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It’s getting on my wick!

Next in the series of guest blogs on “Positive Practices in Coaching & Mentoring” is from Kev Wyke. Kev is a freelance Organisational Development Consultant, a relentlessly positive coach and an eternally optimistic facilitator who has yet to start his own blog but can be found lurking on twitter @kevwyke.

Once you’ve read his post below, drop by and give him a grin!

It’s getting on my wick!

Why do we love to moan so much? It’s getting on my wick!

Over the last billion years of working in and with teams it seems to have been one of the constants, we whinge to our colleagues, we grumble to our loved ones and we moan to our mates in the pub.

For (insert deity of choice)’s sake we even invite a moan as an opening to a conversation “what’s up” a how many times has a meeting started with “what could we improve” “let’s have a look at what went wrong” or some other euphemism for “let’s all have a good old moan about how crap it is here and spend the next hour wingeing about all the spilled milk that’s passed under the bridge ‘cos a good old moaning session is cathartic isn’t it.”

It may well be cathartic, who knows, what I do know is that it never feels productive to me. The problem I find with starting with the negatives (whether they be the moans from the past or the difficulties of the future) is that it seems to lock you in to a negative mindset. The focus is on the things that didn’t work, that we didn’t do or the stuff that we still need to overcome or will derail us and sometimes (ok quite often actually) that stops us from moving a single step further forward at all.

So my scientific research proves that we all love to moan and naturally fall in to this ‘mode’ if allowed, what can we do about it? Well here’s the thing, as a coach or facilitator we have a chance to help our charges change their focus and look at the world through a different lens. And this is where I love to be relentlessly positive, gushingly appreciative and wildly optimistic to help folk to see the world a different way.

This isn’t easy and can get you labeled as some half-wit who doesn’t understand the risks. But believe me it can help folk move forward and is so much more fun than being a grouch all day.

So when reviewing something I like to ask questions like “What went well?” “What are we proud of?” “What do we want to do more of?”.

When looking to the future I want to know “What do we want to be famous for?” “What would you like to achieve?” “When it’s brilliant in a few years time what’s it like?”.

When deciding on options “Which of these do you really love?” “Which one gives the best outcome?” “Which will work best for you?” “Which gives you most energy?”.

And when making plans “What actions will make this work?” “What is the best thing that you can do now?” “What will help you move towards your goal?”.

This relentless chirpiness takes a fair bit of energy and sometimes folk don’t like it, they want their opportunity to let off steam and share their woes. But remember our role as coach or facilitator is not to collude in some whinge-fest or to let folk fester in their rut, we’re there to help them move forward and leap further.

So I smile and ask them again “What went well? What are you really proud of? What do you want to be famous for?”.

(HT to appreciative inquiry for all it has done for me)


6 thoughts on “It’s getting on my wick!

  1. I"m sitting here thinking "Oh (insert deity of choice) Yes!" and mentally applauding  (to be fair, I'm alone in the office)I this this should be compulsory reading for all coaches, facilitators… and people. Made me smile just reading it.Thank you.


    Posted by Julie@fuchsiablue | July 25, 2012, 9:16 AM
  2. I was at a friends gig recently and in response to 'any requests' I shouted from the audience 'do you know any songs about killing yourself?' The guitarist replied, 'No Doug, that's your job'. Cue much laughter.Surely relentlessly positive is about as bonkers as relentlessly negative. I think relentlessly anything is unsustainable, I like a good moan, a really top quality one can put me in a remarkably good mood, how does that work then?I am an optimist, I am more positive than negative. Marcial Losada's research into powerful teams showed that one of three essential ingredients is positive over negative. As a minimum he found we need three times as many positive expressions as negative. If the mix goes above 11:1 then the team are in la la land, my words not his.I enjoyed reading this – thanks.Doug


    Posted by Doug Shaw | July 25, 2012, 4:21 PM
  3. Cheers for adding here Doug – glad you enjoyed the read.Kev may explain more about his thinking but I took the context to be within the 'coaching' relationship – to be honest it could be any interaction – rather than being relentlessly positive all the time.  Not a natural state as you say!Bringing in our negativity to a coaching relationship would probably only serve our own agenda and not the clients.  Interestingly though how I think most people would say that bringing our positivity serves the clients agenda and not out own.  Does it?  Something I need to noodle… thanks for that.


    Posted by davidgoddin | July 26, 2012, 7:43 PM
  4. Thanks for the great comments all, I think there was always going to be an interesting bit of irony in a blog on positivity being a moan about whinginess. And as for relentless positivity, I agree, hard to do authentically all day every day in your whole life (people would stare) but as a coach or facilitator I believe it is part of the role.


    Posted by @kevwyke | July 27, 2012, 7:26 AM
  5. Thanks for the great comments y'all, I think there was always going to be an interesting bit of irony in a blog about positivity being a moan about whinginess. And as for relentless positivity, I agree, hard to do authentically all day, every day in your whole life (people would stare) but as a coach or facilitator I believe it is part of the role


    Posted by Kev Wyke | July 27, 2012, 9:21 AM


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