This morning in my coaching session with a client, the image of an actress on stage filled the conversation. As a child, my client had acted in dramatic and musical school productions, always being cast in the lead female roles. She recounted the thrill of learning to embody old or crazy women. Elements of these roles were quite foreign to her natural shyness but taking them on enabled her to stretch her reserve into an unexpected, powerful presence.
Fast forward to the present where my client is an executive woman surrounded by disapproving, judgmental colleagues. She is spearheading a new project where her expertise is vital for the project to succeed. Each time she presents her vision or the project, criticism abounds. The criticisms have grown to the point where my client’s capacity to speak out is failing under the weight of the disapproval.
After hearing the latest story of the project’s challenges, I intuited that my next step as her coach was to support my client reconnecting with some of her strength. I asked her to tell me what enabled her to be so successful as an actress earlier in life. After responding with the process she used to learn her lines, map out her placement on the stage and connect with the other actors, she paused and then added with a sound of surprise in her voice, “I just fell in love with something in each of the characters I portrayed. I looked for the part that I could care for and everything else happened naturally.”
I didn’t say anything immediately, letting my client’s pause to generate more insight. Her voice broke the silence by asking, “I wonder if I need to fall in love with something in each of my colleagues now. Maybe that is what is missing. I think maybe I’ve been so wrapped up on being their audience… and giving them poor reviews at that!”
It’s gratifying to me to experience someone figuring out that her own judgment of others can keep her disconnected. It’s easy to find fault with those around us, but often it is our attitude that helps to feed the attitudes in others.
Where is an opportunity in your life to shift judgment into falling in love? What can you uncover in your difficult colleague that may decrease your negative reaction to their behavior? And like my client, what is something in yourself that you can fall in love with all over again?