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Do nothing – it works!

November 10, 2009
Hardware's protege Technique, artist Jimmy Pal...
Image via Wikipedia

It happened once again last night. A coaching conversation was going nowhere.

Coaches are not magicians. They work in tandem with their coachees, in order to help make a difference. Sometimes, you come across a situation, where the coachee is just stuck. And so are you.

Not an easy situation, and not a palatable one either. Most of us like to be able to help, to make a difference. It is frustrating when we are unable to. We want to see progress. When given a problem, we all want to find our way out of it with a solution.

But sometimes, there isn’t an immediate way out that’s visible. In life in general, and as a coach.

No matter what I tried last night, whether it was asking perspective widening questions, or in challenging a belief or context, nothing seemed to work with my coachee.

The Protégé Nerd
Image by dullhunk via Flickr

So we decided to do something else, for the first time in the coaching assignment. We decided to do nothing.

It happens. And when it does, it is important for coach and coachee to realize that we are at an impasse, and the best option at such times, is to postpone, is to take a break.

So we decided mutually to “sleep on it”.

Sleep on it is a powerful coaching intervention. It calls for a pause between the coach and the coachee. It puts the issue on the hold – in the conscious domain – the sub-conscious continues to work.

Sleep on it also ensures that you back away from the emotional seething or dullness of the moment. The break helps calm down or re-energize.

Sleeping with the Past album cover
Image via Wikipedia

So my suggestion…sometimes, as a coach, or a parent, or a manager…do nothing. Take a break. Sleep on it.

I was not surprised, when the next evening she called me to share that she had “got it”.

More often than not, the new day will bring new thoughts and breakthroughs. Try it.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. December 14, 2009 3:51 am

    I like this because often the “let’s sleep on it” guidance is offered by the coachee who may often be the first to recognise that they need the “time out” to come to terms with the current challenge, to reflect on the causes, the challenges and the possible routes to improvement.

    Sharing a personal observation, the only time I would say “let’s sleep on it” is INappropriate is those rare occasions when my wife and I disagree about something – our golden rule then is never to go to bed not talking to each other!



  2. November 10, 2009 11:34 pm

    ‘Sleep on it’ works!

    Personal experience – when I cant crack a problem or issue, I put it aside and fix a time the following day when I revisit it. The sub-conscious, as you suggest, keeps churning away in the meantime. The following day, more often than not, the issue is resolved pretty quickly and quite clearly.

    Nice post.

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      November 11, 2009 1:32 pm

      Thanks for sharing a personal example…I do this all the time, and it always works. Even in negotiation situations. More often than not, the other party comes around!

  3. Monisha Advani permalink
    November 10, 2009 10:46 pm

    Looks like “Sleeping Beauty” has inspired you…. 🙂

    • gurprrietsiingh permalink*
      November 11, 2009 1:31 pm

      Your words carry weight! 😉

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