Direct Communication

As I embarked on my quest for spreading positive eating habits and the importance of nutrition, I realized that many shun away from this topic, thinking that I am trying to sell them some fancy diet program. That led me to assess the way I was sharing my messages. In my overzealousness and excitement, I latched on the the first hook and opportunity presented, straight-away jumping unto the moment, striking while the iron is hot. Of course, I got myself burned! It made me realize, that something so simple like eating habits and nutrition, is actually quite complex and complicated. Eating habits are driven by psychology, culture, habits, nuances, biological needs that pushes the comfort zone. With this current V.U.C.A. (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world, it seems that food is the last pedestal that people want to change for fear of totally losing themselves to the chaos!

Somehow, my new strategy seems to resonate and mirror with this module of Direct Communication, and the ICF Core Competency definitions. Be it on its own in the previous ICF Core Competencies OR part of the new ICF Core Competency – Evokes Awareness; Direct Communication is all about the ability to provide clarity, facilitate insights and learnings to have a positive impact on the client through various tools and skills.

In the sub-competencies of Evokes Awareness, four are closely linked to Direct Communication, explained below.

  1. Notices what is working to enhance the client’s progress
    • The coach focuses on the milestones of progress and provides support that is needed in case of any derailment from the client.
  2. Adjusts the coaching approach in response to the client’s needs
    • The coach adjusts the approach based on the needs, responding methodically to facilitate, rather than instructional.
  3. Helps the client identify factors that influence current & future patterns of behaviours, thinking and emotions
    • The coach is sensitive to pick-up words, behaviours that could be illustrations to the client’s limiting beliefs, values, and deeper emotions.
  4. Supports the client in reframing perspectives
    • The coach guides the reframing process, facilitates the creation of the new state, the new story of the client, rather than trying to forcing a square peg to a round hole.

So, back to my mission. Instead of excitedly sharing my thoughts and ideas on positive eating habits and nutrition (which are my truths), I patiently seek to understand people’s food choices, their favourite foods, and the representation / meaning of food to them. I acknowledged their choices, affirmed their progress and attempts, and struggles. I started being curious of the childhood connections of food to them, the entire physiological and psychological environment and landscape of food in relation to celebrations, stress, every day lives. Suddenly, I realized, one single food item, had various meanings and levels of value to different people. A burger is no longer a burger. A burger was a treat for doing well in exams, a burger was solace during parental separation, a burger was happy times with university friends, a burger was a first date, a burger was saving grace from suicide, a burger was kindness from a total stranger. A burger wasn’t just calories and fat content. It was a metaphor in their lives. The bells in my head were going off like it was recess time!

As we start with the needs, both the coach and the client seek 3 common pillars to ensure Direct Communication. In CLARITY comes great TRUST and TALK that connects, builds and grows to a level and outcome that pivots the coaching journey. I sense that Direct Communication will be crucial to bounce those creative action planning, engaging conversations and empowering thoughts with the client. A coach that has established all the basics so far, will be able to use Direct Communication to shift paradigms, remove negativity, challenge status quos and question reframing purposes to elevate the potential of the coachee. This can only be done when there is trust, clear outcomes / goals, absence of judgement and openness for feedback.

Unknowingly, I was starting to listen more about peoples challenges with food. Though the conversations always starts with “I can’t give up my daily nasi lemak” or “I must have my 4pm tea with biscuits and pastries” or even “I have no time for lunch”, other points start to surface. Time management issues, stress, personal time, work-related, self-care needs, social needs, hormonal imbalances, and many more reasons of poor eating habits and nutrition. Once I was able to understand their main challenges with food, establish the reasons that they truly wanted to manage their weight, reframing their relationship with food became a natural process for them.

To understand the science behind Direct Communication, the NLP Communication Model is a good option to decipher the elements of communication. How each of us decipher and interpret an external stimulus or event, is influenced by our 5 senses, which processes information based on how we are conditioned / tuned. We are conditioned by life-long filters, that distorts, deletes, and generalizes information that we receive. These filters are based on values, beliefs, decisions, and memories. All these form our unique metaprograms, our internal representations that makes us do what we do.

Hence, what started as an ice-cream treat by a parent, for acing that piano recital, is distorted as a reward for every success, as a showcase of love, validation. This becomes a metaprogram, anchoring on the memory, leveraging as a belief. As an adult, as extrinsic motivation and rewards may not be as immediate as an ice-cream, the good work, or success is self-rewarded with available food. Worst of all, the constant barrage of food photography on social media, reviews and availability magnifies the need to feel successful through food. Anytime we feel we have done great work, or believe that we need to be rewarded, we rush out for that decadent indulgence. By understanding this, I am able to question those who use food as a reward, to challenge them to shift their focus of rewards, and find other healthier options as a reward. Change your conditioning, change your habits, change your health.

In summary, Direct Communication is about noticing the minor nuances that lies within the client, being courageous to utilize the trust that has been formed to call out their drama, navigating the response based on needs, and taking the risk to reframe the perspectives of the client for his/her maximum potential.

After all, that’s what catalyst coaches do, when nobody else would.

Published by Shereen Kaur

Coach, Consultant, Wellness Advocate, Artist, Mom

One thought on “Direct Communication

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