As mentors, we often will take on roles we were never intended to take on. This article is a great reminder to us all in what to do if we are feeling a need to enter into the role of rescuer instead of remaining as the mentor.

By David Emerald & Donna Zajonc, MCC – October 26, 2018
Weekly Tips to Escape the Grip of Drama and Lead an Inspired and Fulfilling Life
The Challenge of Inquiry

Each of us have the capacity to optimize our life experience so that we are aligned with our true essence and unlimited potential as Creators. We do not need to remain in fixed patterns of reactivity and drama. But the challenge is this: we see drama in others far sooner than we see it in ourselves!

The tendency to be blind to our own drama is why asking for support from others can accelerate our learning and growth. Both the Rescuer role in the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) and the Coach in TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)® are supportive roles, but there’s a very important difference between the two.

When in the Coach role (the TED* Coach role does not have to be a professional Coach—we can all learn to Coach and develop others) the power to learn and grow is left with the other person. When in the Rescuer role, we step-in and take over, give advice and do for another what they can do for themselves. The result is actually disempowering.

Applying the skill of “inquiry” will help you shift from Rescuer to Coach. So, what is inquiry?

Inquiry means investigation, exploration and simply, “wanting to find out.” If you want to “find out,” it implies that you don’t know. Therefore, inquiry necessitates that, as a Coach, you embrace “not knowing” as the essential first step in the inquiry process.

Once you have a sense of “knowing” and you ask a question from the place of “I know this or that,” you are leaving the space of inquiry. Your questions will be directed to specific outcomes and will manipulate the conversation toward that path.

Inquiry is an open path and requires that you challenge yourself, as the Coach, about what you know and don’t know. In the work environment your prior experience with projects, co-workers and bosses can affect your sense of knowing. You may think you “know” others and their response to situations or questions. The bias of “knowing” is that you can’t begin to investigate a situation if you think you know all there is to know about it.

At best, “knowing” questions will be leading, subtle manipulation or closed-ended questions which rob yourself and others of the reflective process that supports insight and new perspectives. At worst, you will tell others what to do, which disempowers them from investigating and engaging in their own creativity.

In the true sense of the coaching inquiry, it is not a requirement to get somewhere. You are simply getting interested in what is going on. This may be difficult for a leader who thinks that they are supposed to deliver a specific answer or direction and get a person on the right path to fix their issues.

True inquiry supports others in seeing for themselves what barriers are preventing them from their unlimited possibilities as a Creator—-and discern possible Baby Steps for moving forward. However, if you enter the coaching conversation with the covert goal of “getting somewhere,” your mind and what you listen for will most likely be fixed on that “somewhere” and your openness will be limited.  You have then, consciously or unconsciously, returned to the land of knowing. “I know where we should go in this conversation.”

Learning the art and skill of inquiry will help you relax as a Coach, so you can join with others to create in powerful new ways.  As you see others as Creators in their own right—whether they act like it or whether they know it—you will have the opportunity to partner with them in the exciting process of discovery, innovation, and creating.

Reader Response
Essential management book. Very technical but the basis of all conflict resolution in the modern era.
Elizabeth Kincaid via
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David Emerald and Donna Zajonc, PCC
The “TED* Works! ®,” is an electronic newsletter (e-zine) that focuses on applying TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) ® to work and life.
TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic) and The Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT) ™ are models that are Trademarked by the Bainbridge Leadership Center and The Power of TED*. The DDT is derived, with permission, from the Karpman Drama Triangle, developed by Dr. Stephen Karpman.
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