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Coaching Agreements Part 3 | WBRC Solutions


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Coaching Agreements Part 3

Our previous two posts Part 1 Part 2 shared insights on coaching to the book, The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz. We introduced the First Agreement, Be impeccable with Your Word and the Second Agreement, Don’t take anything personally. Before we move on to the next agreement, how have things changed for you since learning about the first two. Did you find yourself taking things personally? Did you insist on being ‘right’ or did you choose to simply ‘be’? Is it still hard for you to take and receive feedback?

The third agreement builds off the first two.

Agreement 3: Don’t make assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstanding, sadness, and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.

While there is a time and place for assumptions, such as the innovation and creative processes, assumptions in human relationships can be deadly. Making assumptions sets us up for suffering.

When we assume others know what we’re thinking and feeling, we believe they will act just how we want. If they don’t, we feel righteous in saying, “You should have known.” The previous two agreements taught us that people think, behave, and act based solely on their own experiences. If we believe the first two agreements, why do we need this one?

Because every time people tell us something, we make assumptions. If they don’t tell us something, we make assumptions. We then make assumptions about their assumptions and the cycle goes on and on. We tell ourselves stories based on these assumptions and we perpetuate lies that aren’t really lies … we made it all up.

Silly, isn’t it? Yet we are all human and that’s how our brains are wired.

How do we break this cycle? All we need to do is ask questions to clarify our assumptions and then all becomes clear. This becomes the basis for good, clear communication.

And yet, questions come hard for us. How many times in our lives have we stifled our own creativity because we bring fear into our interactions with others. Our internal dialogue may be working against us: “If I ask this question, I won’t look smart. If I don’t look smart, the boss won’t trust me to make decisions. If the boss loses faith in me, she’ll fire me. If I lose my job, I won’t be able to provide for my family. I’ll have to go on unemployment and we won’t be able to go on vacation again this year. And on, and on, and on.”

Can we not agree to see that our ability to ask clarifying questions is exactly what might set us apart to our bosses? It can certainly help us in our personal relationships, why wouldn’t it also help in our work ones?

If we think back to our verbally abusive manager, what do you assume about that interaction? You assume he’s a bully, he’s uneducated, he’s a bad person, he must have been abused as a child, or he’s not a good manager. By assuming, we’re hooking our own emotions and doing it needlessly. None of those things may be true, but don’t we feel more righteous if they are?

Instead of jumping to those conclusions, ask questions instead. When put down, our first instinct is to blame others or fight back. How much more effective would that team meeting have been if instead of blame, we asked for help. “Here’s what I’m experiencing on my team. Has anyone else been seeing the same thing? How have you handled it?”

Questions get us to places assumptions never will.

To bring this agreement home to your client, ask him or her these questions:

  • Can you cite any situations where you made some incorrect assumptions? How have those assumptions affected your relationship with that person/people?
  • How does your internal dialogue impact the assumptions you make in your home life? Your work life?
  • Can you identify some ways you can shift or turn off your internal dialogue? What will change about your relationships if you do that?

Our next post will reveal the final agreement: Always do your best.

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