NEUROSCIENCE, ANTHROPOLOGY, SOCIOLOGY
My study with the Neuroleadership Institute, founded by Dr. David Rock, has brought me to a better understanding of how the coaching process affects and interacts with the brain. In the last decade, Neuroscience has shown that the brain has plasticity, the ability to change. We can change the way we think, act, and respond. Coaching helps to uncover the brain's patterns developed over years of habit forming. Through mutually respectful dialogue, I am able to set the stage for you to gain new insights and take new actions. In addition to Neuroscience, Anthropology and Sociology offer me a holistic understanding of how culture, values, beliefs, community and social context can tackle the question of what it means to be human. The coaching conversation takes a world view through your eyes. I will examine and challenge your basic assumptions with a holistic view to create more new possibilities for you.
Example: Sally brings up a confrontational conversation she has had with a co-worker that reports to her in a coaching session. The co-worker was upset about her performance evaluation and was yelling. Sally recalls that she felt her body tighten, her hands got clammy, and she held her breath. Neuroscience research tells us that Sally has been hijacked by her primitive part of her brain; hormones are being secreted to shut down the functions in her frontal brain which helps her think strategically. Instead, thoughts from her long term memory come up, patterns of memory which have been ingrained over many years. She thinks, “I did something wrong, I feel ashamed, I think she’s mad and doesn’t like me.” Sally freezes and internalizes the situations as more negative stories pile on. I question Sally, “Where did you get this belief that you are doing something wrong? How did you come to that conclusion?” Through a process of reflection, Sally has an insight. The confronting conversation triggered a negative response for Sally. She felt threatened. The thought of someone upset at her and potentially not liking her sent her to a place that was familiar in her past and she froze. She can now see that her response was not helping her with this situation and with her co-worker. I asked her to further reflect on what other ways she could have responded to this confrontation. She paused and thought about some breathing exercises she had been practicing. She reflected that the breathing calmed her in other stressful situations. It hadn’t occurred to her in this situation because her response in this case was so immediate. She felt her body sensations first, as they felt real. She thought some more and responded, “I could have used those body sensations as a prompt to pause and take a breath or two. I could also have asked my co-worker to let me take a moment to gather my thoughts. Those moments could give me the time to calm myself down, listen to what she was saying, and let her vent before proceeding with a conversation.” Learning some key elements about our brain functions will help you become more self aware of how and why you respond to situations and people. With practice, patience, and support you will learn how to change your old way of thinking.