It Works for You: It Doesn’t Work for Me

by Steven M. Smith · 11 comments

When you coach another teammate, keep in mind that

what works for you may not work for me.

Let me share an example  —  a service I offer is coaching people on how to more effectively lead team meetings. Whenever a team is exploring a topic, there comes a time when the facilitator needs to gain everyone’s attention so they can move the process to the next step.

When I’m the facilitator, that’s easy for me to do. I stand-up, raise my hands and say, “Let’s stop for a moment.” That works 95% of the time. If it doesn’t, I say those words louder, sometimes shouting them out. I can’t recall that ever failing to gain everyone’s attention.

I used to think standing up and raising my hands was a powerful method, “a secret,” for gaining everyone’s attention. It works for me. Why shouldn’t it work for everyone?

A decade ago, my colleague Esther Derby quickly dispelled any notion that I had discovered a universal facilitation secret. She told me that that the same method didn’t work for her. She correctly pointed out that it probably worked for me because I am a 6′ 3″, 205 lb (191 Cm, 91Kg)  male with a deep, loud voice.

When I coach people about facilitation, I explore with them ways they can gain everyone’s attention. For instance, they might clang a bell, wave a flag or stand on a chair. Sometimes the methods I personally use may work for them, but I assume adjustments are always required.

Consciously knowing more about what you do to produce an effect is vital starting point for transferring what you know. Feedback from others will take you another step towards more conscious knowledge. But keep in mind, what works for you may not work for me.

Poor coaches just tell their teammate how they do things. Great coaches tailor advice so it fits their teammate rather than themselves.

Be a great coach.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Gil Broza January 10, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Absolutely. I also raise my hands and say what you say, but being half a foot shorter and having a less booming voice, I get the desired result much less than 95% of the time…


Steven M. Smith January 10, 2010 at 5:26 pm

Hi Gil, Thank you for the feedback and making me laugh.


Dwayne Phillips January 11, 2010 at 4:24 am

You tall people are all alike, ruling the world…;-)


Steven M. Smith January 11, 2010 at 8:04 am

Hi Dwayne, Some tall people may be ruling the world, but I’m not one of them. :-) Thank you for the feedback.


Johanna Rothman January 13, 2010 at 6:54 am

Gee Steve, your approach works for me :-)) I just think I’m 7 feet tall.
On the other hand, I have also learned from Esther, and sometimes see how quiet I can be and still get people’s attention. I’m not so good at the quiet part :-)


Steven M. Smith January 13, 2010 at 9:50 am

Hi Johanna, You are 7 feet tall in your mind so it’s no wonder the same approach works for you. :-) Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts.


Don Gray January 24, 2010 at 6:13 am


My dad told me, “Son, never confuse the size of the dog in the fight with the size of the fight in the dog.”

Thinking you’re 7 feet tall works for you because inside, you are 7 feet tall.


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