Claire Bradshaw of Claire Bradshaw Associates, Executive Coach, Development Consultant and NLP Master Practitioner
I have a confession to make. I’m a self-employed coach and trainer. And I have trouble talking about money. Which is a bit of a problem, because each time I undertake a piece of work, it is absolutely necessary to do so – isn’t it?
The issue is deep. It comes from a career spent in public service, where pay is on a scale (no performance related conversations about salaries) and where procurement is dealt with by other people or, indeed, a whole department. I discovered, through some NLP exploration (thank you, Florence), that I hold a limiting belief that money is a corruptive force that, if discussed openly, will tear at my values and ultimately bring me crashing down. Oh yes, and I’m not good at talking about money because actually, I’m just not worth it….
So you see, I needed some help to overcome my limiting beliefs. For even though I have many excellent friends who are far wealthier than me – good, trustworthy, ethical people – I didn’t quite trust myself to stay clean and true.
A modelling project, then….. Perfect !
I identified three people who I know to be ‘good’ and who seem to operate according to a similar set of values to my own (do no harm, be kind, help others etc.) Crucially, these three people have no such hang-ups about money.
I interviewed all three, asking them about their experiences of financial conversations with clients, about how they felt going into and coming out of meetings, about how they conducted themselves during the conversation and how they followed things up. What I discovered is this.
At no point in the conversation about money did anyone talk about money. Interesting. There was commonality across all three exemplars which I’ve detailed below.
- Preparation: all exemplars prepared for the client meeting (to discuss a potential piece of work). They knew about their client, were able to metaphorically ‘stand in their shoes’ and they found their own way to adopt the ‘right’ frame of mind beforehand. This frame of mind or ‘state’ aligns very much with Dilt’s COACH state – connected, open, alert. No prior solutions. No hard sell. ‘Just be me’, one exemplar stated.
- Self: Each exemplar had a view of themselves as a service provider who could solve a problem for the client. They were not highwaymen; their values were about helping and caring. They also had a sense of their own value and the value the market placed on their services.
- Comfort: this was stated by each exemplar as a key factor in the process. Comfort with themselves, from the clothes they wore to the rates they charged. The conversation with the client was in rapport and like an intimate chat. Not a hard fought sales negotiation then?
- Listening: everyone I spoke to explained to me that the meeting was about listening to the client’s needs deeply and actively and making notes which would form the basis of a written proposal later. Listening? I can do that…
- Questioning: ‘What do you want to be different?’ ‘What do you want people to do more of?’ ‘How have you addressed this issue so far?’ Curiosity not telling.
- Reflecting back: ‘Checking and demonstrating understanding inspires confidence’, explained the exemplars. ‘They know you are creating something specific for them rather than just giving them something you’ve done already’. ‘They know you care’.
- Endings: ‘And at the end, you say you’ll get back to them with a no-obligation, fully costed proposal which can be further refined’. My exemplars did this and shared that this provided much relief for the client, who equally did not relish a conversation about money. Everyone got to be considered and adult.
So my learning from the modelling project has transformed the way I do business. You may have noticed, as I did once I’d begun to observe the patterns of the research, that what takes place in a client meeting has strong parallels with what happens in a coaching relationship. And those things… the rapport, the listening, the questioning… I know I can do those well and that they align with my values. I am learning to trust myself to be more of me. Because, indeed, I am enough.
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