In real life, sometimes you are the helper and sometimes you are the one who needs help. Sometimes you are the listener and sometimes the sharer. Healthy relationships among peers in are not a one-way street. But if we can be the first to step forward and engage with the people God has placed in our lives in such a way that we listen well and ask good questions, we bring a great gift to others.
You have likely heard of career coaching or life coaching. We can basically serve as ‘life coaching lite’ with our friends and neighbors. When a friend is struggling with her small children, you could ask, “What have you tried so far?” Then listen. Follow up by asking, “What else might you consider trying?” Then listen. “What could that look like with your kids?” Then listen. Then say, “Let me know how that goes next time we meet up.” And then next time you meet up, be sure to ask. This is “coaching lite”—better known as being a good and helpful friend… the kind of person who just generally helps and supports others through life.
Expanding this approach into our social circles and our neighborhoods can yield incredible benefits in the life of the community. With enough people practicing these eminently learnable skills in the same community, those who enter into that community can feel the difference in just minutes. People who walk in and sense it, even if they can’t put words to it: “This is a community that welcomes, that invites, that wants to get to know me, that genuinely cares.”
Working toward harmony amongst neighbors
And for those readers who are the realists among us, you know that no community works well all the time. In any gathering of people, there is the very real possibility of conflict, tension, secrecy, gossip, and division. Living with the general posture of a coach can help with these situations as they arise. Let’s say we have an employee angry at management. Or we have a school volunteer angry with the staff person who oversees their role. What can an informal coach do? Here are some great responses:
- How would you imagine the other person is viewing the situation?
- What steps could be taken to move toward resolution?
- What would a helpful response look like on your part?
- Who could help you navigate this situation with grace?
The presence of coaching skills scattered broadly through a community will provide tools that can be applied in even the most difficult situations.
Looking for more applications for your coaching skills? Check out this ever growing collection of blog posts with great ideas and solid coaching practices in various arenas.