Most clients I work with are amazingly smart, generous and strong. What’s holding them back is that they're playing small.
So my job is to dust them off from sitting around, help them mentally stretch, and get them back into the “game.”
These people range from doctors with PhDs and professional athletes to your typical husbands and wives who wants to improve their relationships with their spouse. Helping them through transitions often begins the same way -- understanding why they do what they do.
Recently, I worked with several Major League Baseball players and coaches. I started by giving each person a four-quadrant behavioral assessment to identify their strengths and blind spots as communicators. The exercise also showed them how to identify these same characteristics in other people.
This communication component is critical because the players and coaches are on the road 6-8 months of the year. When they come home for the off-season, they often expect their significant others to give up the reins to day-to-day activities and let them head the household.
After all, when you’re an athlete at such a high level, many times you’re an alpha male and like to take control. So when these individuals come home, they think, "Okay, I'm home. Let me take charge. I’m going to do this and this. And that’s going to be done this way.”
Of course, the language may be more specific and edgier, but you get the idea.
What happens, though, is the wife has a certain routine and has been running the household with the kids. She does everything well without the husband always around. So when he returns and wants to take over or disrupt that routine, there’s tension.
I've had a number of coaches either on the brink of divorce, or already divorced, wanting to know how to improve their communication, especially with their significant other. In fact, it’s a common problem in all marriages where one spouse travels a lot.
After I went through the assessment process with the players and coaches, the very next year I received calls from three coaches. They all said everything ran smoothly within two days when they transitioned home during that off-season. Whereas it previously took about a month to six weeks to steady the communication patterns and behaviors.
The key is working together to create trust, coming to a common goal and showing respect -- whether the communication is with a significant other, your subordinate or your peers.