I have a life coaching client that has become a friend, something that I am most accustomed to because I look at every client as a friend anyway. But that is not to say that every client necessarily looks at me as a friend. Many clients are afraid to allow feelings of friendship because they are seem to be afraid that they cannot separate the “business,” from the “pleasure.”
I say to many of them, wouldn’t it be nice if our business could be pleasure, and vice versa? Of course, not all our pleasure has to relate to business, at least we don’t have to look at it that way, but it actually all relates, no question. So many of us have been taught that “business is business,” and we lead these artificially divided lives which require so much effort to keep divided. This division is actually at the root of so many of my clients’ problems for which they are looking at me for help. Only, they don’t understand the correlation.
One case in point happened this weekend, when I was spending some “friend” time, with a friend and a “client.” At one point, my “friend” said and did something that was not aligned with what, my “client,” had shared with me were his goals and objectives. I brought to his attention his line of thinking and asked him to consider if this was in his highest and best interest and/or, in the interest of his stated goals and objectives. My friend’s response to me was, “Why are you correcting me?”
I explained to him that he had come to me with certain concerns and certain objectives, as a client, and that I was merely pointing out to him other areas that might actually be the root of the answers for him. He did immediately see my reasoning and implied that we were “having fun,” and this was not “work time.”
I couldn’t have agreed with him more, that we were having fun and this did not have to be “work.” I did not readily share this thought with my friend but had to tactfully bring to his awareness what was at stake here. For me, what was at stake was loosing a friend and a client. But what was more important to me was my commitment to him in helping him with his problems and goals.
Have we not heard of psychologists coming to certain understandings of what is going on in the psyche of children by watching them “play?” The truth is that the “answers,” are found more in the more natural, subconscious, playful state, then they are in the conscious, “let’s get down to business” state. This has more than once made me come to the conclusion that if we had the right friends, we wouldn’t need therapists. Of course, the “right” friends would have to almost be therapists anyway, to be able to help us. But what I have meant by that is that our friends hear us speak in stream of consciousness, watch us play, are witness to our choices, possibly know our other friends, partners etc. They would be in the best position to council us, if they knew how to see the signs, know what they mean, and know how to bring them to our attention.
If you think about it, we are asking for quite a lot of our therapists and life coaches and mentors, when we visit them in an office or professional environment and show them one side of us and give them a one sided story, the one we are conscious of, and then ask them to “help” us figure it out.
Back to my friend/client, I explained to him that he had come to me with a “problem,” and had asked me to help him with it. I then see the root of the problem during “playtime,” and asked him if he was serious about the solving his problem. His answer was simply, “I get it, thank you.”
He pondered for a moment, and I waited patiently as a life coach and as a friend as he processed in the middle of our playing. When he had reached the point he felt he had processed enough, he bounced back into play mode and off we went to have more fun for several more hours.
Hmmm, come to think of it, this is what we see children doing all the time, in fact, this is something that we EXPECT children to be able to do. What parent doesn’t correct their child if they see the child not sharing? And what parent doesn’t take the child aside and have a talk with them about their behavior and if need be “punish” them, but then allow them, and expect them to “now run along and play and don’t forget what we talked about.”
Maybe that’s it, maybe from now on, every new client I take on, I ask them to take me out to “play,” at their “sandbox” of choice so I can “play” with them as we figure life out and have fun doing it. I just hope they don’t remember why they invited me out to “play,” and don’t ask me “Why are you correcting me?”
If so, the answer will be, “BECA– USE YOU WANT ME TOO!”