Home Concepts Decison Making & Problem Solving Application of Cognitive Revolution Theories in Coaching Practice

Application of Cognitive Revolution Theories in Coaching Practice

22 min read

A Conflict of Desire

A quick Google Search yields the following case study from Chris Wesley:

“Geoff is intelligent and a competent professional, but in social situations, he considers himself something of a disaster, and his life is a much smaller one than he would prefer because of it. He is struggling with two sides of himself. One wants to be outgoing and fun-loving; the other fears rejection. Unfortunately, this latter half seems to be in charge. So one half of Geoff keeps putting himself in promising situations then his other half keeps sabotaging them. Geoff is very frustrated and out of ideas.” (Wesley, n.d.)

Geoff’s situation is reflective of many clients who seek coaching and exemplifies the principles born from the cognitive revolution. The first observation that is apparent in Geoff’s story deals with expectations. Gilbert’s work applies to this facet of Geoff’s situation because he appears to be setting expectations for these “promising situations” that are not met in his reality. It is a situation that everyone has experienced when expectations are raised, and the follow through falls short. Compounding Geoff’s frustration is that his hope falls party on himself and party on the reaction he wishes to elicit from others so when the reality is mismatched to his expectations Geoff internalizes his disappointment believing that it is a reflection of him trapping himself in a cycle of action and adverse reaction. As a coach, one could help Geoff see that his expectations are only one of the thousands of possible outcomes he will experience. The first step in ending Geoff’s cycle of frustration would be to address his expectations. Are his expectations realistic and achievable? Are Geoff’s expectations better viewed as long term goals? If so, what are the attainable short term goals that he can set to work towards this more encompassing goal? By coaching Geoff around the endowment effect in this way, he can experience small successes more frequently, alleviating his frustration by taking small steps to break the cycle in which he has become stuck.

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