Have you ever felt pushed in a good way?

Recently I got feedback from someone that I pushed a little too far out of her comfort zone. I often work with leaders that get the very same feedback – that they are pushing a bit too hard. I love learning from these moments. 

When they hear that they are “too pushy”, leaders often think that they must train themselves somehow to be less intense, less passionate. I never ask people to be less intense. I ask them to be more skillful, more aware. I want them to be fully themselves, but in a way that holds people safe. 

How do we learn to push people just the right amount? Create growth without defense. How do we move a person outside their comfort zone, without crossing that line beyond which it is too uncomfortable for them – where they will shut down, resist, or even worse react negatively. To develop this powerful skill, use these 4 steps: 

1. Get Permission. People really respect this. I ask: “May I probe to get more clear about what is happening here?” Or: “Is it okay with you if I push you out of your comfort zone a little?”        

2. Release Your Own Pent Up Emotion. People feel it immediately when we are taking out our own discomfort on them, and it rarely ends well. There are a wide range of emotions which can color a situation – anger, intensity, nervous energy, disturbance, grief. Make it a practice to release your own pent up emotion before embarking on any delicate conversation. 

Best ways to release this emotional energy? A vigorous workout, walk in nature, scream into a towel, music. Find what works for you to release your pent up emotion, so you can approach a difficult meeting less likely to be triggered yourself.

3. Pay Attention To Your Impact. With your eyes and your feelings, notice the level of discomfort this person is experiencing. Are they still in their comfort zone, or have you pushed just enough to get a shift? Or have you crossed that line where they are getting defensive?

4. Invite Feedback. Early in any coaching or facilitation, I have the clients agree to let me know what is happening for them. To call for a pause anytime. Tell me if I am pushing too far or too fast. That makes it safer for me as well as for them. When a person knows you will welcome their feedback without argument or judgment, they will show you how to adjust to get just the right amount of push. 

I’d love to know your experience of how you like to be pushed, or push others in the way that brings out the best in them.

David Lesser
Founder & CEO