What’s the right thing to say?

To all the men, and all the women I know.

Please read this… I would love and appreciate any response or thoughts, as to what I’m actually meant to say and do, in the following situations.

Last night I went to my local pub, for a drink, with my boyfriend.

Do you need me to tell you what I was drinking? I had a fruit juice with soda water (x 2) and 1 single rum (to celebrate a male friend’s birthday), and I hadn’t drunk any other alcohol in the day.

Within the 2 hours I was there, the following happened:

  • One man I know walked in, came to stand by us (we – 4 of us – we are on bar stools) and leant in saying “Ooo, who smells nice… is it you” and then leant in really close to sniff me. I know this man but we’re not close or friends. I tried a light response of pushing him away and saying “don’t do that, it’s not ok… this is my space, that’s yours”. It didn’t work. He did it at least twice more, and thought it was funny.
  • I accidentally elbowed a man stood very close behind me (the pub was very empty barring 10 ish people). I know him – he’s in the normal/safe category. He joked that I’d assaulted him. I explained I was trying to discreetly nudge the other man (above) to encourage him to move away a bit (my stool was against the wall by this point). He joked to my boyfriend “I get her attention now, because she assaulted me, but I’m going to forgive her because she’s beautiful”. I rolled my eyes and pulled a cringe face to him and turned away. After apologising for assaulting him.
  • 2 men arrived and one I have been previously intimidated by (or you might call it ‘chatted up’ at the bar by – despite disinterest) came over to my boyfriend and leant across me to hug and handshake him, he then put his hands on my shoulders and leant it and kissed my cheek. I don’t even know his name. A male friend noticed my discomfort and offered a reassuring cringe-face.
  • I leant and bent over behind my stool to pick up my coat, and man I know, standing behind us, made a noise and then said “that was nice, will you do it again”. Same man on leaving the bar, stood in front us looking at me and said to my boyfriend “she’s so hot isn’t she”.


Am I not meant to be in the pub, sitting on a bar stool, drinking a rum with 3 friends? Should I leave? be elsewhere?

There are numerous times things like this have happened and there are numerous times I have said “no thank you… go away… leave me alone please… I’m not interested”. I’ve also tried “please don’t do that you’re making me feel very uncomfortable” – but it’s not the right thing.

I’ve also experienced many aggressive responses to mine. Including sometimes physical grabbing, pushing, and once it hurt and I almost fell over. I’ve been shouted at in the street, and out of the window of a white van who proceeded to swerve close to my car because I ignored their group-heckling when we were sat at the traffic lights – after checking that my skirt or top wasn’t giving them a view of me. I’ve been groped whilst working and responded by shouting very loudly at the man, in-front of everyone (bar customers), and I had to leave because that wasn’t appropriate. And the holding of the hips whilst he brushes himself past… too. many. times. to recount.

So why still, as a confident and assertive adult, with super communication skills do I freeze and not know what to do or say? Why does this kind of behaviour reduce me, to feel instantly powerless and incapable.

Do you need to know what I was wearing yesterday? A dress with a med-high neck and length down to below the knee, with trainers.

I am not single. I am not available. Nor have I ever intimated or behaved in such a way with anyone of these people. I was with my partner.

Are people that clueless that they think I would actually like and enjoy that. Or even feel comfortable with it. Or be used to it.

No, I’m not going to appreciate the ‘compliments’ and ‘attention’ that I do not want.

What would you say? and do?

NB – To add a little more context, I have been inappropriately (and very much unwanted) touched by two other men in the same pub. Oh but they were very drunk on those nights. I told my partner and other friends. Two people spoke to one of the men (a friend of my boyfriend) – but it happened again. They were embarrassed, they didn’t mean it, they were too drunk and have stuff going on that they’re stressed about. I now move tables, or leave when they are there, and don’t make eye contact or engage in any conversation with them.


There is no rush

In fact, when you take your time, know that you will actually get there quicker

Take it, because it’s yours!

Soothe your fiery urgency;

Urgency to speak, to be heard, to tell your story

And know that you will be


And that what matters is that you, understand you; your beliefs, your assumptions, your feelings

It doesn’t matter when, or if, I understand them because despite your grasping, breathy, desperate attempts to make sure I validate your experience without judgement (or maybe with)…

You don’t need me to

Because I’ll consistently be,




I’ll matter because I don’t matter

And then you’ll know, and be, and think

Surrounded by easefulness.

My usefulness.

Dylan Dog

You are my favourite of all the animals.

I’ll go two by two, anywhere with you.

Your soft velvet ears, your pink nose with black splodges, and your thick white mane, that offers the softest place in the world to

Pause a little


Do you affect my heart rate, or do I soothe yours?

You still skip like a puppy making your ears flap, but you sleep like it’s your job

To bring peace and tranquility into my life,

especially when you notice that’s exactly what I need.

Where once you brought boundless energy that was rarely spent, and dreams that went on through the forrest.

In 11 years we’ve walked endless miles together, explored many moors, swam in many streams

We’ve picnicked over looking awesome vistas – reflected, contemplated,

We’ve climbed rocks, hills, and mountains – even when we weren’t outside

We know each other without words.

What beautiful simplicity.

I can just tell when you need to run, play and…


And you can just tell when I need your head buried in for a cuddle, or some time with my hands in the softest place in the world.

I’ve always loved watching you make choices when I ask something of you,

And now you’re 11 I can see you making those choices with a bit more rebellion… and yet when I whisper words I know you know, you always sit, wait, stay and

choose to walk by my side.


By sharp rugged blades that tore into me my intuition is now finely tuned

By patience that laid open my very edges for me to inspect

My multiple senses alert me to something and it doesn’t matter that I can’t quite put my finger on it

I don’t need to explain it to myself or to you. I trust, and give myself permission to make judgements

Where my default is open hearted kindness and love – this welcomes in similar and other

I like diversity and I like the challenge of difference … I go towards that kind of discomfort

This, is not that. It’s not discomfort. It is something else

And I have no name for it and would explaining it be helpful for me? or for you?

To understand so you feel better. And so does a name doesn’t matter

How can I possibly be all the things I aspire and try to be for the world

Unless I can truly be compassionate, empathic, and appreciate of


I promise, that I will always have time to listen to you.

F1: The evolution of leadership – developing leaders that are fit for the future

Adam Kingl (@adam_kingl) is Exec Director of Thought Leadership, within Exec Education at London Business School and responsible for “bringing cutting-edge thinking in many formats to a practitioner audience”

Wow – I’ve definitely not heard that job title before!

This session attracted me as I’m currently working with Sheffield Hallam University (go and see them in the exhibition on stand 152) to co-produce a Sheffield Future Leaders post-grad programme, with business across the Sheffield City Region – designed with and for people… to grow and develop future leaders… and the region. I could sit in a quiet room and design the programme on what I ‘think’ future leaders look like, and what I think people need… but instead it’s wholly co-production and a region wide needs analysis. I’m looking forward to some thought leadership… (she cringed). On a serious note, I am interested in any insights from Adam today.

So session 2 for me today an we’re talking about generations again .. why oh why are people so fascinated with different generations? I don’t get it. And i want to hear about ideas re future leaders please…

The slides are titled ‘A New Breed of Employee’ – I wondering if that the case or if employers have just realised that they have to listen now … rather than guess what people need.

Adam says that people aren’t wanting to stay with their employer for a long period of time… our grandparents had 1 job. Our parents might have had a few. Younger professionals are looking to have had 20+ jobs in their career lifetime. Adam has found that the most attractive factor in choosing an employer is development opportunities… giving people early, rich and diverse experiences – builds engagement.

OH! what just happened….  “i’m sure in a coffee shop on the corner of street in Sheffield presents little opportunity for rich and diverse experiences” – we’ll see… ! okay okay so there are strong regional reasons that I’m co-designing a ‘future leaders’ programme for people in Sheffield, however – I wont be starting with a limiting assumption.

Adam asks… what kind of leaders will Generation Y be? What will their focus be? global growth? 11.5% maximise return for shareholders? 11.5% growing the financial growth of the business? 1% entrepreneurial stuff? 33% renewing personal and org purpose? He asks if 1% frightens us? or if its a good thing …. Adam says its the end of quarterly and annual financial forecasts.

I think that all of things will still happen and people will still grow and thrive in business… but they will already know to start with (rather than learning after many years in senior leadership) that people are the most important resources. That how you treat people matters. That if you look after your people they will look after the business. I say that like a humanistic approach it’s a panacea … I’d love to now what you think.

Adam encourages us to exercise irregularity – which bureaucracy prevents and limits…

This feels like an academic lecture, from an engaging speaker. I hope that also means that Adam intends for us to be our own thought leaders. To go away and inquire… and research… and reflect on all of his messages.

[This blog was written live in session at the CIPD Learning and Development Show 2018, Olympia, London on Thursday 26th April. My intention is to capture a faithful summary of the session highlights, but my own bias and views will undoubtedly contribute to the tapestry of this story. Please excuse any typos, and don’t hesitate to join the conversation on Twitter with me @Jo_Coaches and the blog-squad #cipdldshow]


E1: Learning to inspire younger generations entering the workplace

I’ve just had a reflective chat with Mike Shaw (fellow blogsquadder) and Jon Kennard (of Training Journal) – thank you both – I’m adding some thoughts to this blog… these comments and thoughts are in italics:

Take a look at Zoe Jackson’s linkedIn page and read how incredible she is: “multi-award winning entrepreneur” with an MBE award in 2015. She “set up the Living the Dream Performing Arts company at the age of 16 in 2006 to inspire young people” – bloody brilliant… and it goes and grows from there. “Last year Zoe set up a charity, the Dream Foundation to, change the lives of young people at a disadvantage”.

I’m waiting for this session to start and hoping that it’s not going to be another generational generalisation…

And we’re off….

“Today we’re going to talk all about millennials…” Okay then, let’s do that.

I’m wondering if the point is ever about what millennials need and want, OR is it actually about people. 

Zoe is going to share her journey in setting up her business and engaging young people thought the arts to believe in themselves and follow there dreams and thrive! First a video… Zoe wanted to prove what a group of teenagers could do by themselves – at 16 she put on a show to raise money for her performing arts course. They called it ‘Living the Dream’ … she has done amazing things: watch the video here

I love Zoe’s story. This workshop is so far…mostly about that.

Here is the flashmob she organised with 100 young people, in St Pancras NYE 2010. From this, she created her performance arts business – after being asked to come into organisations and teach people at work how to do their own flashmob.

The then 2011 riots … where young people got a bad press. Zoe started her charity The Dream Foundation “I knew how powerful dance could be for young people” … confidence, self-belief, self-esteem. They worked with Young Offenders in custody – on a mentoring and dance programme … they performance for everyone.

Zoe also got involved in Virgin Media Pioneer for young entrepreneurs – Richard Branson has been a huge mentor and support. Mantra “do good, have fun and the business will come”. So that’s what she does.

Now the millennials… who are they? and do they matter?

Millennials in the room – I am one! We are lazy, addicted to technology, and the big one… entitled. They represent 60% of the workforce. We have a responsibility to create an environment they can flourish in. Zoe mentioned Simon Sinek and Start with Why and his talk about millennials. He says that some of things that are holding people back are parenting and school where people are told they are special and can do anything… and then get well done certificates when they don’t come first. Its not the real world and it won’t happen in work. And they loose self-esteem when there isn’t they quick and easy praise.  What millennials need… And organisations have listened to research and given millennials free food and bean-bags – but it didn’t make a difference and they still were happy.

I’m not sure about this.

But wait… we have grown up in a culture where we can see, and access (via social media) positive and successful role models. Young people are using technology – but underneath it all … we are human and still vulnerable. We want it now… the shine perfection and success we see on media, and we want it now… and if we don’t get it quickly we get bored and give-up because it doesn’t happen quick enough. We need to teach them that it sons happen that quickly… and it takes a slower-burn and hard work and determination… and failure.

Zoe talked about an apprenticeship programme they offer for teachers… We create a place where its ok the make mistakes. And fail. And learn from it. To learn direct from the people they aspire to be like and here how they make mistakes too.

Right now, 20% of all leadership roles are held by millennials. By 2020 they will make up 75% of the workforce. So we need to train and support these people…

Zoe has taught senior leadership teams to dance… to street-dance… to get everyone together out of their comfort-zone … and dance-battles in groups. And through this did leadership development and coaching. We saw the video and it looked BRILLIANT!

Another passion of Zoe’s is personal development. 20% of millennials report having depression… she believes we (companies, leaders, employers) should be doing more to support people. For example yoga sessions, mindfulness.
She also thinks we should bring in motivational speakers – like her – to inspire millennials.

Zoe talks about needs in the workplace… a space to work that allows creativity and freedom not sitting at the same desk everyday in the same place – and shows pictures of google offices. Lifestyle perks:

  • casual dresscode
  • telecommuting
  • rewards for fitbit steps
  • less hours in the summer
  • paid day off on your birthday – or lunch with the CEO
  • actual flexible working

Work perks:

  • free breakfast
  • fitness on site – or discount at the gym
  • discounts at local businesses
  • bike to work scheme
  • discount on buying tech
  • away days – trips – socialising

OR ASK THEM … what more could we do to keep you engaged and valued at work OR “feel special rewarded” as Zoe put it.

Are all these needs and suggested perks about what ‘millennials’ want and need about a generation or age? Or are they about the time, and mindset?! And not about age at all. I want to work in difference spaces, and have a (often very conflicting with norm) idea of what work is: bad work, good work and great work… but that’s not about my age. Is it? It’s about what I think and believe about people and the world. Anyone of any age (I imagine) would love a free weekend away with work? OR/AND are we suggesting that employers nd the workplace should be fulfilling our needs – we are on a spectrum here where one end is ‘the circle’. I’m think about how the world of work and organisation want people to be passion about what they do, and about their org – which makes it ’emotional work’ with buy-in and high engagement and fulfilment …. and sometimes working too many hours (emotional exploitation) for the good of the service users/customer/purpose AND then … people expecting their work or employer to fulfil all of their other needs too: food, fitness, leisure, relationships. Is this the future or the balance imbalanced.  

53% of young people are more likely to seek an employer who users the same technology that they do…

Zoe talks about recruitment and recruiting processes requiring experience and skill set that young people are finding it impossible to have – what about taking a risk? This is relative to what the Benchmark Recruit survey and ‘Hard to Fill’ report found in the Sheffield City Region – that expectations of the ‘person spec’ required to even graduates to get roles is not realistically going to align to what they can demonstrate at offer at that stage. Take a chance. Grow people.

Her confidence is infectious and she’s funny too!


[This blog was written live in session at the CIPD Learning and Development Show 2018, Olympia, London on Thursday 26th April. My intention is to capture a faithful summary of the session highlights, but my own bias and views will undoubtedly contribute to the tapestry of this story. Please excuse any typos, and don’t hesitate to join the conversation on Twitter with me @Jo_Coaches and the blog-squad #cipdldshow]


C3: How to become an effective coach for business performance using 5 core questions

Jonathan Hill is the founder and MD of Catalyst PLD Ltd. Find more here.

If you’ve ever read any of my previous bloggage or ever had a conversation with me about coaching (and everything that underpins it) then you’ll know why I’m attending this session. My passion for coaching comes from my beliefs and values about people and the world. I am just as keen for people to experience coaching conditions (particularly those created in a Thinking Environment) as I am for coaching approaches to be accessible to everyone managing someone else. I’m looking forward to listening to Jonathan.

The Five Question Leader – this makes me think about the 1 minute manager and I like the idea that we can be effective and impactful, quickly, if we listen well and ask the right questions. The better the questions, the better the answers, the better the world.

He says the workshop title is more complex than the reality of this session… it’s 5 core questions that will enable us to work less hard, but have more impact…

And now we are up and seeking a partner in the room that we’d like to connect with. It has been 30 seconds before Jonathan rang his tibetan bells… and offers a coaching question What has been the highlight of the show so far? and there person with shiniest shoes goes first… (and the yogi in me loves the bells).

New partner and new question: What’s the cross-roads you’re at? So this one is about decision making… it can be any decision you wish to share from beef or chicken for dinner to leaving the job and buying a yacht. The person with the longest hair goes first.

And again the room is buzzing with conversation and I’m the only quiet person (apart from the listening in the pairs) which is rare.

Now we are sitting again and have some questions to rate from 1 to 7.


How engage and active do you plan to be this afternoon? 7

1=im just digesting lunch

7=Im really engaged in this coaching stuff and

How much risk are you prepared to take? 7

1=i just want to sit here comfy

7=I’m ready to jump into to something new

How much do you can about the experience of your lovely friends?

1=quite frankly my boss asked me to come here

7=its great to be with such fantastic people and I want to ensure others have a great experience

[NB – I always start at 7, but thats just me]

What would you like to get out of this hour together? 

  • top tips to pass onto team members
  • stuff to get buy-in from manager and senior leaders
  • powerful questions to share with my team
  • more better more powerful coaching – as a coach myself

That was a great warm up…

Jonathan talks about 3 Vicious Cycles: The over independent team, disconnect from the real work that have purpose and value, in a state of overwhelm.

Techniques we will practice break these cycles….

Milton Glaser (creator of the the I HEART NYC logo) wrote about 3 types of work that we are doing… Bad work, Good work or Great work – what does that look like?

Bad Work = WOMBATs waste of money bandwidth and time

Good Work = customer satisfaction, delivering to expectations, the job description, what we are paid to do,

c) innovation, planning, spending time and space thinking, inspired work, space for creativity, work that makes a difference… when we are doing great work it evokes emotions – first we’re excited about it, and secondly its quiet fearful to step into a new work space and do things differently to how we’ve always done it.

FOCUS – Ownership of and accountability for great work. good thinking and planning, and knowing where you’re heading

COURAGE – Go toward those difficult convos where you suggest change – we can do this differently

RESILIENCE – see it through, stick at it, keep with the challenge and stay with the discomfort. Let other be learn to be un-comfy and support them to handle that discomfort

Next more coaching… the workshop is designs to encouraging us to be subjective and objective at one time… to be coach and present, and to be listening to and open…

How can you bring more great work into your role? – on three themes Projects, People and Patterns. And think about your own leadership. Your behaviours and whether you are caught i any of those vision cycles. We ask 3 questions:

Question 1: What’s on your mind? – person with the biggest hands goes first

When we’ve finished Jonathan asks… what went well about that? A: we didn’t need to ask anything else. A lot of info, every quickly, from one question, and listening. We don’t need to have the answer. We don’t need to be the subject matter expert. Great for relationship building and gives you insight into the other persons world.

Question 2: What’s the real challenge here for you?

This is the focus question. the structure of this question is really important. It isn’t with emphasis of the ‘real’. It isn’t ‘whats the real challenge’… it bring s the convo away from the thing, to the person. Ownership and focus.

Question 3: AWE = And what else?

Jonathan says this is the best coaching question in the world. The value is quite simply … when we ask, someones first response if rarely their best response or their final answer. It allows us to uncover more layers and insight. It also slows us down and helps is not get pulled into the advice/problem solver.

We now coaching in pairs for 4 minutes using those two questions…. the person with the biggest hands goes first

What was interesting after asking those questions? A: you have consciously not response and jump in. Holding the silence and changing our own behaviour, so that we don’t interrupt. It’s really powerful for the other person. A lot more detail came out, more levels, peeling back to more insight. The actual final answer is quite different from what the initial answer was.

We have just experience a good and powerful coaching conversation is less than 10mins.

We ask question 3 again: And what else? Then review: What did you find? What happened? – something shifted, the answers are far from the initial ones and much better/deeper/insightful. I am listening better.

Question 4: What do you want? – this is a little harder… but the buzz around the room is indicative of how engage everyone is

Question 5: What was the most useful for you?

This is our learning questions… encourage a reflection and closes the learning cycles… encourages ownership and accountability.

And he even finished with appreciation for you coach!

Question from the floor included:

What if someone doesn’t want to speak? A: give them time, space and silence

It feels like there is no action at the end? A: ask question about action/solution – avoid the tell. OR just trust their will be action from the adult you’ve just listen to

Challenges to questions. A: ask about the resistance to the questions, and inquire as to why someone is holding back from the self-directed learning…

Recommended reading is Coaching Habits – focusing on 7 core questions, and changing behaviours

Thank you Jonathan for an excellent workshop session.


[This blog was written live in session at the CIPD Learning and Development Show 2018, Olympia, London on Wednesday 25th April. My intention is to capture a faithful summary of the session highlights, but my own bias and views will undoubtedly contribute to the tapestry of this story. Please excuse any typos, and don’t hesitate to join the conversation on Twitter with me @Jo_Coaches and the blog-squad #cipdldshow]