“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing” - Albert Einstein
I am always a little taken aback – although delighted by their candour – when delegates I am working with on coach development programmes say something along the lines of, “I just find it really difficult to stay engaged sometimes when they (the coachee) is talking. I’m not always very interested in what they are saying”. One common reason they give for losing focus is that they have “heard it all before” or perhaps they have been in a similar situation and have already thought of several solutions themselves.
You can’t fake being interested
Well, you possibly can fake being interested to someone who lacks social awareness but you can’t to most of us. The lack of focus in your eyes, a decline in affirmations, inaccurate para-phrasing and poor quality of questions are all indicators that you’ve stopped being curious. It is clear your attention has wandered.
In my experience I have seen that clients (the coachee) will usually pick this up very quickly and will often shorten their answers and can become disengaged themselves.
Find something to hold on to
If you have said that you can spend some time helping someone with a challenge they need to overcome or a goal they want to achieve, then you owe it to that individual to pay respect to their time and their situation. In some ways you would be better off saying you can’t spend time with them now and arrange an alternative date to do so if your feel you can’t commit yourself fully.
If you do have the time but often find your mind wandering here are three challenging questions you could ask yourself that might help raise your awareness about your loss of curiosity and help you remain fully present:
- What is the root cause for me losing my curiosity with this individual?
- Which elements of my loss of interest is down to my own ego and need to be at the centre of my own attention?
- When do I first notice that I have lost interest? (And what can I do to bring it back?)
The answers to these questions – and others you may want to ask yourself – should help keep you interested in what is going on.
Finally, a way I suggest to delegates to keep curious is by having a passionate interest in the human being who is sitting in front of them during coaching sessions coupled with an interest in their success. This usually works well, even if the subject under discussion is not something about which they find themselves naturally very curious.
Glenn Wallis is an experienced Executive Coach and Coach Developer who will help you improve your own results and those of your organisation. When you are ready to raise your performance to the next level, find out more here.