Facilitating A “Knew” Normal - International Coaching Federation
COVID-19 Resources for ICF Coaches

Facilitating A “Knew” Normal

Posted by Carolyn Hamilton-Kuby, CEC, PCC | June 11, 2020 | Comments (0)

Using Word Play and Freeing Up Fear During and Beyond the Pandemic

In the midst of the global pandemic, coaches have wonderful gifts to give clients, the world and ourselves!

The real and potential threats (and impacts) related to the pandemic can be frightening. People are scared. People who are in positions to protect our health and welfare are scared, on many levels, and for very valid reasons. That’s scary in itself!

Feeling fear is totally understandable, and normal, given the situation. The virus has affected—and shifted—life as we’ve known it. Tragically, it has ended life itself for beloved members of our global family.

The unknown aspect of this novel virus contributes to anxiety, as people are dealing with high levels of unpredictability and uncertainty (in the present and, in anticipation of, the future).

Acknowledging the value of counseling in dealing with anxiety (as well as grief and depression), I’ve pondered how we, as coaches, might help people who are feeling stuck—who are not moving forward—due to feeling fear in the present and/or of their future.

The ICF Core Competency of “Creating Awareness” involves facilitating discovery of new possibilities. In my experience, a powerful approach in creating awareness during challenging times lies in helping individuals remember—and leverage—their internal strengths and resources, based on past experiences that were successful.

When that happens, we help the client create what I call a “knew normal” in the midst of dealing with uncertainty. While the client recalls something they already knew about and/or knew how to do that worked in the past, new awareness is created in the realization of how that experience could apply to the current situation.

And, if the client shares that past endeavors to deal with uncertainty have not been successful, it can be a great opportunity to offer brainstorming together to discover client-tailored solutions. That offer of partnership brings an enhanced level of support to the client—and feeling supported can help decrease anxiety in itself.

In instances where the client shares that past attempts to manage fear around uncertainty haven’t been successful (or if brainstorming doesn’t help), it’s an opportunity to discuss what’s the best fit for the client’s needs, such as counseling or coaching.

That said, in cases where clients’ issues are in the coaching realm, facilitating awareness around transferrable skills and/or behaviors from past successes to the present can help create that sense of knew normal. Drawing on the familiar facilitates normalizing during uncertain times and can reduce anxiety. Freeing up of fear can bring lightness and perspective shifts with clarity that can help clear paths in forward movement.

Just a play on words—such as knew normal­—can lighten one’s perspective and decrease anxiety. As a Certified Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistics Programming, I’m familiar with the power of words. Mindful use of language is a fabulous tool in facilitating awareness as well as shifts from unresourceful thinking.

Did you notice that I haven’t made reference to the virus by its assigned name? I’ve referred to it for what it is: a virus that created a global pandemic. Despite managing amounts of exposure to media, that term still surfaces daily with frequency. I’ve heard it enough and since I have no reason to say it, I don’t! If I did, I’d use it—after all, it’s just a word. That said, I choose not to say it!

Helping clients become aware of their options and the power of choices can help them regain a sense of freedom during uncertain times when real or perceived losses of power are felt. As has been the case for me, finding and exercising choice is both anxiety-reducing and empowering. And exploring use (or not) of words that hold a charge for the client can be an integral part of that approach.

I’ve also decreased anxiety through language by flipping a word or term to reframe it. As the pandemic spread in past months, many clients, friends and colleagues understandably shared feeling anxious as a result of being in “lockdowns.”

Hearing that term made me feel tense, so I chose to flip it to the opposite; I’ve been calling them “free ups!” As a coach, that reframe prompts some awareness creating questions: What is this time in life “freeing up” within you? Who are you being “freed up” to be? How might this “free up” time be a gift?

As coaches, we can help clients adjust to a “knew normal” by shining a light on past wisdom for leveraging as well as on available options (including word choice.)  These approaches help facilitate “freeing up” of fear and, thereby, optimizing forward movement. Coaches around the world have the power to facilitate enlightened and empowered perspectives, creating a global spread of awareness and shifts within individuals and organizations. Who knew that could be part of the new normal!?


Copyright © 2020 Carolyn Hamilton-Kuby

Carolyn Hamilton-Kuby, CEC, PCC

Carolyn Hamilton-Kuby, CEC, PCC, owner of Morningstar Centre For Engagement, is an executive coach, corporate trainer, spiritual director and public speaker who specializes in leadership and professional coach development. She is a member of the WBECS Coach Facilitator Team, an ICF Mentor Coach and a thought leader on coaching competencies. Carolyn invites you to visit her website or connect with her on LinkedIn.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

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