Friday, March 29, 2013

Becoming Enmeshed in the Story

I often speak of the power of stories.  Whether 10 words or 100, story is an account (usually 1st person) that is told for the purpose of being heard.  In coaching the “purpose of being heard” is the idea contained within the story.  When a client hears a story from the coach who is not attached to any particular response from the client, the client is free to grasp from the story whatever there is to grasp. 

Stories enliven a conversation … not long stories, not stories to prove something or be directive… but stories that somehow seem appropriate in the moment and simply appear seemingly from nowhere.  There is nothing inauthentic about a story … it is always the real deal … even when a name or organization cannot be mentioned.

There is an underside to storytelling that must be discerned.

It is easy to become enmeshed (entangled) within a story as it is told.  `Enmeshed` can become rather complicated as it`s not empathy although it can be sympathy wherein coach identifies strongly with the situation.

When coach and client become enmeshed in one another`s story the following can happen:

-          Coach ceases to be a partner and instead joins on the side of the client or situation

-          Client no longer has someone to listen without attachment or agenda (destroys the coach-client relationship)

-          Story can become a directive telling client how to behave or what to do

-          Coach asks informational questions far more often than helpful

 What do you think happens when coach becomes enmeshed in client`s story or expects client to become enmeshed in coach`s story?

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