image of anyone else, no matter how great a hero or heroine they might be.
I love the formula that puts the relationship first. From the understanding, empathy, celebration of difference, that arises from relationship the helper can ask the very best questions to ‘make us do what we can’, to help us to our own next level in spite of that niggling little critic that speaks inside of us all. You say tomato, I say tomatoe, yes! Just sayin’