How I apply Indi Young’s problem space research approach in coaching my mentees

Understand your mentees deeper and go beyond ‘what went well’ and ‘what went wrong’.

Are we truly listening with empathy in our coaching? (Image by Elina on Blush)

What is this ‘magic’ of listening deeply, really?

Listening deeply is a powerful skill. Most people don’t realize they are listening at the surface, so the experience doesn’t seem to shift anything. — Indi Young

Listening is the foundation for inclusivity, new market opportunities, and powerful team efficiency … If a professional has the awareness to recognize then (that) they are reacting, judging, or being triggered, they can hit the mental pause button and decide what to do next. — Indi Young

How do we listen deeply, then?

1. I identify the ways I already listen

When someone is talking, we are often occupied with thinking of what we want to say in response, which affects the way we listen. Adapted slides from Indi Young.

a. Thinking of what I want to say in response

b. Relationships affect the way we listen

2. I discern surface conversations from depth

Photo by Damir Mijailovic from Pexels
Source: Indi Young
Examples of inner thinking
Examples of reactions
Examples of guiding principles

3. I get past the surface to depth

Photo by Rudolf Kirchner from Pexels

a. Here’s an example of a typical mentor/mentee conversation:

Mentor: How has the week been for you?

Mentee: It’s normal, I guess.

Mentor: Oh okay then. What went well and what went wrong for you?

Mentee: Generally most things went well… nothing major went wrong…

Mentor: That’s great! No major wrong is something good.

Mentee: ….

b. Here’s an ideal example of a conversation that tries to get from surface to depth:

Mentor: How has the week been for you?

Mentee: It’s normal, I guess.

Mentor: … you guess?

Mentee: Yeah… well… honestly, it hasn’t been easy.

Mentor: Hasn’t been easy?

Mentee: Well… I had a meeting with a stakeholder about our new project. He doesn’t seem to understand what’s important to the team. We’ve been running in circles with this new stakeholder.

Mentor: What’s important to the team…?

Mentee: He seems to play down everything the team has done, despite our best efforts to remain polite and kind towards him.

Mentor: How did you feel during that meeting?

Mentee: I feel unappreciated and my feedback on the project is not fully accepted. But now I feel like the stakeholder and I are at odds… It’s just going to be very hard to keep working with him.

Mentor: What are the things at odds …?

4. I review and comb my mentee’s journals for their reactions throughout the year

Photo by Vlada Karpovich from Pexels

6. Then, I discover triggers, both good and bad, that they have experienced

An example of a journal entry

7. I provide advice and guidance to overcome these triggers

Photo by slon_dot_pics from Pexels

Independent Researcher, Content Strategist and Leadership Mentor in Malaysia. Previously Design Lead at Traveloka Malaysia & Singapore.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store