Mentoring and Coaching

Section A. Background

            I was passing by the school ground when my eyes caught a girl who is sitting alone in a bench. I observed that she has a sullen face and as if her mind is preoccupied because her eyes are focused afar. I assume that the girl don’t have friends in the school. With this observation, I tried to approach and converse with her. Although she smiled at me, I felt that she was reluctant and reserved. I decided to befriend her.

When this assignment was given, I readily thought of her as my client. Her name is Fatima, a second year student getting Environmental Engineering as her course. She’s 20 year old from United Arab Emirates, specifically from Dubai.

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I am looking forward to work with her until our graduation next year which is 2010. However, I still want to work with her as long as we’re friends.

When we started the coaching session, I observed that she has an issue in associating and in confiding her problems with other people. She is shy in talking about her family. Based from the problems we’ve identified, I wish to help Fatima discover and develop her personal skills, talents, and capabilities that she could use in her academic and social life. In addition, I also look forward in motivating her to gradually change her negative perspective in life to a positive one, as well as help her realize the positive habits that she needs to develop to overcome her negative habits.

Our sessions usually took place in my flat, specifically in my living room where my client finds it cozy and comfortable. Sometimes, we also go to her flat. We always chose the place where we feel comfortable to talk together.

Section B. Definitions, Theories, and Models

            When we started the coaching and mentoring session, I coach her in identifying her real problems like her negative habits and her negative perspectives in life. Coaching, according to Matt Somer in Coaching at Work 2007 p.10, is fundamentally about helping people fulfill their potential by allowing them to recognize the things that hold them back and by helping them discover ways around them.

            After identifying the underlying problems of Fatima, I helped her decide on what ways to take to overcome them. I did not make the decisions on what she should do; I just gave her options and suggestions. She was the one who decided to on what options she will take because she knows what she wants to become and she knows what she needs to achieve. According to Parsole and Wary in Coaching and Mentoring 2000 p.22, the overall aim of coaching and mentoring is to help and support people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximize their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and enable them to become the person they want to be.

            My session with Fatima utilized Egan’s “The Skilled Helper” model where identifying the problem, analyzing the problem, developing goals and setting strategies to meet and overcome the problem has been done.

            During the process of identifying the problem, I helped Fatima realize that she has a problem with regards to managing her time for her school activities and for herself, she lacks self confidence, she has negative appraisal of herself, easily irritated and disappointed, and low self esteem. Further, her greatest issue is her negative belief. According to Sue Kujh NLP at Work by Nicholas Brerly 1997 pp.86, beliefs are views about yourself, others and the world that determine the decisions you take and the way you behave in everyday situations. Furthermore, he said that your parents or the equivalent of parent figures (and this include teachers) will be the source of many of our beliefs. This led me to investigate deeper on the personal and cultural backgrounds, and upbringing of Fatima so that I could understand her more. I believe that her country’s beliefs and practices is significant in her belief formation too.

In addition, her view of herself is influenced by the opinions of those people whom she grew up with that includes her neighbors and other relatives. According to Stephen Covey in her The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People pp. 66-93, if the only vision we have of ourselves comes from the social mirror – from the current social paradigm and from the opinions, perceptions, and paradigms of the people around us – our view of ourselves is like the reflection in the crazy mirror room at the carnival. It is then very important for Fatima to realize that she should not be affected by the opinions and perceptions of others about her because she knows herself more than anybody else.

As we get along, I was very grateful that she was able to confide her difficulties in me and we were able to establish friendship between us.

            After Fatima successfully identified her problems, I helped her develop her goals on what she wants to be and what she wants to achieve in the future. Her goals includes: getting an “A” grade and graduating successfully with honors. I gave her suggestions and options to take as strategies towards achieving her goals and overcoming her problems that may hinder her as she trudge her journey to her goals. At first, she agreed when I suggested that she make a calendar notebook where she will write all her schedules of submission of school requirements, quizzes and examinations. She also took the option of making Fridays and Sundays as her study time and Saturdays as time for her to relax and refresh.

Section C: Creating a Contract

            Fatima has been so cooperative with me. We haven’t created any contract because we considered each other as friends whom we could rely on in terms of needs and happiness. We readily and voluntarily open our hearts to each other about the things we’re undergoing. With this, we don’t think we need a contract for us to open up our problems and difficulties.

Section D: Key Interpersonal Skills

            When we started our session, I observed that Fatima’s difficulties in shown in her way of conducting herself – in her physical appearance most especially her facial expression – she can hardly smile, her eye brows are usually raised when she is upset, and she cannot focus her attention. She also unconsciously speaks loud when expressing herself. While eating, she unconsciously eat very fast when upset or angry.

            With Fatima, I have to use my listening, empathizing, and reflecting skills. In order for me to understand her situation, I have to stand back and empathize with her. This means that I have to reflect in her situation by putting myself into her shoes. For instance, in situations where she feels upset because she thinks that she cannot do her assignment, I have to consider why she thinks that way. By listening to her story, I realized that she was brought up by her parents without instilling in her mind that she can achieve what she wants if she works hard, determined and focused. She was not given her freedom to discover what she really wants and what she is capable of doing because her parents usually decide for her. Because of this, she grew up not relying in her capabilities. Instead, she developed a belief that she can’t do anything alone. As I reflect with her upbringing in life, I realized that she lost her self-confidence because of the way her parents treated and brought her up.

            I appreciate the trust that she’d given me. She voluntarily relates her life story, problems, and sentiments to me that’s why I didn’t have to talk to other people for me to gather information about her. I didn’t have to ask the school registrar about her personal records like where she came from, who her parents are, and why she is studying in our school. I personally gathered this information from her. I ask questions which she voluntarily answers.

            I ask her open ended questions like, “Why are you upset?”, “Why are you so nervous?”, “Why are you angry?”, “Why do you feel that way”? and other questions starting with why. I chose to use the open-ended questions because I believe I could help her dig deeper on the root cause of her difficulty. The open-ended question will allow her to include more information, such as feelings, attitudes and understanding of the problem. This allows me also to better access her true feelings on the issue. I didn’t use closed-ended questions, which are usually answerable by yes or no, because of the simplicity and limit of the answers that could restrain my client to reflect her real feelings.

            There is a great difference in the quality of information when asking open-ended and close-ended questions. The information I got       from asking her the open-ended questions are qualitative enough to support me in doing this paper because it offers wide scope of the topic where Fatima could freely respond.

            In giving her feedbacks about her difficulties, I gave her specific feedbacks depending on what she is encountering. For instance, when she eats very fast if she is pressured, I have to tell her specifically that she eat fast; when she unconsciously raises her voice, I have to remind her that she needs to soften her voice. There are instances also where I need to use descriptive feedbacks. For instance, she has difficulty in passing her requirements on time. At this situation, I have to describe to her what makes her late in submitting her requirements like, she usually uses her time to do unnecessary things like watching movies until dawn. This will tire her mind and make herself lazy in doing her school requirements. I have to give relevant examples from my personal experience. For instance, I have to prioritize finishing my school requirements before doing other personal things. I have to focus my attention towards achieving my goals so that I will be motivated to strive more in my classes. These examples will serve as motivation also for Fatima to set her priorities in life.

            As I get to know her deeper by asking questions, I realized that her problems and difficulties are caused by her negative perspective and belief in life. I checked this when she told me that she is not capable of doing her school requirements. She readily assumes that she will fail. Her negative belief was influenced by the environment where she grew up. She was raised without believing in herself.  With this, I felt the need of motivating her to discover her talents and skills.

            In order to motivate her, I indulge myself in telling my own life experiences and how I gain self-confidence. After which, we brainstormed about the things that she could also do to overcome her shyness and negative perspective in life. This led her to set her goals in life. The greatest challenge in her goal is how to achieve it. First, she needs to set her mind that she can do it. She also needs to learn how to stand on her own and make decisions for herself.

            Action planning usually took place at the last part of our session. The plans we made were actually self-directed. I just ask her questions and what she wants until she made decisions on what she should do. Indirectly, I initiated the plans that she made by giving her suggestions of options that she could take. The plans and decisions are all at her end.

            For Fatima to implement her plans and achieve her goals, she was faced with the difficulty on how to start with her plan. For instance, her goal on getting an “A” grade by studying her lessons, she is hard up in adjusting with the schedules she made because she was used to fulfilling her personal desires before her school requirements. In order to successfully do this, she needs to give up some of her recreational activities.

            Another barrier in realizing her plans is her mindset. Because she was raised without believing in herself, she finds it difficult to start believing in herself and make her own decisions. To overcome this barrier, I need to constantly remind her that she is responsible for her own future. I need to help her focus on her goals so that she will have the courage to take risks and try her best to stand up on her own.

            Fatima and I established a relationship which we will continue to have as long as we are friends. This is why I didn’t have to withdraw from our relationship. We could still work together as what friends usually do. However, if there will come a time that we need to part, I could say that it will be very hard since we already made an attachment to each other. To ease our pain, we could arrange to continue our communication by any means – writing letters, chatting, emails, text messaging, and phone calls. We could also arrange to meet once in a year if our distance will really be far from each other. Of course, the memories we have will be treasured forever.

Section E: Reflection on the Experience

            The whole coaching and mentoring sessions have taught me many things. I learned that in life, there are circumstances that we need to consider first before judging a person. Sometimes we meet people who display some kind of bad attitudes and reacts differently. Fatima’s experience taught me to refrain from drawing conclusions basing from what I see. Just like Fatima, how people thinks, acts, behaves, and believes are greatly influenced by their upbringing in life, the family where they belong, the community where they come from, and the experiences that have had in life. We do not react into circumstances similarly. People have their own way of reacting to things and situations that’s why we should not expect that the way we behave will be the same with someone even if the situation is the same. Furthermore, I realized that we don’t need to experience what the person has experienced before we could understand her. We just need to see the situation by seeing the person’s situation in her perspective. This means that we have to step back, put ourselves in the situation assuming that we are also a part so that we could see through the person’s perspective. This way we could understand the underlying reasons why they behave or act that way. This will also help us to determine how we should deal with the person to avoid hurting her. We learn from other person’s experiences.

            Moreover, I came to realize the importance of looking beyond the circumstance. What I mean is, for instance, I met somebody who is easily angered, I will not readily assume that the person has very bad attitude. I have to give him the benefit of the doubt because maybe, that person is undergoing some kind of difficulties in life that prompts him to act that way.

            Another lesson that I’ve learned is that, sometimes, what a person needs is not an intelligent mind but a listening and understanding heart. There are people who just wanted to open up their emotions for them to feel better. In my experience with Fatima, she actually needed someone who could listen to her sentiments. She needs to bring them out so that she could clear her mind, move forward and find alternative solutions to her difficulties. Sometimes, a person will not realize the real issue unless she brought it out to somebody who could help her look at the clear picture of the situation.

            The coaching and mentoring sessions prove to me that no man is an island. We need somebody to share with us, laugh with us, and cry with us. We can never do things on our own. We need other people’s help and thoughts to overcome the challenges that we meet in our life. In times where we seem not to see the bright side of life, we need somebody who will remind us that life is wonderful despite of the challenges that we meet.

Further, in my personal life, the lessons that I’ve learned from this coaching and mentoring session will help me understand those people that I will be encountering in the future. Satisfaction and fulfillment in real life is not only achieving our personal goals. It is also how we extend our service to those people who need our help. We find real happiness in knowing that our life was not only centered to our own personal desires but we also made an impact to other people’s lives.

            With this, I believe I could be a better individual, better friend, better child, and better citizen in the future. Fatima will always be a reminder for me that life indeed is full of complexities that we need to understand and eventually overcome.

Section F: Forward Thinking/Planning and Competence Awareness

            I’m looking forward that my relationship with Fatima will last forever. As I’ve mentioned previously, we have already established a friendship that could last for a lifetime. As long as we are near each other, we will continue resolving her difficulties. I will do my best to help her until she finally overcomes her problems. Although problems will not stop because as we continue trudging our path towards our goals, we will still be encountering challenges, we see to it that we do things together so that we will succeed.               We plan to meet four times randomly or anytime when we are free to spare our time together. As usual, we will often meet in my flat and sometimes, in her flat where we feel comfortable. The nature of the coaching will be to improve and develop Fatima’s skills and talents. Some boundaries may arise like family issues in our relationship. But as I’ve learned, I will have an open mind to understand her and her family because we grew up in two different families with different ways of raising their children.

            As we work together, we expect to make positive change in Fatima’s attitudes, behaviors, and most especially in her negative perspective in life. Further, we expect to achieve Fatima’s goal together. I will be very happy on that time because Fatima’s success will be my success too because I considered her as part of my life already.

            With the friendship that we established, we will have the opportunity to open our anxieties and concerns to each other. I believe that’s what friends are for. If something goes wrong just like with other friendship, we agreed to talk it over so that nothing could ruin our friendship. Furthermore, trust and loyalty is very essential in our friendship. Naturally, we will be encountering other people in or lives that could either destroy or damage our friendship. However, with our trust for each other, I believe that our relationship will not be easily destroyed by gossips we hear from other people. I believe that the time we’ve spent together will help us learn each other’s personality so we will know when and what to believe.

            There maybe things that will come up that will lead to misunderstanding between us because of the individual and cultural differences that we have. However, we will do our best to understand each other and try to avoid those things which could ignite more misunderstanding. There is no perfect relationship anyway so we anticipate that there will come a time when we will have differing views that could lead to misunderstanding. It is very important then that we prepare ourselves on how to deal with these circumstances. We will have to bear in mind that there are always two sides of the story which needs to be taken into account. It would not be fair to just believe to anybody whom we’ve met for a short period of time.

            Should there be instances where my coaching and mentoring competence will be needed, I am willing enough to extend it because in one way or another, associating with other people will help me understand what life really is.

             The following table will summarize important facts during our coaching and mentoring session:

My Best Example

I made myself as the best example when I relate my personal life experiences with the problems and issues met by Fatima. For instance, in reaching my goal, I need to give up some of my usual habits and recreations of going out for gimmicks just to give time for me to do my assignments and submit them on time.

Context: brief details of work undertaken, with whom and when I conducted the coaching and mentoring session with my friend Fatima on February 7, 2009 until March 20, 2009. The session includes the process of identifying Fatima’s problems, digging deeper on the root cause of her problems, setting up goals, defining strategies, and implementation of these strategies towards achieving the goals.

Level of Responsibility

In the coaching and mentoring session, my full responsibility of keeping her personal information as confidential and cannot be divulge to anybody.

Skills I Exercised

I’ve exercised my listening, observing, empathizing, and reflecting skills.

Who else was involved – and what did they do?

Indirectly, her family is involved. Indirectly because I didn’t have a personal encounter with them. Fatima’s family in involved in the session because they played a big part in her belief and behavior formation.

How I organized my work in order to deliver mentoring and coaching
I made a schedule of my daily routine so I could have time for the coaching and mentoring sessions.

What worked well on this occasion?

The techniques I’ve learned in coaching and mentoring worked well during the sessions.

What lessons did I learn?

I’ve learned a lot – being open minded, understanding, patient, trustworthy, sober, responsible, and friendly

What would I do differently on another occasion?

I would look for ways on how to discover my hidden talents and capabilities. I think I still need to know more about my self and the things that I am capable of doing so that I could also understand other people better.

Details of another example of this

oaching and mentoring session to somebody who is totally estranged with the cultures of the school. The problem would be how to adjust with the new environment, new types of people, and establishing friendship with new acquaintances.

How could this competence be applied to other situations?

This competence will be applied to other situations whose nature is similar with the situation here. This will serve as an example on how to handle situations with problems like this.

How do I measure my success for this competence?

The success of Fatima in achieving her goal will be my measurement of success in this competence. I will know if I succeeded if Fatima will display a positive change in her life.

Note: The italicized were the references I’ve used. Please be the one supply the bibliography. Should you need immediate revision, please ring me in my number +639105743508. I may have log off from the computer. Thank you and looking forward to working with you again. Thank you for the trust. I’m so sorry, I can’t make this any longer.


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