One of the skills a coach uses is called ‘holding up a mirror.’
Mirroring is when a coach reflects back to a client the behaviour or situation that they are seeing/hearing from the client. Often it involves distilling a somewhat lengthy story recounted by the client down to 2-3 succinct sentences so the client hears the essence of the situation using many of their own words from someone else’s mouth. It can start with “So I hear you saying…..” and can end with “Is that what you’re saying?”
The purpose of holding up a mirror is for the client to see themselves more objectively.
I had occasion to do this twice this month with two separate clients, resulting in me pondering how often people worry about how others perceive them even risking harm to themselves.
One senior client has a boss who makes lots of inappropriate ‘jokes’ to her – privately and in front of others. She has been reluctant to say anything to him as she doesn’t want to be seen as difficult nor does she want to say anything to HR because she doesn’t want to cause an issue for the organization. These jokes are demeaning, demotivating and probably illegal and she doesn’t want to seem difficult (insert sarcasm font).
Another senior client is experiencing emotional stress having moved countries for her job and because of so much work and travel she’s having trouble integrating in the new country. When I suggested she contacted her company’s employee assistance program to access a counsellor about the stress and have it paid through that program she said no. No because she didn’t want to risk her organization finding out about the stress of the expatriation so she’s going to proceed privately – finding her own therapist in the new country and paying for it herself.
What might you be doing that limits or harms you for fear of what others might think?