Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Friday, February 28, 2014

Tell me how you really feel (take two)

Okay, so my third session with the coach is over and done with, and I'm gonna have to let the guy down easy. I just can't take any more of his "Slow down, you're going too fast".  We actually had a conversation about it, that went like this:

Me: Oui, okay, I am maybe a little 'speed'.
Him: A little 'speed'?  What does that mean?  Are you 'speed' or are you not 'speed'?
Me: Is it really that black and white?  There's some gray area in there as well.
Him: No, tell me - are you 'speed' or not 'speed'?
Me: But that's the thing, it's all relative. 
Him:  What does that mean, "it's all relative"?
Me: I mean, I may be 'speed' for France, but in the US, I'd be normal.
Him:  So.... are you 'speed' or not 'speed'?
Me: Argh!!!

Or how about this one:

Him: What are the consequences of  X situation?
Me: It results in me not being able to do my job well.
Him: But what does that mean "to do my job well"?
Me: What do you mean, what does that mean?  It means to do my job as I should be doing it.
Him: No, but tell me what it really means to you to do your job well.
Me: ?? be able to complete everything I need to do on a daily basis?
Him: No, but what does it really mean?
Me: (Thinking - you can keep putting the accent on different words buddy, but you're still going to get the same answer).
Him - changing tactics - Why is it important for you to do your job well?
Me: Why wouldn't I want to do my job well?
Him: But what do you care if you aren't able to do your job?
Me:  Well one, I am paid rather well to do my job, and two, if I'm going to do something, I'm going to do it right. I don't half-ass things.
Him: But why is it so important to you?
Me: Maybe it's cultural?  I come from a Scandinavian background, and they are known as hard-workers.  I also grew up with parents who worked extremely long hours, so that was the example I saw as a child.
Him:  But so why is it important to you?
Me: (I swear, if he asks me that question one more time, I am going to punch him)
Him: You do know The Company isn't going to implode just because you didn't do your job well one day, right?
Me: (Oh God, now he's going down that route....)   Yes, I do realize that The Company's entire success or failure is not related to me and me alone.  I just don't understand why it is so hard for you to understand that I want to take pride in my work.  Maybe it's a cultural difference between MN and France.
Him: I feel as if you are very distant today.  What is holding you back?
Me: (Your insane questioning!!)

And that was that.  Even though he spends about two weeks a month in the US, we apparently just couldn't bridge that cultural divide.  I am all for personal betterment, but even my Minnesota Nice couldn't justify sitting through 7 more sessions with this guy, especially since exactly one week from tomorrow, I will be defending my thesis.

(cue panic attack)


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

But how do you really feel?

A couple of weeks ago, our master's program director sent out an email saying our program was "twinned" with another masters, called " Professional Coaching".  A new session was starting, and did any of us want to be guinea pigs for their students?  It would consists of 10 sessions of 1.5hrs over the next five months.

I initially wasn't planning on it, but after talking to a classmate who had done it last year (and who subsequently obtained a gigantic promotion as a result), I decided to submit an application at the very last minute.

A week or so later, I started getting phone calls from potential coaches.  It was a bit awkward in a speed-dating sort of way.  Ie I had about five minutes on the phone with each person to decide if I wanted to meet up with them to see if the "feeling" passed or not.  I ended up picking three coaches to meet with, and very quickly narrowed it down to two.  One was a woman who could really relate to my work situation and one was a man who was quite familiar with the US.

I guess I should probably mention what I was hoping to get out of this - overall, I am happy with my job, but there are a few things that bother me on a pretty regular basis.  A lot of of it is linked to my boss being in China now, and I'm not sure if any of it can really be resolved due to the distance, but it is something I wanted to explore because there have been days this year where I have seriously considered changing jobs.  So basically the two questions I had going in were - "Can I find resolution to these issues? (or learn to live with them?)" and "If I were to change jobs, what would I want to do?" (and could I manage to integrate into a French company).

I am going on my eighth year of working for The Company, so part of me is wondering if I am just not freaking out about having worked so long for the same employer.  I have never really seen myself as someone who would spend my whole career in one place, so I worry about becoming complacent or ending up like a lot of French people and not changing jobs out of fear.   I guess I just see so many people on a daily basis here who hate what they do, but stay because of so many factors:  the famous CDI and the job security that comes with it, fear of not finding better, having a mortgage to pay, etc. 

Anyways, I ended up going with the guy because I didn't feel like the woman was objective enough about the situation.  She told me after our first meeting that she was convinced I would change jobs at the end of the coaching, and I definitely did not want someone to push me in that direction, especially since I left our meet-up feeling very negative about my job (and I slept very poorly that night too).  I really feel like our thoughts become self-fulfilling prophecies, and did not want to spend the next five months focusing on all the negatives, since there are also a lot of positives that come with my work.

But now I've had two meetings with the guy, and I am wondering if I made a mistake.  He spends his time asking me a question, and then he'll keep asking me the same question over and over again.  He says things like "No, don't answer me right away, take some time to think about it.  You don't always need to fill the silence".   And I'm like "Listen dude, I don't have a problem with long silences.  If I'm here today, it's because I have been thinking about these exact same questions for almost a year now, so I don't need to take five minutes to tell you my thoughts, I already know what they are."

Or he'll be like "Imagine yourself six months now from now. Your problems have been resolved.  Where are you and what are you doing?"  So I'll start to answer and he'll be like "No, no, slow down. Think about it first."  And again, I'm like "I don't need to think about it, I do a lot of positive visualization, and I have already visualized myself in that situation many-a-time. I can tell you exactly where I am, what I am doing and my surroundings."

There are also times where I get frustrated and feel like I can't fully get him to understand what I am trying to say (and you all know how sensitive I am about people not understanding me in French), and he will say things like "Your language is not an issue, you speak very well. I believe it is a deeper problem and that you have trouble talking about your true feelings".

At that point I thought "Ha!  If only this guy could read my blog - he would know that I am an over-sharer and have no trouble divulging personal information."

Instead, I tried to explain that I am not French, and that I say what I think the first time, ie he doesn't need to keep asking me the same question in a different way in order to get my real feelings on a matter.  But after all of that, his conclusion was that I am too "speed" and that I need to learn how to let go of things.  And that is what he wants to work on for the next 8 sessions...

So now I'm debating about what to do.  I know how much we struggled to find a partner for our thesis project, and I know this guy is depending on me for his thesis, but I just don't think I can take 8 more sessions. I have another meeting with him next week, so I will see how that one goes, but I may just have to cut the cord.  I know he is starting out as a coach, so it is normal that he is not an expert, but I am having trouble seeing how he is going to help me, especially since he doesn't even want to discuss my initial concerns.  On the other hand, I'm not a quitter, so the idea of stopping really bothers me too... oh well, to be continued!