How do you spend your travel time? For Jim Wiginton, Broad Insights CEO and coach extraordinaire, traveling is a time for reflection. On a recent trip, we talked him into sharing important advice.
#1 Coaching LessonA lot of people ask me “What is the number one take away that you have had from your coaching sessions?” I often tell them this: people are very uncomfortable talking to people; they are much more comfortable talking about people. It is amazing to me how frequently people will refuse to have an uncomfortable conversation. When we have those tough conversations, things are always better. We often assume that if we don’t talk about things, the problems will go away. While that is certainly well-meaning, it does not work.
Don’t Learn the Hard WayI learned this the hard way. When I was about 30 years old, I was working at a Fortune 100 company in France. I remember one time going home in tears because an experienced and respected coworker did not like several of the initiatives I had brought to the organization. As a result, I avoided him. It didn’t take long for me to realize that by avoiding him I was allowing things to fester and get worse between us. That really hit home to me and I started to realize that I needed to have those tough conversations with people. When we avoid talking about problems, we end up holding in our feelings. People say things, they do things, we are irritated, and we don’t want to bring it up. But then one day we have finally had enough and we blow up. It is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. When this happens, then we have become the problem. By holding in our feelings and avoiding the tough conversations, we end up causing a worse problem than we would have had by approaching the individual early on.
The Stunning ResultsI remember one of the first times I clearly saw the results of talking to people instead of about them. I was in a meeting and there were some people who were clearly gossiping about me and I was made aware of that. I went to that person later on, not in the heat of the moment, closed the door, and I just told him, “I must owe you an apology. Something I have done is really irritating to you and I want to apologize to you and see if we can get this right.” And the result was that he ended up apologizing and our relationship improved. This issue of talking about other people rather than to people tears organizations and relationships apart. If we can come to the point where we approach people directly with issues, we will see real progress in our personal and business relationships.
–Jim Wiginton is the founder and managing partner of Broad Insights, an international business coaching firm based in Greenville, South Carolina. Jim possesses a wealth of business expertise, much of it gained as an executive for Michelin North America, Plastic Omnium, and Alfmeier Corporation. He has more than 5,000 hours of coaching experience, and a Doctorate of Business Administration from Paris School of Business.