In my most recent “Coaching with the Enneagram” certificate program, one of the most coaching-savvy participants – an excellent coach and an exemplary coachee – asked me what I thought were the most essential ingredients in an excellent coach, and I responded with this: Presence, Patience and Practice.
Everyone in the program understood those three simple words, and I thought it might be useful to put these in three blogs, one on each “P.” This 2nd blog is on Patience.
Patience is related to presence as a coach. A fully present coach is also in pure patience, not waiting until something occurs, not driving toward a particular goal or outcome, and not experiencing anything boring or not moving.
People of almost every Enneagram type will say they are not patient or have to work on being more patient, and this is also true when they coach. Some types will say they are patient when they coach, but then they report trying to think about what they will say to the client next while the client is talking or feeling like the client is not moving fast enough or moving along the path the coach might want. Or they may think they are being patient when they are in fact being lulled into transactional coaching – lateral coaching rather than vertical or deep coaching. Below are some examples of not-being patient by enneatype. For how to develop patience by type, please refer to the first blog on Presence. A present coach is, by definition, a patient one!
One coaches like concreteness in methodology and coaching plans so that when they first reach a coaching agreement with a client, their gut tells them there is a right way to do the coaching, achieve the plan and then their head figures out what this is. Then, One coaches become impatient when the client is not following the plan, balks at the methodology, or wants to go in a different direction in terms of the coaching process. One coaches also become impatient when the client doesn’t seem to really want to improve very much; self-improvement, in the mind of the One coach, should always be the goal.
Two coaches may appear quite patient, but they become less so if the client “doesn’t seem to ‘get it’” or doesn’t appear willing to do the inner and outer work needed to achieve their goals. Even worse is a client who seems stuck in their issues and says they want to change something, but appears either unable or, even worse, unwilling to do so. “Why am I wasting my time on you?” is what the Two coach may be feeling, even if they aren’t fully aware of this.
Three coaches almost always revert to goal and plan. That’s how they work. The fastest way to the goal that gets the job done is what they think will make their client more effective. They may not realize it, but Three coaches usually want to get right to the plan and result with the client, often skipping over all the data, knowledge and insight they and the client need way before a full plan with action can and should be established. Thus, they become impatient with the full discover and awareness needed.
Four coaches become highly impatient when the client doesn’t get to the deepest issues involved in coaching. They want as close to 100% of the coaching to be real, deep, and authentic. But some clients need more time, are more private and less emotional, and need to develop trust with their coach.
Five coaches get impatient when their clients explore feelings that seem, to the Five, highly charged. Really, it is a combination of feeling anxious about how to be and how to work with this, combined with a devaluing of the importance of emotions in solving issues or problems. This anxiety with and lack of valuing feelings as much as logic lead to impatience.
Six coaches get frustrated when they don’t understand what is happening or know what to do, and this can lead to impatience or even irritation and anger with their clients. Six coaches will have many reasons to explain their impatience, but impatience it is!
Seven coaches like interesting stories, fast-paced conversations, and want to move to possibilities. When clients talk more slowly, engage in deeper self-reflection and are quiet – so it may appear to the Seven coach as if nothing is happening when, in fact, a lot may be occurring – Sevens get impatient. They fidget, change the topic of discussion, or even drift off to something more interesting in their minds.
Eight coaches get highly impatient when they think the client isn’t telling the truth, isn’t taking responsibility for his or her actions, and is taking too long to get to the point, when they don’t think anything important is happening in the coaching (even if it is, but the Eight coach doesn’t perceive it).
Nine coaches rarely appear impatient externally, but inside is another story. They become impatient when they don’t understand what the client is saying, when they perceive the coaching as losing its direction, when the client complains too much or too often, and more.