How Do You Feel About That?

One of our best coaches did a coach development call with me today.  In these sessions we have our coaches coach us and give them feedback.  Coaches rarely get specific or honest feedback so they consider it a gift (it is optional and they sign up).  At the end of today’s call my ‘coach’ asked me how something felt.

I had to laugh, because one of the hallmarks of my personality type  (ISTP) and something I have learned quite late in life is that at any given moment I generally have no idea how or what I am feeling.  I have actually learned to not act on my emotions until I can figure out what the heck they are. OK – most of the time – when my kids were little I would give myself ‘time-outs’ so I wouldn’t behave in ways that were confusing to all of us.   So for me the question is not useful or relevant unless I am devoting a coaching session to understand my feelings, which is rare, as I have other forums for those conversations.

This seems to be true for most of my clients too – CEO’s, CFO’s, scientists, engineers do not respond favorably when asked how they are feeling.  They are much more interested in and comfortable with a conversation about what they are thinking.  If they are actually feeling something that provides them with new information they will always volunteer it. Or if I sense there is something going on with them that they haven’t quite pin- pointed that might provide some insight I’ll ask “What is going on for you right now?”  It is just that asking straight out never seems to get to the desired result.

As a big fan of therapy and a veteran of the Jungian type, I hate to say it, but the popularization of “how do you feel about that?” or “how does that make you feel?” has kind of turned it into a bit of a joke that coaches can’t afford to use. 

Very interested in opinions about this.

2 thoughts on “How Do You Feel About That?

  1. I agree there is a way of asking the question which makes me cringe. The caricature in my imagination is definitely of someone asking “How do you FEEL about that?”

    From my perspective it’s also possible to check out a client’s feelings if appropriate by using a different form of words like the ones you describe. The words chosen will be a natural extension of the rapport between coach and client, and will be modified by the coach’s knowledge of the client. I will often take the lead from the client’s own language which will give a strong indication of whether they’re in thinking or feeling mode. I may ask a queston from the other perspective to gain a different viewpoint – but it will be intentional.

    I agree it’s not a question to be asked routinely.

  2. So, you want to know how I feel about that question? (I couldn’t resist saying that.) Actually, I’m more intrigued by your statement that as an ISTP the question causes you pause…I happen to be categorized as an ENFJ and I absolutely concur with your amazement with the query! I’d say it was a self conscious statement by the coach. A great caution for all of us–keep the attention on the person being coached, period!

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