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What would you say?

Momenteel ben ik bezig met het schrijven van een Engels boek over progressiegericht werken. De vraag wanneer er een boek in het Engels zou verschijnen kwam in de loop der jaren steeds weer op me af. Internationale Business Schools en trainers, managers, coaches en docenten in een Engelstalige omgeving die de progressiegerichte aanpak benutten in hun werk, gaven aan dat ze het prettig vonden als er Engelstalige boeken beschikbaar zouden zijn.

Het boek gaat in op de theorie van progressiegericht werken, progressiegerichte basisinterventies, progressiegericht coachen, progressiegericht leidinggeven, progressiegericht lesgeven en trainen en biedt een checklist met progressiegerichte interventies. Een klein stukje uit het boek in wording gaat zo:

Please meet Sally, Julia and Mark. Sally is a self-employed coach and she coaches managers and professionals who have work related issues. Julia is a manager in a rehabilitation centre and she is responsible for several Units, such as the Speech Therapy Unit. Mark is a teacher at a secondary school and he teaches English to teenagers. Even though Mark, Sally and Julia work in very different environments, they have one thing in common; they have lots of conversations with other people.

Sally talks with clients who turn to her for help. Julia talks with coordinators of the several Units she is responsible for and with patients, family members, other managers, her boss. Mark talks with students, parents and colleagues. Most days all three of them conduct crucial conversations in which important topics are discussed and addressed.

Sally, the coach, had an unpleasant experience last week. During a session with Jim, one of her clients, she began to develop a suspicion that he might have marital problems. It was not so much what he said, but she just sensed it. Jim had asked for her help in making a career decision. They had spoken five times and up till that point Jim hadn’t made a lot of progress. He was still doubtful; stay where he was or move on to something else. Sally felt he was being evasive and undecisive out of fear for the unknown. She decided to share her intuition with him and told him: ‘This is our fifth session together and you keep on repeating the same things to me. You tell me you don’t know whether to stay in your current job or move on to do something you find more interesting. You then leave our sessions with a clear idea about what you want to do, but the next time we talk nothing has happened and you’re back at square one. I am going to share my intuition with you, if that’s ok. I feel that you are being evasive and undecisive because deep down you have a very low self-esteem and you’re afraid to make a choice because you might not succeed. My intuition also tells me there is something not quite right between you and your wife, so I wonder if there is something wrong in your relationship? ‘Jim had smiled politely but had clearly closed down. He cut their session short, indicating he needed some time to think. He said he didn’t know if he’d be coming back but would let her know.

Suppose you were Sally. What would you have said to Jim?

Julia really struggles with the Speech Therapy team. The coordinator of the team and the individual team members often come to her with their work issues and complain about each other to her. They constantly tell her their workload is too much and they ask for more time and more staff when they know there just isn’t any budget left. Julia had a team meeting which went badly. The coordinator of the team, Gillian, had yet again asked Julia for a bigger budget and the team members complained they didn’t feel heard by Julia. Julia had told them that they had to treat two new patients as well as the patients that were already scheduled in and that complaining about it wouldn’t change the fact that these patients needed their help! She had continued by saying: ‘It’s been four years now of continuous complaints about the work pressure and you constantly ask for more money, more staff, more means and more time to do the work. I am fed up with it! Please just grow up and get on with your work, instead of putting all your efforts in telling me I don’t hear you and making complaints about your colleagues behind their backs!’ There was dead silence after this angry outburst and the team had left the room after the meeting with tears in their eyes. Julia knew she had some damage repair to do and she went home feeling emotionally drained.

Imagine you had been Julia. What would you have said in this meeting?

The other day, Mark, the teacher, had a bad experience with a few of his thirteen-year-old pupils. He had just closed the class room door and had started to give the kids their test results back, when four boys entered. They were late and not for the first time. Mark said: ‘Oi, go to the school office to get a late slip, all four of you!’ The four boys protested and started to explain why they were late, but Mark didn’t want to have any of it and didn’t listen. He repeated, a little louder this time: ‘I am not interested in your reason for being late, I want you to leave the class room and ask for a late slip. Now, off you go!’ The boys left the class room angrily and it took them a full ten minutes to return with their late slips. This time, a member of staff was accompanying the boys He said: ‘I just thought I’d come with these lads. Someone accidently locked these boys up in a room during lunch time, so they really couldn’t get out and that’s why they were late’. Chris, one of the four boys, said loudly: ‘Yes, so that’s why we were late, and you didn’t want to listen to us! It’s not fair!’ Mark got very annoyed by the tone in Chris’s voice. He said, sounding very tough: ’It’s not about the reason why you were late, it’s about the way you talked back when I said you had to ask for a late slip! You don’t talk to me that way, do you understand me!’ The staff colleague quickly left, whilst Chris said: ‘What do you mean, keep calm please!’ That was it. Mark looked Chris straight in the eyes and ordered: ‘That’s enough, Chris! Go to the Heads’ office right now!’ Chris left the room, banging the door behind him. The other three boys sat down and half an hour after the lesson had started, they could finally join in. Chris missed out on the entire lesson and the tension between Mark and Chris had only worsened.

Imagine yourself in Mark’s position. What would you have said? How would you have handled the situation?

 

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