Tag Archives: coaching

New look !

I recently discovered that my coaching website http://www.JudithSunleyCoaching.com was hacked, and so I have decided to close it down and concentrate on this blog.

I have been neglecting the blog as I made no blog posts during 2014. My excuse? Well we have moved to Spain and have been settling into our new life here. Joining clubs, becoming part of the fabric of the community, and well – coaching has taken a back burner.

But I have gathered the resolve to streamline and improve…. So my blog now has a new heading – Dr Judith Sunley – Life Coach, instead of “The Doctor’s Reflections”.

Most of the Summer 2014 was taken up with a visit to France to visit my sister’s French farmhouse – which is a work in progress – and substantially with our grand daughter’s extended visit and other holiday visitors. We had a good summer.


Then just before the end of August my husband tore his Achilles chasing after Rosie, and many weeks were taken up subsequently with surgery and rehabilitation.


In October we rescued our “abandonado perro” his name is Poco. It was my husband’s joke, as we have seen the suspected father who is a whopper of a dog, and Poco seems to be following in his father’s footsteps.


I had no wish for a 3rd dog, as we were happy with the balance of Rosie our runaway rescued black Labrador, and Jim our rescued border collie. I took some persauding to bring Poco home as that tiny puppy.

But here we are, 5 months later firmly thrilled with our 3rd dog who has integrated fully into the pack. It has been a lesson for me to open up my horizons and take a risk. We have had to go through puppy training, and dog training classes (for all 3), but it has paid off. Poco has a lovely life with us instead of scavenging on the streets, or at worst put down.



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What would you friends say about you – that you can’t see?

The Johari window is a technique created by Joseph Luft and Harry Ingram in 1955 to help people better understand themselves. People were asked to describe their personality, selecting adjectives from a range provided. Then their peers were give the same list and asked to describe them, and all of the answers were mapped onto a grid.

As shown in the diagram above Luft and Ingram identified 4 quadrants of a window, based on the parts about ourselves that we know, [the 2 quadrants on the left hand side of the window] the parts of ourselves that others see [the top right hand side quadrant] and the unknown.

 Charles Handy talked about the four quadrants as a Johari House with four rooms.

Room 1  holds the part of ourselves that we see and others see. Room 2 holds the aspects that others see but we are not aware, our blind areas. Room 3 is our private space, which we know but keep from others – our hidden area  which we keep behind our mask or facade. Room 4 is the most mysterious room in that the unconscious or subconscious part of us is seen by neither ourselves nor others.

Think about yourself and what information you place in the open area, the parts of yourself you choose to let others see, and those parts that you hold in the “hidden area”, these may be our dreams, our hopes and fears.

Have a look at my blog whats-your-personal-brand/ and think about the information about yourself you put into the open area.

From experience in my coaching practice, many apparently successful people maintain a façade to cover up their worries and fears. This can be very stressful and exhausting. Imagine the duck gliding across the pond – appearing to be calm and serene – with their feet paddling feverishly under the water.

And then there are the areas entirely unknown to us and others, these may be values and beliefs we have gained from an early age and that we use unconsciously to judge ourselves and others. Here lie our “red buttons” or triggers, that can provoke strong emotional reactions such as anger, or disdain if pressed. If we are self aware, we might spot them when they emerge and find ways of dealing with them, but the emotional reaction can be so intense that it takes us, and those around us, by surprise.

So what can you do about our blind areas the things that others see about us that we can’t?

They may be dangers or opportunities we don’t recognise. They may be liabilities, but they can be a source of tremendous potential strength if we can understand and cultivate them.

Let’s do some “blind spot” spotting in characters we may see around us – and just think, others may see some of these characteristics in how we behave?

  • won’t consider alternatives – the colleagues who behave predictably, they know how to do things in a certain way, and that’s what they stick to. It never occurs to them that there may be another way of doing things. They may always leave things to the last minute, even though they say “remind me never to do that again”. They repeat their behavioural patterns again and again, which is unhelpful when they don’t learn from mistakes. In contrast though, their strength is their ability to drive through successful ways of working, if it isn’t broken – why change? A combination of an obsessive need to replicate a process with determination and drive becomes an unstoppable business force in the right circumstances.
  • never admits defeat the colleagues who espouse Robert Bruce’s spider story, and “try, try and try again” – where giving up on a task simply isn’t an option. They fight and fight until they reach a resolution, and on the rare occasion when they have to admit defeat they decide “Oh well I never really wanted that anyway” and believe it! The upside of this characteristic is the strength of mind to keep trying against adversity and challenge, through their personal drive and persistence.
  • can’t see the wood for the trees – these are the colleagues who get so close to the task in hand that they plunge into detail at every opportunity, and may be seen as “nit-pickers”. By focussing on the minutiae they might completely miss the overall goal of an activity until the last minute. They know every detail of day to day activities, but may have no idea of the company mission, or the driving strategic objectives, and may be in danger of going off  in the wrong direction entirely. However, this absence of overall long term thinking can mean these colleagues are great at delivering someone’s else agenda, and their plans to the letter. They can be replied upon to stick to the task, even though they won’t spot if it begins to drift.
  • Pollyanna thinkers who don’t see meanness/disloyaltyblinded by their unstoppable positive thinking, they think the best of everyone, and believe that everyone means well, and has good intentions, because they do themselves. They trust that others will put the greater good over personal interest and don’t see the possibility or risks of dissention. They are great to have on your team, and they generate tremendous loyalty. They get a lot done and people want to work with them, if they aren’t treading all over them.
  • can’t see their own flaws – they are never wrong, they can always be guaranteed to spot the flaws and weaknesses in others, they are perfect, and expert in everything. It’s all about them. When people display anger or disappointment with them, they aren’t bothered, it’s not their problem. They are excessively self confident with total belief in themselves and their work. They are strong and powerful – self doubt is not in their DNA.
  • Chameleons who blend with whoever they are with you could call them “yes” men, because they are wholly supportive or whatever they are currently doing and who they are working with, it’s all good. They want you to be happy, until the next person comes along, and then they want them to be happy and you are history. Loyalty isn’t in their make-up. They are great fun to be with and are always in the middle of the action, but dependability – no.

Do you recognise any of these characters, or character traits? And if you do what should you do?

None of us are perfect, and it’s likely that we will display some of these characteristics from time to time. Try to become more sensitive to the body language of the people around you. You may find that there are signals that you should be mindful of about your own behaviour, are you un-wittingly closing people down? How open are you to receiving feedback, and are there opportunities to give or receive feedback safely?

Reflect on different behaviours you can develop that may be more helpful and productive.

Are you:

  • so full of your own ideas that you “but in” on other people before they have finished speaking? Try pausing before you speak, to check that the other person has finished.
  • able to see the big picture – but others are too task focussed and don’t “get” what you are saying? Gently draw out the context for them, and show how their tasks can be developed step by step along a path that leads in the right direction.
  • making too many promises or commitments and then letting people down? Try to make yourself more accountable by setting yourself a consequence if you don’t deliver.
  • so obsessively a perfectionist that you are creating friction and resentment? Try not criticising unless you can also put forward an alternative solution, offering any advice as an ally not an adversary.
  • so competitive that you are excluding other people, or switching them off? Try avoiding unnecessary conflict with them, by challenging yourself – aim for your personal best instead of concentrating on winning. If you fall short of your own expectations take the brunt of your own disappointment.

Interested in more of my reflections?

Read more in my blogs:

Find out more from Judith Sunley at www.JudithSunleyCoaching.com and check out my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jas1955 or follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/JudithSunley

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Can an old dog learn new tricks? – Yes I can!

I have recently been working on material to build a training programme for increasing self confidence (check out my earlier blogs) and linked to this, I have just delivered a programme on “Empathy and Expectations” for a client to help increase their staff’s awareness about customer service, and to look at ways of dealing with challenging behaviours.

Early in the material I prepared for presenting for the client at their Summer conference, I included this picture “Awakening Conscience” by Holman Hunt, which I found thanks to WonderfulOilPaintings.com on Google Images, which was chosen to demonstrate different perspectives.

When shown to the delegates, they were asked to write down what they saw, and there was a wide variety of responses: some saw and listed just objects, some read the emotions in the subject’s faces, and others saw and read into the picture a back story.

[Have a go for yourself and note what you see, and then look up the painting on Wikipedia to see how much detail and how many metaphors are hidden in the picture.]

What this exemplifies simply is how and why different people see and respond differently to similar events in their lives.

I won’t go into the actual content of my presentation on empathy and expectations, but suffice to say it went down well to an audience ranging from back and front office support staff, and a range of different lecturers at an adult community college. If you want to find out more about the programme just contact me.

But the point of this blog was what I learned from the experienced college principal who commissioned the presentation, and who worked closely with me to develop the content throughout the day. So I am the old dog that learned new tricks!

Previously in preparing a presentation I subscribed to the view that:

  • you tell your audience what you are going to tell them
  • then you tell them
  • then you tell them what you told them

That way everybody knows what they are going to learn and what they have learned.

The revelation I learned in preparing this presentation was about a better way of teaching and a better way of learning.

If you let your delegates explore and discover through an activity, they discover through their own learning. So instead of telling someone about a theory, and then enabling them to do an exercise practising it, you let them explore and discover through an activity, the point you want them to learn, and then you tell them the theory of what they have just learned.

Instead of disclosing too soon the information the delegate can use to gain the knowledge you want to impart, you enable them to discover it for themselves.

And that is the difference between a teacher’s approach and the approach of someone who presents information.

There is a tremendous resource in the room when delegates attend a presentation, delegates can learn as much or more from each other as they can from the “expert” at the front, if the environment is conducive to sharing the knowledge in the room! A colleague of mine calls it “infinite utilisation“.

It’s obvious when it’s set out like that, isn’t it?

It means taking a risk by demonstrating that the speaker is not all knowing, but the potential for learning is increased exponentially.

It also means relinquishing control, as the group control the pace of their learning, rather than the speaker.

And that is the other thing I learned. To relax, believe and go with the flow. My original running order of slides was chopped and changed so many times I almost lost confidence in my ability to deliver the core message. But this new way worked so much better!

Read more in my blogs:

Contact-me to learn more…

You can find more about me at www.JudithSunleyCoaching.com or check out my facebook business page https://www.facebook.com/#!/jas1955 or follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/JudithSunley

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Leadership lessons from Mandela

After our trip to Robbens Island I was interested to learn more about Nelson Mandela, and how he inspired a nation and brought forward reconciliation. Luckily I had my Kindle and was able to down load some extra books to read.

Sammons-Carpenter and Coyle have reflected on Nelson Mandela’s life and have drawn 6 lessons for leaders, which work just as well in an organisation’s work environment:

  • Prepare with discipline – Mandela was both thorough and methodical in his approach and used all opportunities available – do you?
  • Never dictate – guide people to consensus – Let everyone have their say and manoeuvre people to the solution which seems the best, it may not be yours!
  • Lead from the front and behind – be a figurehead and inspire when it counts, but also be prepared to push gently from the rear. Persuade people to do things and let them think it was their idea
  • Expect the best of your people but be realistic – Recognise that people act in their own interests but believe they want to do good.
  • Know your enemy – Learn to see the other side and know their thoughts (keep your enemy close)
  • Above all be pragmatic Be flexible in pursuing your goal – keep it in mind but don’t insist on points of principle that don’t matter in the end


Nelson Mandela’s bust at the information centre in Cape Town, en route to Robben island.

Find out more from Judith Sunley at www.JudithSunleyCoaching.com and check out my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/jas1955.

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You scratch my back

I was reading a LinkedIn group discussion before Christmas, and heard about a coach looking for a mutually supportive relationship with another coach, whereby each coach would provide coaching support for the other, and hold them accountable for agreed actions to tackle any current coaching issues. The relationship could be by phone/skype/email, so ge0graphic location wasn’t an issue.

Fees also weren’t an issue as the reciprocal nature of the arrangement dispensed with the need for charges.

What a good idea!

I hot-foot my comment into the discussion, as it seemed that the abundant universe had offered me just what I needed, as this coach operates from a town less than 20 miles away from where I live.

Currently I have a mentor and a coaching supervisor, but as yet no-one to coach me.

It wasn’t to be, however, as someone else had got in touch before me, and their deal had been struck.

I still hope to meet up with the person whose idea it was anyway as part of a wider coaching support group – but – I now have an itch to be scratched.

So I’m on the look-out for a suitable reciprocal coach.

One thing about LinkedIn that I have realised is that its bursting with coaches of all types all over the world, so maybe there is a coach out there somewhere who also thinks this reciprocal coaching is a good idea and is available?

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