How Do You Feel About That? – The Concept of “Contact”
Managers focus on ideas and leaders focus on people. And, as individuals in senior roles, we all strive to wear both hats – “manager” and “leader” – simultaneously.
It is relatively easy to measure the work product of ideas, especially when they are metrics-driven – be they operational results, finances or units of production. But it’s quite a bit harder to measure the results of our relations with people and how well they are working and – we often hesitate to say – “Feeling” about their work and the effort and results they are achieving.
In Gestalt Coaching, one focus is on the concept of “contact” and “awareness.” Contact occurs when an individual interacts meaningfully with his or her environment, which most importantly involves other humans. It is closely linked with “awareness” inasmuch as contact with another person’s beliefs or feelings is essential for meaningful awareness, action planning and successful outcomes.
Have you ever had a moment working with another person that you both became aware of a critical issue confronting you or your organization? Think about that feeling. For a moment, when “contact” was made between two individuals, amazing synergies occurred in the moment and awareness developed in a way that helped propel you towards new solutions and ideas. Did anyone ask you how you felt about that moment? The reason we focus on such moments in coaching is that working towards those moments of “contact” can be the most meaningful experiences in the professional and personal life of any leader.
An important focus for any individual in an organization is understanding how to set the stage for “contact”, “awareness,” and the resultant successes that can ensue. A Gestalt coach will often ask, ”How did that make you feel?” as an open-ended question which will allow the client to fully understand the setting, the words and the environment that allowed the “contact”, as well as the most important factor – that being how we communicate with individuals with different learning styles, leadership styles and personality types.
When the quarterly numbers look good in a corporation, there are a fair number of “high fives.” But we can often forget that the key to achieving those numbers is establishing the contact between capable and committed people so that they can work towards the betterment of their organizational goals. Only through establishing those continued moments of “contact” and “awareness” in the continuous “Cycles of Experience” (more on this in a later Blog) can people come together and “feel” that their professional lives are meaningful, connected and, ultimately successful. And then, they can ask each other, “How do you feel about that?”