Going deep - how to work with the innate fears that drive avoidance behaviours
SW Coaching and Mentoring Pool: Master Classes Day
14 November 2018, Holiday Inn, Taunton
I ran a masterclass session on the subject of identifying and dealing with a client's avoidance behaviours.
Here's the video of the full 90 minute workshop: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=alGFAbDal_E&t=1857s
And here's the chapter from my book Coaching Excellence on the subject of dealing with fear.
The bottom line is this: Fear driven by our social nature is so powerful that it gently nudges us away from risky choices long before we are ever aware of it. This is not 'negative psychology' - that's where we see a person as deficient and in need of remedy. This is actually based on the positive concept that a person has an innate drive towards behaviours which increase their survival chances through social cohesion. Unfortunately, those behaviours can become counter-productive, particularly where the individual has their own plans, separate to those of a social group. In the case of the demonstration, to belong to one groups means to not belong to another, and swapping groups carries an inherent risk. Of course, this is an issue of perception not objective reality, because there is no need to give anything up in order to increase one's social network or change role. Fear of judgement from other people is another form of fear of rejection, because the operating rule is, 'if other people judge me and don't accept me then I am rejected' and we are hard wired to avoid rejection.
From a coaching perspective, the client's fear will have you running round in circles, and will make their behaviour seem random and unpredictable. In fact, their actions are highly predictable when you realise that there is a force attracting them back to their comfort zone. When you help them to identify and acknowledge that force, it can no longer have power over them, they can now control it as a new source of energy, and we saw this in the sense of excitement at the end of the demonstration.