4 things to think about if your ‘rude’ coachee isn’t really being rude

Imagine your first conversation with a new coachee… The ‘problem’ is said to be low Emotional Intelligence. According to your coachee, he or she’s been described as having a distinct lack of empathy for others and a tendency to be overly blunt in interactions with work colleagues. cartoon of 3 consultants talkingThe coachee now doubts him or herself, is wary of interpersonal interaction for fear of being perceived as overbearing and rude, and wants help with this chronic ‘rudeness’ in order to improve his or her chances of moving into management.

Looks like an open and shut case? Let’s not be too hasty. Before we as coaches unthinkingly accept the story at face value, decide this ‘rudeness’ is ‘wrong’, and allow ourselves to fall into thinking of ways to assist the coachee with anger management or improve sensitivity to the feelings and needs of others, do we need to stand back and take a deep breath? Might there be a missing ingredient in the scenario described above?

What if ‘being rude’ in this case was not actually ‘being rude’ at all? What if, rather than being chronically rude, our coachee has been grappling with the difficulties of adjusting to the communication norms of a different culture?

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Book Thoughts – The Geography of Thought by Richard E Nisbett

Richard E. Nisbett’s The Geography of Thought. How Asians and Westerners Think Differently… and Why  isn’t a book about coaching. So why discuss it on a coaching-orientated blog?

The Geography of Thought book coverThe clue is in the subtitle – How Asians and Westerners Think Differently… and Why. As a coach, I’m profoundly interested in how people think. I spend my time in coaching sessions listening, absorbing non-verbal communication, reflecting back my understandings, identifying limiting self-beliefs, challenging… To be effective, all this needs to be based on understanding the coachee’s ‘world’ from the coachee’s point of view. If there’s firm evidence that people from different cultures and areas of the world really do think and see things differently, then I want to know about it…

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