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Working With Needs and Values

By Pernille Plantener
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Originally Published in Coaching for Transformation

A father wanted support to connect with his teenage daughter who repeatedly accused him of being rude to her. He was in pain, having a hard time remembering his love for her—all he saw was her hostile face and her demanding attitude.

He didn’t have easy access to his feelings so I asked what his heart looked like, if viewed from the outside. “It’s all tied in barbed wire,” he said. I stayed silent while something worked in him. “Well actually it is there to protect, but it hurts me as well.”

I asked, “What makes protection so important?”

“This heart is very, very fragile,” he said and at that moment, tears came to his eyes.

“What is your heart longing for?” I asked quietly.

“Oh it wants company,” he said. “Gentle company.”

Again we sat in silence. He obviously connected strongly with the need for gentleness and company and I felt no need to push anything.

After a while, he shifted his attention toward his daughter. “I guess she is trying to find identity,” he said. “And perhaps…. Perhaps she wants to push the borders in order to know that she is loved, no matter how she behaves. Perhaps she could do with some gentleness as well.”

He walked away with a strong commitment to connect with her and let her know of his vulnerability—as well as willingness to receive hers in whatever form it might take.

This conversation took about 15 minutes and I didn’t propose a single feeling, need or strategy. Yet, we swam in the ocean of feelings and needs from beginning to end and completed with a powerful strategy, all in alignment with his values of responsibility and love as a father. The client became self-aware using his own words and found a strategy that was simple and intuitive.


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