Coaching Tip – Getting the full picture

There is an old saying that a picture paints 1,000 words. When clients, colleagues, partners or staff paint you a picture it pays to listen very carefully as they are presenting you the opportunity to understand, predict and influence their behavior. The picture they paint will often come in the form of a metaphor.


Metaphors are stimulated by the imagination and reflect a lot about the person’s thoughts, beliefs and feelings in just a few words. The exciting thing about recognizing and responding to metaphors is that you can understand then motivate change with similarly few words. You first listen for the metaphor and you respond to what is being said using this same metaphor.


Let’s look at an example of how this may be applied. You are talking to someone who is facing a challenge when they say to you; ‘It’s a tough situation, I feel like I have been dealt a pretty ordinary hand’. You recognize the metaphor and respond by saying; “Good card players can win, even with an ordinary hand”.  


In a few words, you have made a huge difference for this person. You have opened up the canvas, to use another metaphor, and they will most likely see a range of possibilities where before they saw none.


Thoughts, feelings and beliefs are powerful in terms of their effect on our behavior. Language is the exciting medium through which you get to influence these thoughts, feelings and beliefs, and therefore the resulting behavior.


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