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Blind Spot

I remember preparing for client coaching session – kind of dreading it – as I’d been told by management that the client was entrenched in negativity was always oppositional. I thought to myself where is this going to go? I’d even suggested that maybe coaching was not the path to improved productivity for this staffer. Yet management were so sold on this individual’s core competency that they wanted to pursue any and all possibilities and were sure performance coaching was the way to go.

So I met with Chris and sure enough it was a bit of a game of ping pong to start, a lot of deflecting questions and my input. Remembering the Johari Window concept* that we present in our Coaching for Performance workshop, I began to ask probing questions around their assessment of ‘negative’ and ‘oppositional’ people in the workplace. Their response was somewhat surprising. In all honesty they stated “one of the things that bugs me most about working for this organization is people who won’t cooperate and always complain”. They had no idea that they were describing themselves. After some probing, they admitted that they had ‘high standards’ and felt that the organization would be wise to hold everyone to what they perceived to be industry standards.

Over time, with reflective listening and trust building I was able to get to the point that ‘sometimes’ others saw some of negativity and argumentativeness in them, which for Chris was a complete surprise. Armed with some specific examples, Chris came to understand how ‘perhaps’ others might view some actions and words in this way. This was the beginning of a shift – not a dramatic change – a shift. From this, there was greater awareness, improving work relationships and perhaps now a new career path. This story reminds me that when coaching staff or clients, we need to remember to be on the lookout for blind spots as we are never fully aware of how we come across to the ‘other’ and sometimes our perceptions are off.


Known to self and to others


Not known to self but known to others


Known to self but not known to others


Not known to self or others