Ep 47 What Kind of Enabler Are You?
Welcome fellow confidence crusaders, neuronal nerds and success equalizers. This is your podcast, Real Confidence. I'm your host, Alyssa Dver, and I'll be sharing a bit of basic brain science, some surprising social secrets and a touch of tough love. Why? Because I believe confidence is everyone's fundamental right and choice. So, let's get to it.
For years, I would have this somewhat running joke with my husband that when I would leave dirty dishes in the sink. He would get mad at me. He would really kind of come down and look what are you, lazy? Why can't you do your own dishes? But of course he would wind up doing them himself because that's his personality type to get it cleaned and out of the way. I used to say to him, “What, are you worried that the dishes are going to walk away? I'm going to be there when you come back. Just leave it. I'll do it later. And we had this potentially significant clash between us for many years. You know, I joke about it now, and of course, we both kind of met in the middle. I'm a little bit better for sure about doing my own dishes, but at the same time, he doesn't get as mad and maybe breathes a little harder when he sees the dirty dishes in the sink, whether it's mine or one of the kids. But I suspect you're listening and you have some equal situation where maybe somebody, maybe it's you do other people's laundry or you're doing the homework for your kids. Or you are, you get aggravated when somebody just doesn't pick up something or doesn't do something that you expect them to do. And so instead of asking them to do it courteously, politely, so to speak, you get mad and maybe you do it yourself and get even madder that you're doing it.
But on the flip side, my husband, who is a wonderful human, has also over the years learned to let me vent. That's one of the things that I know he does not because he loves hearing me kind of download my days aggravations and what's going on. But he just knows it's an important part of my process. And that's a service, if you will, that he can offer sitting at the dinner table, kind of shaking his head, engaged in a way that I kind of can tell he's not quite there, but he's there enough to really be part of the conversation. But he allows me to do it and encourages me to do it and in that way. He knows he's helping me really process through some issues, some ideas, particularly as the CEO of companies that I manage. It's hard. I don't always have people that I can confide in or should confide in with some of these issues. But again, my husband, who's not in the business, so to speak, can ask enough questions now to help me really process through and figure out things in a way that maybe nobody in the business can.
Now, whether we're talking about the dirty dishes or dishing about the dirt of the day, I think he in particular, maybe again, you're do this for other people or somebody does these things for you. They're both well-intentioned efforts to do the dishes, to listen to you vent, they want to be helpful. You want to be supportive of the person who needs that help. Right? But there are very different motives why we do one versus the other when we do somebody else's dishes, so to speak, metaphorically. We are really not teaching them or helping them learn to do it for themselves. Now, I know it sounds almost ridiculous. Like, of course somebody else can learn how to do a dish and all that, but you are also putting your own rules, your parameters, your needs as the lesson, as opposed to helping somebody else figure out that on their own. And so we are not empowering those people, we are actually controlling those people. We're not teaching or telling. And so I'm going to label these two different enabling acts, if you will, these enabling results, one as the coaching enabler and the other as the controlling enabler.
So let's start with the controlling enabler, because it's a little juicier. And I think in many cases, again, we have good intention, maybe we really think we're doing a good thing, but in reality we're doing some pretty horrible things. So what we are assuming is that there is a right way or wrong way in this scenario. When we say to somebody, you need to do the dishes and they don't do it, and then we decide to do them ourselves the next time, because we can't be bothered, because we know in our heads that we want to have clean dishes. We don't want dirty dishes in the sink and it bothers us. And because we don't think that the other person is going to do it or maybe is not capable of doing it, rather than just realizing that it's not their value system, their priorities, but ours that are being violated. So we can't be bothered to tell them again, we can't be bothered to teach them, we can't be bothered in in anyway shape or form to be aggravated about it again. So, we just do the dishes. We just do the homework. We just do the laundry. And when we do those things. They get done. They get down to our standards. They get done in our minds faster, better, easier than if we try to get the other person to do it.
But have we really gained anything? And we really fixed the situation in a sustainable way because you know that when you do that for somebody, they get dependent, they get reliant on you just taking care of it. Leave my dish in the sink. I know my husband's going to wash it. Don't do my homework. Mom's going to do it for me. And more severe than that, the dependency, the manipulation, if you will, of that person, because we are basically doing it for them. We're saying we're letting them off the hook, but we're also saying you can't do it. You don't know how to do it. We're going to do it better, faster, more productively than you can do it. That's confidence deprivation. That's confidence deprivation.
Now, I'm also going to throw some more negativity at you, because sometimes we like to label these personality types. We like to label these participation strategies, if you will, in somebody's life. And we like to say that we're fawning them or that we're just a doer. But in reality, not only are we controlling, are we being imposing on someone else's life our kids, our spouses, our partners, our friends, whoever it might be. But in reality, you are lazy. We're lazy. We can't be bothered to teach them to have the patience, to really explain to them why it's so important to us that this thing gets done now. Having dirty dishes in the sink, which is a silly but very powerful example here. It bothers my husband. So instead of him telling me why and how it bothers him, and if I could make an effort to not do that for the following reasons would be a lot better tactic if you think about it, than just doing the dish, pissing me off and making me almost feel incapable. Not worthy enough. Right? And unfortunately, the receiver that may take advantage of it, too. Right? Because I know I can get a rise out of it. I know I can get mom to do my stuff if I just don't do it. Right? So it is not a good enabling, controller enabler. Not good. Not good. In fact, I want you to watch yourself for the following phrase came up the other day in my own household, and it stops me in my tracks when people say this, which is, "if I were you, I would." If I were you, I would. You're not me. And if you would do that and just bloody do it. Right? It is that invitation to be a controller enabler. So, watch for that phrase.
But, I want to flip over to what I would consider in a much better type of enabling, which is what I'm calling the coaching or the coach enabler. And in this case, you again have good intention you want to help others, but instead of doing it for them, your primary motive is to be a thought partner. A thought partner, not even a do partner, a thought partner, because when you help others think, when you help them process what is already in their heads, they know how to a clean a dish. They probably know how to do their homework. They may not know how to do answer all the questions in their homework, but they know how to tackle homework. They know how to do it. When you help them figure out what's holding them back from doing it, what kind of help do they need to do it? You empower them in such a powerful way, I don't think you realize it.
Because not only do they then say, Oh, I can do this, I want to do this, I want to get that dopamine drop. I want to feel accomplished. But you build that muscle in their brain so that next time they find they face a challenge they have the ability to figure out how to get over it themselves. They don't have that dependency. Now, that cognitive muscle, that ability to see a problem, to recognize something that's freaking them out, that's fearing them or otherwise they just know is something they don't want to do and be able to say, hmm, now can I get this done? That's the gift of confidence. And there is no greater gift. But when you do something for somebody in a way that is at your standards, in your timeframe, in your value system and you don't let them do it, then you don't let them figure it out, you encourage their dependency. I want you to think about this. You are literally stealing their confidence.
So how do you act like a coach? How do you build confidence? How do you help somebody make better decisions? I'm going to teach you how to do that. And I'm hoping that this is one of the greatest gifts, because if I can give you a way to enable other people in a coaching way. You can give the gift of confidence to them. To your children, to your spouses, to your partners, your friends, to your employees. So we're going to give one thing first. We're going to give our sponsor a little bit of love here. And in a few seconds, I'm going to come back and I'm going to teach you a light version of the coaching methodology we use at American Confidence Institute. We've been doing it for ten years. It works. And hopefully you'll come back to your how.
This podcast was sponsored by the American Confidence Institute. ACI teaches smart, hardworking people how to use basic brain science to more effectively coach themselves and others. ACI is endorsed by top universities, the Strategic Management Association and International Coaching Federation. Learn more about ACI's uniquely empowering keynotes, workshops, classes and coaching certification at www.AmericanConfidenceInstitute.com.
[Thank you for staying with me here because I'm going to give you this concept and some details around how do you coach somebody to enable their confidence. Now, again, we've been doing this at ACI for over ten years. It is a sanctioned accredited methodology. The International Coaching Federation and the Society for H.R. Management both give actual continuing ed credit. If you take some of our courses built on this, built around this, that teaches this. It is really, really powerful. It's designed to do everyday coaching, not the kind of thing you sit down with somebody once a week for an hour. But this is the kind that you can literally be in the kitchen making dinner, using with your kids or over the dinner table with your spouse or an employee, whether it's during a review or just a weekly one on one when you're like, hey, you know what's going on? And they bring up an issue. This is really, really simple, but it's extraordinarily powerful. So let me describe how it's done and a little bit why it works so well.
First and foremost, it's all about asking questions, asking questions. And we do have kind of scripted ways to ask, you know, the methodology questions. But I want to kind of give you a sense of how you can ask good questions in any situation. First and foremost, ask what's going on. You know, Tony, for example, if I were the coach, tell me what's bothering you. What's the issue? And let somebody just talk about it. Make sure that it's not too general. Like if they're saying Mary is really aggravating me, the next question should be, what is Mary doing that's aggravating you? And the next question after that is why does it aggravate you? So ask enough questions so that you literally end up at a very clear sense of what the problem is, what the problem is. And the problem is usually not the issue that the person came in your office or sit down at the dinner table with. That's just the excuse. And so, for example, in our practicums that we do every couple of weeks here. Somebody always picks the you know, the problem is that my voice isn't getting heard or the problem is, I don't like to present, I don't want to present anything makes me nervous. Those aren't the problems, that's the situation. But the problem at the core of all of them is fear.
There's something you're scared of. And the scare, as we harp on in all our podcasts, is going to smell like the fear of failure. The fear of regret. And inevitably the fear of rejection. The people aren't going to like me. They're going to think I'm stupid, weird, strange, incompetent. And that fear when it's looked in the face, when somebody says, I'm afraid to present because people may think I'm not as smart. Or I don't like what Mary does because she talks down to me and it makes me feel like I'm failing. When you see that fear clearly, then you can tackle it. Then you can figure out a way to at least mitigate it, if not remove it. So, ask questions. Ask questions until you get to the point where it's very clear what the problem is, what the fear is. And then the next one is okay, well, what do you think you could do to reduce the fear? What is something that would make that fear less scary and push to get two, three, four good answers. And I say good. Some are going to be harebrained, you know, like some people will say, well, I don't like to present. Why? Because I think people are going to find out that I'm not as smart as they think they are. A little bit of imposter syndrome going on there. Or they they're just not going to like me. They're going to think that I'm not like they are. Okay. So how could you mitigate that? Well, one of the ways you could do it is just not present. Say, no, no, no. Well, I have to present because it's part of my job if I want to get promoted. Okay. So you have to present and you don't want other people to think that you're not smart. So what are the things you could do to avoid that fear?
And again, here's the key. Keep asking questions. Parents, consultants, managers, we're all put in a position of we're supposed to be giving advice. But when you're a coach, your job and it's hard is to let the other person determine the right answer. So, keep asking questions. If you're about to say, well, what about this? Or again, if I were you, I would. Stop. Stop. Ask the questions. What's another way that you could tackle that fear? And you're going to hear some crazy answers. I've heard them all. I mean, let me tell you, I've heard them all. But keep asking the questions. Get three or four potential solutions out of that person. And at the end of those three or four, when you feel like there's enough there that at least one or two of them are yeah, you know, that could work. Then your next question to that person is going to be which one of those ideas do you think would work best for you right now? Now you're never going to have all the information. You're never going to have all the data, the risk, statistics and all that. But for most situations, you don't need them, nor do they exist. What is the best of the four that you just laid out that you think would work best for you right now? And let that person answer.
Again, the hardest part of this methodology is to not give advice, to not put your own opinion in there. Now people will say, well, can I give some guidance? If the other person says, do you have an idea? Sure. But do not voluntarily say let me let me give you some more ideas. Once that person picks the idea that they feel is best and they give you some rationale why, you have not only literally lumbered up and strengthened their confidence muscles. But they're holding it on their own. So instead of saying to them, can I check with you in a week? Which is what Again, a lot of coaches are taught for accountability reasons. Accountability is very powerful, extraordinarily powerful. But a better way to ask is to ask for accountability.
So once a person picks their idea, let's just say they said, well, you know, I hate giving presentations, but I think next time what I'm going to do is I'm going to build the presentation and run it by one or two of the people that are going to be in the room in advance just to get their input. Great. That would that would allow you walk in the room. You know, you have two fans already and you have the opportunity to get input, change it, and you walk in already kind of with that empowerment. That's a great idea, Mary. I love that we're using that. You picked it. I love the fact that you came up with that idea. That's great. So in this new strategy that you're going to tackle, that you're going to try next time, how can I help you? As your coach. And how can I help you? The answer may come back is I'm good. I'm really fine. And you might have to swallow a lot, particularly if you're the parent, particularly if you're the manager and you're saying to yourself, I am responsible for this person. I'm responsible so they don't make bad choices. Well, here's the change. You are responsible for that person's confidence. You are responsible to teach that person, not to tell that person. And so if they come back and say, I don't need your help, thanks anyway. What the best thing you can do at that point is say, hey, you know what when you try that strategy, would you let me know how it worked? Because I'd be interested for myself and I want to help you celebrate your success.
And that is a little selfish. It's basically saying, I want to be part of your world. I want to learn from it. But at the same time, you're not imposing your opinion. You're not controlling that person. When you allow that individual to not only make their own decisions about how they want to tackle, but what your role is in this lesson, in this learning, in the process, you're handing them a bowlful of confidence. And by the way, when they come back, meaning telling you that it worked. It worked. It worked. Next time they find a big mountain that's scary that they don't know how to go over, they just may come back to you and say, hey, could you help me get through this one, too? And again, you're going to repeat that process because the goal is not for them to run back to you every time. The goal is not for you to do their dishes or their laundry or their homework, but your goal is to help them figure out how to do it for themselves so that they feel strong and enabled.
My friends, this is so deep. I hope that you appreciate this because it's really been bothering me as I hear friends and family who are not just helicopter parents, but literally now these days I don't even know what to call it. It's like they are tow truck parents. They're pulling their kids along and their kids are like, all right, you know what? I don't put the effort. I see this in managers who are trying to do their best, but they're getting frustrated and aggravated when they tell somebody to do something and that person doesn't do it. And the reason is because if you're a controlling enabler, there's no reason for that person to do it. So please take, I hope, this gift. I'd love to hear feedback at any time. I love, love, love to hear what you think. And if this methodology works for you, and if you really want to get down with the methodology and get really knowledgeable and practiced in it because that's what we do in our practica. Please check out some of the resources we have at the American Confidence Institute, particularly the coaching certification.
So for today, I'm going to leave you with all these thoughts and thank you. And I hope this is enabled you in a beautiful coaching way. Before we totally wrap up, I want to let you know that full transcripts and show notes for this and other Real Confidence episodes can be found on www.AmericanConfidenceInstitute.Com/podcast. I also want to remind you once again that the best way to get confidence is to give it to others. And you can do it just by liking and sharing this episode on your preferred podcast and social media channels. You can even give me some confidence by noting topics you'd like me to consider for the future. So, for now, this is Alyssa Dver. Thank you for helping to bring more confidence to the world.
Master editing done by Ben Weinstein with original music performed and composed by Jeff Mitchell. Real Confidence is a production of American Confidence Institute. All rights reserved.