Tag Archives: Boyatzis

Coaching with Compassion vs. Coaching for Compliance

Week 5 talks about coaching with compassion (CWC) in contrast to coaching for compliance. In coaching for compassion, we move a person into Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) by initiating dialogues about hope, compassion, mindfulness, or even playfulness. On the other hand, coaching for compliance is consciously or unconsciously leading someone over to Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA) and this occurs when we tell someone what to do, how to do things, and how to feel. In short, coaching for compliance begins with the assumption that something is not right and therefore is in need of “fixing”. While the underlying intention is good, by asserting our view of how someone should act or how he or she should be pushes them towards NEA. And as soon as they go into the NEA mode, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is triggered and they become defensive and begin to shut down cognitively, perceptually and emotionally.

Interestingly enough, movement from PEA to NEA and vice-versa has been visually captured through fMRI scans. Dr. Boyatzis presented examples of how coaching with compassion (CWC) is key to leadership development and in creating resonant relationships. He described recent fMRI studies on coaching to the Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) versus the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA). For example, patients who experienced shared Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) with their physicians showed increased treatment adherence for Type II Diabetics. In family businesses, a shared vision is also seen as key to predicting long term success and the same is true for IT managers and professionals where arousal of PEA (shared vision and positive mood) predicts effectiveness. It is also interesting to note that, fMRI studies show spending even just 30 minutes in a conversation about the PEA (i.e. talking about one’s vision or dream), activates regions of the brain associated with the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS), which promotes renewal and relaxation.

In small manageable amount, stress is beneficial to us because it can help us overcome daily challenges by giving us little boosts of energy and memory; it keeps us motivated and helps us accomplish tasks; physiologically, it can help protect our bodies from infection, and it is critical in arousing the fight-or-flight response necessary for survival. While we need a healthy dose of stress, modern life has afforded us more way more stress than necessary and we find ourselves overwhelmed which leads us to experiencing cognitive, emotional, perceptual and even physical impairment. The key then is for us to balance PEA and NEA in order to “survive and thrive”.

After learning the difference between coaching with compassion and coaching for compliance, I am struck at how much of the skills in CWC are transferrable in our daily lives, like a conversation to motivate someone to learn and change, or to get someone to do something or to influence another person’s thinking or action. In parenting for example, I tend to focus on the problem (i.e. Who made a mess? Why are all these books on the floor?) and less on the process (i.e. Where you playing with the toy house, cars, stuffed animals all the same time? Are you imagining that this is your castle?). Perhaps this is a ripe area where I can tap on the wisdom of CWC and motivate my kids towards PEA and then to a positive desirable behavior (i.e. cleaning up their toys). In coaching relationships, I could see CWC being used as a way to encourage reflection of how they envision their future career, rather than getting seeped into long discussions about one’s discontent and unhappiness in their jobs and trying to problem solve. I think the shift from the need to step in and resolve things to focusing on the process and the person is an important cognitive and emotional exercise particularly when our default seems to be “the fixer”.


Key People Who Inspire You

Thank you to our brothers and sisters worldwide for reaching out and helping us in times of great need. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

Thank you to our brothers and sisters worldwide for reaching out and helping us in times of great need. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

Writing this week’s blog has been more emotional than before. Having witnessed the effects of the super typhoon Haiyan on my native land, the Philippines, brought forth so much emotions- sadness and empathy for the survivors, grief for parents carrying their lifeless child as they walk across debris, anger for the politicking that is going on instead of focusing on relief efforts, but mostly deeply inspired by the millions of unknown brothers and sisters worldwide who came together to help assist the Filipinos in this time of great need and challenge.

When I think about this week’s module of key people who inspire me, I think of people like the heroes I’ve mentioned earlier. Each individual put in their time, resources and energy into rebuilding our nation. In their own big and small ways, they inspired me to be a better person and I experienced what Dr. Boyatzis called renewal. For me, it is a feeling of intense emotional rejuvenation. I think in our stress-laden lives, we need moments of renewal to remind us to be mindful and thankful of what we have, renewal to allow our hearts to let go of past hurts and pains, renewal to remind ourselves that we are resilient and renewal to have the power to rebuild and forge ahead stronger than ever.

How about you? Who are the key people in your lives who have inspired you? What have they done for you and what lessons did they leave you? Either it is a word of encouragement, an unexpected helping hand, a pat on the back, a shoulder to lean on, a kind nonjudgmental ear, that person/s has given us a vision of what we want to be in the future. How powerful is that! Talk about transformational learning, borrowing Jack Mezirow’s term. Or Complexity Theory according to Boyatzis, and this occurs when a person’s thoughts, actions and behaviors change in a sustainable nonlinear way. This change is incremental- some days we change a bit, some days we don’t change at all and some days we revert back to our old ways. But Boyatzis in his research contended that there are five patterns present when people sustainably change. The first step is called the ideal self, and this is a self-reflective discovery, a glimmer of our desired self, of who we want and envision ourselves to be. The second step is the real self, where we obtain feedback from others about how we show up and we consciously compare that data with our ideal self, something like a personal balance sheet. The third step is exploring a learning agenda by committing to some personal changes or maintenance of positive actions, thoughts and behaviors. Note that this is not a performance improvement plan, but more like a mental action check list. Now that we have this mental list, the fourth step is to actually practice, experiment and see how these changes are received and perceived by people around us. Finally, through a consistent stream of reflection and change, we begin to establish trusting and resonant relationships.

As I look at the photos and videos of towns in the central part of the Philippines  reduced to rubble caused by the super typhoon, the rising death toll each day, the tears streaming down the survivors faces, I feel immense grief and feelings of helplessness but at the same time, I am deeply hopeful and inspired by the spirit and will of the survivors to rise above this tragedy and the generous individuals and organizations who donated money and gave up their holiday parties so money can go toward the relief fund; selfless volunteers who sent and packaged hundreds and thousands of relief goods everyday, and kind souls who organized hot meals, temporary tents and transportation for the displaced victims. This week alone, I feel humanity come alive more so than ever. Seeing my fellowmen suffer so much desolation, I have witnessed how the world came together to reach out and pull our country out of this time of desperate need. My cup overflows. I am deeply grateful and thankful and inspired. Thank you to the people who helped the Philippines and who inspired me in your own ways to change the world, one nation, one person at a time.

Renewal as an Antidote to Chronic Stress

Week 2’s module on Renewal As an Antidote to Chronic Stress was a timely topic as I dove through a rough week of deadlines, presentations, chores and other family responsibilities. Indeed, emotions- both positive and negative are contagious. The saying happy wife, happy life perhaps is a good metaphor for the term emotion contagion. A happy wife spreads her energy and fills the home with much love, warmth and laughter. In the same vein, an emotionally positive individual creates a good vibe in the workplace. On the contrary, negative emotions spread like wildfire and can be passed on unconsciously. Perhaps it was a simple comment (i.e. ‘whatever’) or a brush of disregard (i.e. eye rolling) which led to the other person feeling unheard, disrespected, or undervalued. Being mindful therefore is key in order for us to be attuned to our emotions and reflect on how we impact others.

Emotional contagion does not only exhibit itself externally (e.g. behavior manifestations like laughing out loud or screaming at the top of your lungs) but neurologically as well. Mild or acute stress can activate the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS). It’s scary to imagine that at the wake of stress, our body’s physiological reaction results in increased blood pressure, shallowed and uneven breathing, diminished functioning of our immune system as well as impairment in our cognition and perception. On the contrary, renewal is activated by the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). Activation of the PNS results in our body neurologically rebuilding itself, strengthening of our immune system, and mentally being open to new experiences, learning and change.

How then do we engage in renewal experiences? Dr. Boyatzis suggested four ways in order to create and further enhance resonant relationships.

1. Practicing mindfulness either through meditation, yoga, tai chi, prayer and consistent physical exercise

2. Showing compassion by engaging in a healthy relationship, taking care of pets, volunteering and helping those in need

3. Emphasis on being hopeful by thinking and dialoguing with others about our personal or shared dreams, visions and purpose

4. Engaging in playfulness through laughter and doing things that bring about happy emotions

I would love to hear your thoughts on emotional contagion. What recent experience triggered extreme anger and annoyance in you? How did you react to this emotion? What is the result of your reaction to these extremely negative emotions? What about experiences of renewal? What have you done or tried that creates an opportunity for your to detox and de-stress and feel renewed, reenergized and refreshed?