I learned a lesson about coaching from my real estate agent. It wasn't a lesson about coaching as much as it was about relationships, which of course is at the heart of coaching.
Our real estate agent, Shannon, helped us buy what we consider to be the perfect house and piece of property several years ago. While I'd like to think we weren't as demanding or self-absorbed as some couples she might work with, we still wanted to see a range of houses and get a feel for the market, and so she patiently drove us from house to house for weeks. When we found a place we thought we loved, she toured it with us for hours contemplating the pros and cons, and suggesting options without ever pushing her opinion. She was an exceptional listener, really looking at each of us as we spoke, weighing our comments before responding, and never interrupting.
But the biggest thing she did was making us feel like we were her only clients. I know for a fact that, in a market that was very depressed, she was closing on more houses than most other agents in the area - that's why we'd chosen her. So she obviously had quite a lot of other deals going on simultaneously. And yet she never mentioned them. She didn't leave us with, "I'm off to attend a closing" or say, "I've got to take this call from other clients." We felt like the center of her world.
As a coach juggling many teachers, it's tempting sometimes to join in the general complaints with others about how busy we all are. I've caught myself rushing a conversation by explaining where I needed to be next, or apologizing for not getting to an email because I was working with someone else.
Teachers don't want to know that. They want to feel like they're the center of our world. And they deserve to be, just as kids deserve to feel like they're the center of their teacher's world.
It's a basic human need, to be listened to and truly heard. We all value it when someone is looking us full in the face, considering everything we're saying, and not simply juggling multiple ongoing thoughts in their head as we talk. Someone said, and I'm paraphrasing here, "In America, we've lost the ability to have a true conversation. People no longer listen to each other. Instead, they reload."
Shannon taught me the value of setting everything aside and truly being wherever you are. For coaches, the teachers we work with deserve to feel like our number one priority