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From the coaching couch

Being human, the empathy gap and burnout!
Lisa pink 0557 RET 2

Hello there everyone

It’s been a very big few weeks here at The Coach Place head office. We’ve delivered coaching sessions, masterclasses and workshops and have consulted across Australia, Asia, the US and UK. This gives us an amazing worldview of some of the hot topics coming up for individuals, teams and organisations. Our work creates an opportunity for us to collaborate with, as well as talk and listen to, people across various industries and countries. We've also been hearing from lots of coaches and experts in their fields. There are three conversations that seem to be on repeat and today we're sharing those with you. We’ve also had feedback that many of you find TED Talks easy reference points to use later if you want more information, so we've included three for you below to help you further your learning.

1. The language of humans
Being a grown-up can be complex and messy. If you reflect on the times you’ve felt happy and understood, it’s probably involved willing, generous and trusted communicators. Right now, so many of us are looking for real connection. Leaders and HR professionals have been talking to us a lot about creating a sense of belonging and community in the workplace. That’s a conversation that’s always being had – the question of how to create a culture that’s inclusive, healthy and high performing has always been on the agenda, but we’re now facing new challenges as a result of COVID-19, shifting technologies and more. Language is not just about words, and the language we use needs to translate across all situations and platforms, including Zoom. We have slang, shortcuts and emojis that increase the risk of communication breakdown, but these forms of communication are still both valid and valued. It’s a time for master communicators to rise. It’s a time to very deliberately learn about how you talk, connect and build trust. I absolutely loved this TED Talk by Poet Ali (14:46), in which he explains how language is about so much more than just words.

2. The empathy gap
Gosh! So many of you are thinking about your future and that of our planet. The past 15 months have been polarising to say the least. The fatigue and apathy for some is real. Opportunists are thriving. Realists are making plans and optimists are sure this is the wake-up call we all needed. We’ve noticed a significant increase in people knowing they want life to be different, but finding it really challenging to imagine what else is possible. Derek Antony Parfit (FBA) was a British philosopher who specialised in personal identity, rationality and ethics. He is widely considered one of the most important and influential moral philosophers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He said: “We might neglect our future selves because of some failure of belief or imagination”. (I first used this quote years ago and it seems to be getting even more relevant as it ages.) When you’re young, it’s really hard to believe you will ever be a 40-something adult. Our brain thinks about our future self like it thinks about a stranger. We're curious and willing to look, but it somehow doesn’t really make sense. This is one way we coaches talk about the 'empathy gap': our limited ability to care about the future because it doesn’t really involve us now. This goes some way to explaining why some people don’t feel connected to issues such as climate change. If it doesn’t affect me now or in my lifetime, I’m not going to dedicate myself to it now. I have never done so many 'future self visualisation coaching sessions' in such a short period of time. Yes! That’s an actual thing. This is the closest TED Talk (07:01) I could find that explores this topic. There is a focus on younger people, but it’s relevant to all and Meg Jay is highly respected for her global views.

3. The big burnout
Lockdown has increased the working hours of so many people. Somehow, the time we used to spend commuting while scrolling podcasts and Instagram is now spent working. It’s still a bit early to have valid research on this, but certainly the signs are pointing to the fact that burnout is one of the side effects of COVID-19. Productivity is up, but creativity is down. Terms like ‘knowledge economy’ have been getting a real run. The huge focus we’ve had on output has not allowed for free-flowing and dynamic thinking. We’ve filled our days with more meetings than ever, and given that they’re mostly conducted online, we aren’t getting the chemistry feed to fuel our energy. This is definitely a time to refuel, explore what your workdays look like and to be clear about the consequences of not having time to just ‘be’. Here is a fab TED Talk (04:51) by digital anthropologist Rahaf Harfoush, who suggests that we need to redesign our workday around creativity, rather than just efficiency.

Take care everyone –

Lisa Stephenson, Founding Director, The Coach Place Global

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