Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Defensiveness - issues in coaching

Understanding defensiveness is stock in trade for any coach who is worth their salt - being able spot  how the client can deny/ rationalise/ justify/ minimise their behaviour and impact is essential. Defensiveness keeps the conversation closed and limits the possibilities that can be discussed or discovered. It would not therefore  be unreasonable to see the defensive client as a problem... a bit of an issue.

However a more compassionate view is that the client is always doing the best they can, given the context, resources and knowledge they have. Defensiveness is therefore potentially a legitimate response given their circumstances.

This was borne when I was recently introduced to a new client. They had been told to come for coaching because they needed to fix some stuff. Not too surprisingly they entered the room bristling with indignation and highly suspicious of me and this coaching malarkey. It has taken several session to build up trust and for him to lower the barricades enough to talk about a change agenda that he is willing to buy into. The work continues...

"Defensiveness is usually someone silently screaming that they need you to value and respect them in disguise."

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