Recently, I stumbled upon a Laurel and Hardy YouTube clip called ‘Stan Laurel infectious laughing!’ Like Oliver Hardy, I very soon found myself chortling along. Afterwards, I was aware of a lightening of my mood and a more positive approach to the next set of tasks on my job list.
The adage ‘laughter is the best medicine’ is well known and like most people, I am aware of the beneficial mood lightening and even euphoric effects of a good belly laugh, but I investigated further. A quick search revealed that some of the claimed physical benefits of laughter include: boosting immunity, lowering stress hormones, decreasing pain, relaxing muscles and a preventative for heart disease.
However, my attention was drawn to the mental health and social benefits of laughter, which include: adding joy and zest to life, easing anxiety and tension, relieving stress, increased resilience, strengthening relationships, enhancing teamwork, defusing conflict and promoting group bonding. I am struck by how these benefits of laughter align with some of the desired outcomes in coaching conversations. This observation is nothing new to the coaching community, and expert laughter coaches do exist, but I shall be considering how to incorporate laughter, as appropriate, into my existing coaching approaches.
I hope you find the clip gives you a lift, as it did me.
“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice (she was so much surprised, that for the moment she quite forgot how to speak good English).”
― Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass
My experience has shown that for the client and coach, a deep mutual curiosity about the client’s situation can lead to profound insights and greater clarity of thought. It is from this conviction that I have developed a coaching approach, which places shared curiosity at the centre of the discourse.
Rather than making goals the objective of the coaching, by making a comprehensive exploration of the client’s situation with curiosity at its centre, solutions and actions begin to surface. This approach was prompted by what I perceived to be a need for a coaching model that is not goal-orientated. In many professional environments, coaching is often perceived to be part of performance management as a means for addressing ‘issues’ or specific professional goals. I know that some potential clients view coaching with suspicion as it is perceived to be just another element of performance management. Whilst I do also provide coaching with professional goals in mind, my aim with this approach is to help clients to explore their situation without the burden of having to progress towards achieving a professional goal. Another aspect of this method is to allow space for quiet thinking to allow the client and coach the opportunity to reflect upon what has been discussed. The client might like to quietly consider a list of questions I can provide, with a view to sharing their thinking later, or reflect on their own agenda for a few minutes. As a coach, I find this allows me the opportunity to allow my thinking to catch up with the discourse and provides the space to think analytically about the client’s situation and the next steps in the coaching conversation.
A visual representation of my approach: