I Want To Be Controversial
Sometimes in life you have to go against the grain a little. At certain points you have to find your own voice and cut through the white noise of consensus. Discourse and debate are what our world is built upon and the fundamental right of most humans on earth, although admittedly not nearly enough.
So, I’m just going to say it.
Zoom, Skype & Teams do not compare to being in the room with someone when coaching or performing change work with clients.
Now, I know we live in this rather peculiar world in which coaching via technology has been thrust upon us and to large extent we have embraced this change. I have even flirted with the idea that perhaps I’m just being a laggard on the Rogers Diffusion of Innovation model – but I think not? The chorus of consensus I have observed from many coaches, hypnotherapists, change workers etc claiming they now believe that working at distance, and via technology, is “as effective” or even “more effective” than being in the room with the client – this is definitely not my experience. The subtle shifts in the depth of breath and tiny colour changes, the small exchanges that take place in between the spoken word are often harder to notice with this technological distance. We know that much of human interaction is absorbed at the micro level and when teaching NLP we talk about the importance of sensory acuity and noticing the things that are often overlooked in communication. These nuances can be noticed on Zoom, my point is they’re more easily missed though. My suspicion is many of us are, as much trying to convince ourselves of the efficacy, as we are our potential clients?
Can coaching and change work be undertaken via video communication – absolutely yes.
Is it as effective, or more effective, than being in the room with the client – emphatically no.
For me personally, I suspect there is a more subtle societal issue rising from this Covid-19 pandemic, and to a large extent the not so subtle social conditioning taking place at a global scale. For a decade now humans have collectively been diluting their interpersonal and intrapersonal abilities. Our skills of human interaction and communication is being sacrificed at the altar of technological advancements that at pace outrun our natural evolution. The social media train has truly left the station and I’m not so sure who’s the driver? As agents of change, no matter what your title or tribe, we have a special responsibility as an oasis of human communication & interaction in a world that is rapidly becoming a barren desert of conversation. I am deeply concerned that the muted benefits of wearing masks throughout our days are contributing to the decline of basic human conversation – especially as much of our communication takes places with facial expressions.
Now, I do not put forward the solutions to these monumental challenges. The measurable balance between possible benefits of wearing masks, against the subtle long-term consequences to our already dwindling abilities to effectively interact with each other as humans, are yet to be fully understood. What I do know is we live in a time when we should be increasing connection, rather than perpetuating disconnection at a global level. In 2020 our world seems more divided than at any point in my memory and fundamentally our entire profession is about connection, both inwardly and outwardly for our clients.
The future is certainly bright for coaches of all descriptions, although it is difficult to see past the socially distanced world we currently cohabit. It has long been acknowledged that in times of uncertainty coaching professionals experience sustained business opportunities, not recession proof but certainly recession resistant. For me personally I am looking forward to when we can start enjoying a return to some resemblance of normality and re-connect with our clients as we once did – in person. Until then I will embrace Zoom and offer my coaching with 100% commitment and focus – I just refuse to accept it beats being in the same room.
Let us also be careful where we place our collective focus, we might be digging ourselves into a pit of disconnection. If we can agree that where focus goes energy flows should we not be holding our governments and media outlets accountable for the style and volume of their messaging – project fear is the breakfast, lunch and dinner of many information consumers.
Perhaps we should disconnect with the media & technology to reconnect with each other?
“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human spirit is coloured by such impressions.”
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