A Great Example of a Coaching Conversation on South Park - Open Ended Questions and Creating Space


South Park has always been a show that can be quite controversial, over the last 21 seasons, however they do a fantastic job of getting their message out in a creative way. Last week’s episode “Put it down” discussed about bringing awareness to distracted driving and the current political environment in the United States. In this episode, Tweek is concerned about the escalating political tension between the President and North Korea. While Craig, his partner, does what many of us are guilty of doing, hoping that advice will be the quick solution to Tweek’s problem.

Throughout the episode, more advice is given to Tweek and his frustrations continues, even though Craig is just trying to make him feel better. The couple is challenged until Heidi (Eric Cartman’s girlfriend) says the following about the Distracted Driver memorial that they are having at the school. This prompts Craig to rethink the way he has been communicating with Tweek.

“It’s not about problem solving Eric, it’s about getting people together to feel what they need to feel. People need help sorting out their emotions sometimes. The best thing isn’t giving quick answers but being there for each other and working through those feelings.” - Heidi

As an executive coach, creating a safe space to allow someone to express their feelings and determine their own course of action is a powerful tool. The next scene I have written below because it probably was overlooked by many. It follows many of the steps in my coaching process (Be Curious, Acknowledge Feelings, Go Deeper, Use their Language, Create Action, Be Specific, and Empower). I thought it was really well done. How can you incorporate good questioning and listening into your conversations?

Craig – What’s going on?

Tweek – What do you mean what it is going on? The same stuff that has been going on.

Craig – (Being Curious) - Nothing has gotten any better?? How does that make you feel?

Tweek – I feel scared. I feel alone.

Craig – (Acknowledge Feelings) - That must be horrible to feel that way. It must be hard or you to even think.

Tweek – It is. It’s terrible.

Craig – (Go Deeper & Use Their Language) I bet it’s terrible. What else are you feeling?

Tweek – Like I have no control of my life. Like I am just a pawn in a big game.

Craig – That’s a terrifying thought. You must feel trapped.

Tweek – Yes, like trapped but like completely unable to even move.

Craig – (Creating Action) - Geez. It’s like there is no solution to this. What are you going to do? What can you do?

Tweek – I don’t know...it’s like...maybe…maybe I have to find a way to be a little more in charge of me again.

Craig – (Be Specific) That sounds so instrumental though. How would you even start?

Tweek – I don’t know but I have to do something about this… (Tweek looks to Craig)…Thank you Craig. I’ve got it. People are not focused on the right thing. I know what I should do.

The “Empower” section was not discussed but was shown in the next scene which I do not want to spoil for you, which was brilliant.

Next time when you are in a conversation, try to sit back and try to use some of the questions that were used in this conversation between Craig and Tweek. It does require some patience and it might be tough to just give advice. Give that person the space to express how they feel. As a Certified Executive Coach, I help leaders in this very task of what a coaching conversation can look like and how to empower your people to develop their own solutions to their challenges.

If you would like to experience a 1 on 1 coaching conversation with an Executive Coach please reach us at info@yellowbrickrd.ca for a complimentary hour consultation. Be curious and don’t over think it. Also, if you are looking for more great content like this check out www.yellowbrickrd.ca .

As always, your yellow brick road awaits you.

James Amarelo – Founder

Yellow Brick Road – Coaching and Consulting

**Check out your local listing for South Park on Wednesday nights.

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