Tag Archives: coaching with compassion

Lymphedema and “Coaching With Compassion…”

A new acquaintance recently mentioned she had never seen a blog all about COPD and I didn’t correct her that “Other Stuff” is probably the main reason I am extra passionate about COPD and the lack of early detection Spirometry testing by the medical community for the unwary public.  And, for me, a whole new life began with a COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease) Harrison Medical Center hospital stay in 1997.

The really nasty and painful medical conditions I’ve gathered began after COPD arrived on my doorstep.  My focus is to bring awareness to slow or prevent COPD from developing in people using the simple, fast Spirometry early detection.

Without the COPD door opener, would I have gotten these other diseases?  Probably not.  They should not be allowed to develop –  no one wants them.

Among them….

Venous Stasis Dermatitis



The following study results explain a lot to me, including – maybe – why I was able to walk up to the gas guzzler on World COPD Day 2010, lift my right leg up to the running board WITHOUT the stepstool, drag my foot close enough to pull myself up and ease into the driver’s seat for the first time in about a year.  Without the footstool.  Driving isn’t an issue – getting into the seat is.  Was.

I came to believe that treating my legs was hopeless – that I was doomed to an increasing level of open sores running ooze down my lower legs and to the most amazing unrelenting pain.  I’d been treated by good people in two different places with the same results.  I wouldn’t go back.

My doctor told me about another person in another place. I was reluctant to go and would not until the pain made me weary and desperate enough to see anyone – even Red Riding Hood’s wolf.

Melissa at Center for Orthopedic & Lymphatic Physical Therapy in Port Orchard could well be a poster child that “Coaching With Compassion…”works.  She reaches and teaches patients.  I know.


Coaching With Compassion Can ‘Light Up’ Human Thoughts

Coaching happens just about everywhere, and every day, with learning as the goal.

Effective coaching can lead to smoothly functioning organizations, better productivity and potentially more profit. In classrooms, better student performance can occur. Doctors or nurses can connect more with patients. So, doing coaching right would seem to be a natural goal, and it has been a major topic of research at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management since 1990.

For all the energy and money spent on coaching, there is little understanding about what kind of interactions can contribute to or detract from effectiveness. Ways of coaching can and do vary widely, due to a lack of understanding of the psycho-physiological mechanisms which react to positive or negative stimulus.

Internally funded research at Case Western Reserve has documented reactions in the human brain to compassionate and critical coaching methods. The results start to reveal the mechanisms by which learning can be enhanced through coaching with compassion (a method that emphasizes the coached individual’s own goals).

“We’re trying to activate the parts of the brain that would lead a person to consider possibilities,” said Richard Boyatzis, distinguished university professor, and professor of organizational behavior, cognitive science and psychology. “We believe that would lead to more learning. By considering these possibilities we facilitate learning.”

Boyatzis and Anthony Jack, assistant professor of cognitive science, philosophy and psychology, have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to show neural reactions based on different coaching styles. Their research builds on previous knowledge of Intentional Change Theory, which holds that positive and negative emotional attractors create psycho-physiological states that drive a person to think about change.

Boyatzis, a faculty member at Weatherhead School of Management, and Jack, director of the university’s Brain, Mind and Consciousness Lab, say coaches should seek to arouse a Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA), which causes positive emotion and arouses neuroendocrine systems that stimulate better cognitive functioning and increased perceptual accuracy and openness in the person being coached, taught or advised. Emphasizing weaknesses, flaws, or other shortcomings, or even trying to “fix” the problem for the coached person, has an opposite effect.

“You would activate the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA), which causes people to defend themselves, and as a result they close down,” Boyatzis says. “One of the major reasons people work is for the chance to learn and grow. So at every managerial relationship, and every boss-subordinate relationship, people are more willing to use their talents if they feel they have an opportunity to learn and grow.”

What Boyatzis and Jack set out to do was to observe brain images which reflect coaching tone. Undergraduate volunteers met with two academic coaches, who intentionally used different interviewing methods. One encouraged envisaging a positive future, and the other set a more standard tone by focusing on a person’s failings and what he or she ought to do.

“We know that people respond much better to a coach they find inspiring and who shows compassion for them, rather than one who they perceive to be judging them. Sure enough, we found a trend in the same direction even for the neutral questions. Students tended to activate the areas associated with visioning more with the compassionate coach, even when the topics they were thinking about weren’t so positive,” Jack said.

“We were really struck by one particular finding in the visual cortex, where we saw a lot more activity in the more positive condition than in the more negative condition,” Jack explained. The brain areas observed are associated with imagination and operate at the intersection of basic visual processing and emotion. Jack says the fMRI images show the neural signatures of visioning, a critical process for motivating learning and behavioral change.

“By spending 30 minutes talking about a person’s desired, personal vision, we could light up (activate) the parts of the brain 5-7 days later that are associated with cognitive, perceptual and emotional openness and better functioning,” Boyatzis said. “The major implication is that people typically coach others in higher education, medicine and management with a bias toward the NEA and correcting what the person is doing that is wrong. Our study suggests that this closes down future, sustainable change, as we expected.”

Coaching with Compassion: An fMRI Study of Coaching to the Positive or Negative Emotional Attractor was presented at a recent Academy of Management Annual Meeting in Montreal and awarded as a Best Paper.

“Everyone’s got to look at weaknesses and take them on,” Jack says. “But often the focus is so much on the bottom line that we worry ourselves into the ground. It is more important to focus on what gets you going in the morning and gets you wanting to work hard and stay late.””


A Lymphedema Story  Part 1 of 4

Never give up – Trek Tri Island American Lung Association of Washington

More later… Sharon O’Hara