Capacity can be a scary word and one that employers, supervisors and managers can find concerning. It can be helpful to think about this area through the frame of “assume individuals are together enough to deal with their own stuff until they’re not” (Credit Claire Pendrick).
That means dealing with the individual where they are right now and asking them what you need to do to make the space safe enough for them to do their work. Experience shows that asking that question helps most individuals feel safe enough to move forward. The fact that the question has been asked is all that’s needed to make it safe enough. If there is no response or the individual completely avoids the question, this can sometimes indicate that they are not in a position to have the conversation.
Capacity can be complicated, especially when we start talking about the medical definitions of someone having the capacity to make a decision. In a coaching conversation, two people are having a conversation about one person where that person is getting insights into their stuff so they can make leaps forward or understand things better.
Sometimes the coach plays a role in capacity. What I mean by this is, have they created a safe enough space for this person to do the work they need to do? If they haven’t, they may have reduced the thinker’s capacity, and as a result, the thinker can’t do the work. This reflects on the space the coach has created, which may mean they’re just not the right coach for the thinker; often, there is no way to know this.
So an excellent way to keep the space safe is to have a single coaching session so the thinker and the coach can work this out. Then the thinker can decide if the coaching is working for them.
If you’re trying to work out what to do and are concerned about capacity, it’s well worth considering single-session coaching to find out what would be worth doing next.
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