How Learning to Salsa is Like Learning to Coach

In my 20’s I used to go to a Salsa club every Tuesday with some friends.

The night would start with a Salsa lesson.

It was super awkward to being with, trying to learn the steps, then do the steps in time with the music and then trying to let go and have fun.

Learning to coach is the same. You learn a model and then as you try it out on people it feels clunky and unnatural. Sometimes you’re not sure what step to take next and you feel embarrassed.

But you know what?

It’s ok.

Unlike in dancing, the other person often doesn’t notice. They’re too wrapped up in the joy of being listened to.

I found it easier to Salsa when I focused more on the music and less on the steps, just like in coaching, it becomes easier when you focus on the Thinker and less on the model.

But you need to know the core steps first.

Attention is the cornerstone of the dance, you come back here after ever step to fully listen to the Thinker, without interruption.

From here there are two more fundamental steps to the dance:

  1. Ask the person to “Tell me more…”
  2. Summarise back what you’ve heard, using their words as much as possible

There are many more steps in this dance and if you ever get lost they are the best to come back to.

A typical dance might look like this:

My encouragement to you this week is to give this a try with someone you have a good relationship with at work. You could even send them this link and let them know you’re going to try it with them.

Or not.

You can just start using it.

You can have the Coaching Triangle up on your screen, so you can follow the steps without anyone seeing.

You can choose to only practice one step and notice what happens.

All of these things are ok.

As long as you begin.

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