In my notes from our last meeting, I had jotted down a few words: updated resume, client presentation and proposal, coworkers. These were all areas that *Mallory referenced or eluded to through her sessions that I felt could hold some vital insight for her. As we sat down together for a pre-planned extended session to catch up after the holidays, we went through each of these areas in depth.
As Mallory sipped her latte, she confessed, “The holidays were good. I’m just tired. I see twenty-eighteen as a year full of change and new opportunities, so that’s a good thing. At the same time, though, those thoughts also make me even more tired,” she sighed with a slight smile.
“Positive thoughts can be tiring, too,” I affirmed. “That’s not a bad thing. It’s important not to overwhelm yourself.” I pulled out the Clear Thinking Method Basic Book. “The key is to remember,” I said as I flipped open to a checklist of characteristics and quoted, “‘When I have access to my whole, balanced self I can be,’” and I paused. “What characteristic on this list would best represent your goal at this point?”
As she scanned the list, her brow furrowed and then her eyes lit up. “’Sense of well being/sense of strength’!” It obviously struck a chord as she continued with excitement. “That! That is what I want more than anything!” and held up her latte mug in a fashion that invited me to clink my cup to hers in a celebratory “Cheers!”
“That’s great, Mallory! I’d like to jump in on my notes, if you feel like you are ready to move ahead?” I asked. But before even finishing my sentence, Mallory was smiling and nodding, so I continued. “Excellent! Okay, now thinking back to the times when your boss has you second-guessing your professional instinct, intuition and experience. You had talked of your longevity at your job and the experience you have accumulated both prior your current position and since. That is your resume you are referring to in your thoughts. Most are familiar with the time, energy and recollection that is required when one updates a resume. Each task and responsibility are thoughtfully recreated in a few synoptic bullet points,” and I pulled out a template resume of an Account Manager I printed online. “Updating a resume can be so much more than simply preparing for a new employer. Of course, it can serve as a compass to see if a career could use a strategic redirection, but that redirection can represent a mindful reset in a current job. It can also remind and bolster a person’s confidence in seeing proof-positive all they are capable of and have accomplished.”
Mallory sat for a moment in thoughtful reflection and nodded slightly in agreement. “It’s funny you should bring this up. Christmas Eve I started a rough draft of a new resume. I was thinking maybe I needed to freshen up the look of my original resume. Good grief, I think it was the same format I used straight out of high school,” she laughed. “At first, I felt like I was a kid again, not knowing what to add or take away. It’s been so long since I even looked at my resume. As I did, though, I realized, there were huge areas of growth. I mean, how funny that my first job was still listed, and I actually included ‘answering phones’ as one of my bullet points! I’m thirty-four! I think my bullet points need to have a little more substance for all the work I have put in to further my career.”
“See! That’s great! That is exactly what I was hoping for and not only did you sense it before we even discussed it, you implemented it. You should finish it up. Not to necessarily move on from your current job, but what a benefit it would be to see the final product of how far you have come.”
“Yes. I couldn’t agree with you more,” she said as she quickly added notes of her own.
“Do you want to move on, then?” I asked, hoping I was reading her reactions correctly.
“Absolutely,” she affirmed.
“Okay, next topic. As an Account Manager, much of your responsibilities focus on providing clients a new, improved or fresh perspective on how their company and duties can be enhanced by your company’s resources and services. *Teri seems to be under the impression that your presentation and proposal skills are somehow lacking. The negativity in how this information was presented to you is off-putting, but the topic could serve to benefit you in the long run. Do you have a favorite presentation? Or one that you felt was as close to perfect as you could get?” I asked.
“Hmm,” she said, as her eyes narrowed. “I think I know where you are going with this and I think I might be freaked out by it.”
“Oh, you know that if there is anything in what we discuss that poses as distressing to you, it is off the table. That’s not constructive,”
“Okay, maybe ‘freaked out’ is a little strong. I won’t shut a door. That is counterproductive to why you and I are talking in the first place,” she stopped and took a slow, deep breath and continued. “I’m guessing you want me to pitch my favorite proposal again. Only to Teri. Am I right?”
“I feel like revisiting a successful proposal could be a great confidence booster, but I hadn’t actually thought through pitching it to someone, or to who. How does that make you feel right now?”
“Realistically, it makes perfect sense. I need to be able to take constructive criticism from anyone in my field. Being challenged only makes my game stronger,” she confidently stated as her back straightened in her chair.
“That’s a positive approach. You began with ‘realistically’. What other perspectives are you considering?” I asked in hopes of inviting her to address the struggle she eluded to in previous sessions.
“I don’t feel Teri is capable of constructive criticism. I don’t know how to address what I’m receiving. I can certainly prepare for a critique. I am not prepared for an attack. So, I suppose I need to prepare for an attack?” she asked, no longer holding her confident body language.
“It’s clear an attack is what you are expecting. Rightfully so, based on your experiences with Teri that have rewired you to anticipate negativity. However, being on the defensive puts you in a Limbic System response, handicapping your ability to be fully present. Let’s look at how you might advise one of your coworkers in a similar scenario at your company. What would you suggest they consider while interacting with a particularly difficult supervisor?”
Mallory’s body language changed once again, back to the straightened shoulders and receptive posture. “First, I can see the value in your suggestion to invite their boss to a mock presentation. I’m not entirely confident it would serve as a constructive tool in conflict resolution in a company such as ours. What I do see as a potential solution is to call a meeting over the basic presentation model that our company outlines in our job descriptions, pair it with the employee’s client roster and historical data on new, existing, inherited and lost clients for that particular employee. Which, I do see is, me.”
“Mallory, that is fantastic. How do you feel about this outcome?” I encouraged.
As she maintained her natural reaction, her body language remained confident as she reflected, “I feel like it is time to do something about this.”
I have shared this story as a glimpse of a coaching relationship. This story is based on multiple clients’ personal stories. *Names and details have been changed for privacy.