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a blog by Chris Barrow


This is perhaps my favourite You Tube video of the year so far.

Admittedly an advert for a TV series and, therefore, perhaps contrived but if you ignore that and take the 3 minutes on their own merits, the authenticity and vulnerability of the piece touched my heart.

Having viewed a few times, I can never fail to smile as I watch.

Typically, I then paused for thought, to ask myself why?

At first contemplation, my reaction may seem to be a touch of voyeurism, peeking through a keyhole at strangers in intimate connection.

A deeper consideration is that what you and I are witnessing here is an echo of an earlier time in our lives, when the world was less complicated and we too, were simple, undressed and engrossed in one single communion with another.

The 21st Century “connected economy” has enveloped us in a cloud of disconnect from those we queue with at airport security, sit next to on a train, share a hotel restaurant with over breakfast – all of us hunched over our devices.

Ineffectively communicating in bites and bytes with those the furthest away from us about the thick edge of thin things. Too busy to turn to the person next to us and make conversation.

Are you, like me, the type who always chats to a cab driver, smiles at a receptionist or maitre d’i and asks them how they are? Do you regularly take risks and engage strangers in conversation just to see what happens, delighted when they respond with a smile and amused when they react with surprise or defence?

There is a metaphor in this video for my best days as a coach.

Not undressing the client physically (or mentally) but undressing them metaphorically, often by undressing myself first.

Naked coaching.

Encouraging the client to “reveal all” by revealing all of yourself.

Over the years, some people have run a mile when I’ve attempted this, usually because they are so unfamiliar with that level of authenticity in their own personal and professional lives. They have hidden behind the bullshit for so long that it’s the only place they know.

The good news is that most of my clients over the years have been overjoyed when they have realised and understood that such transparency wasn’t going to engender ridicule, criticism or judgement.

When you get naked with a client, the best coaching happens.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the same is true in leadership, management and patient relationships and that those with whom you get naked don’t bitch, moan, whine or sue.

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