Empowering Conversations

Philia @ 12min.me

14 September 2017 , , Philia

A little while ago, we had the great pleasure to give a talk at 12min.me on “Empowering Conversations”, which is one of the key aspects of the Philia Peer Coaching method. Unfortunately, there is no recording of the talk, but here you can read the most decisive parts of Tanja’s talk on the topic:

Apart from being a co-founder at Philia, I am currently writing my PhD at Cambridge University. I’m based at the psychology department. A few years ago, our department has been a pioneer in big data analysis related to social media.

They developed a personality quiz that people would complete via Facebook and then the results were linked to their Facebook likes. In total, more than 6 million people took part in the study. As a result, the research team got very good insights about the correlations between Facebook likes and personality traits. The research project stopped at that point, but the same technique has been used in advertising ever since.

So let’s take the character trait “risk aversion” or “risk loving”: An insurance can, for example, use an advert with a mountain exhibition and the title “We’re there for you on all your adventures” for a person who is risk loving and for a risk averse person a photo of a family and the title “Wouldn’t you want to protect them in the best way possible?”. Now add to that a slogan that creates emotional stress such as “buy our insurance package within the next 10 minutes” and you’ve probably converted your next customer.

Now I would like to turn to an entirely different topic. A couple of years ago, I had some issues around eating disorders and depression. It was a rather overwhelming period of my life. And those of you who have ever suffered from a mental health issue will know that it’s hard to see a linear way out of these problems.

Luckily, I had a very capable psychotherapist. She was a bit grandma-like, but extremely knowledgeable and experienced, She essentially helped me explore the reasons for my disease and step by step overcome the issue.

So in each of these examples, there was one party who was way more informed and aware of the situation than the other party. In the marketing example, the customer was the one who had less information and was put under pressure to buy. In the psychotherapy example, I was the one who couldn’t make sense of her own situation. In both cases, the other party had a much higher level of what is actually going on. The marketer and the psychologist essentially had a bird’s eye perspective and more information.

In both cases, the more aware or more informed party had a reasonable power to influence the less informed person. But the difference between the two is that the marketer used his power to manipulate the customer, whereas the psychologist helped me to find my own way out of my struggles and hence empowered me.

In the sum, the low awareness state means that the situation owns you and you react instead of acting. You lack information and you feel stressed. The high awareness state means that you feel in charge, you have a good overview of the situation, you’re relaxed and you are acting proactively. If you’re the manipulative type, you focus on competition, you patronise others and you act polarising. Whereas if you’re the empowering type, you are focused on cooperation, trust and unity.

When you practice our peer coaching method, you take on 2 different roles. On the one hand, you are the coachee. That means every single week you reflect on your goals, values and barriers. That helps you to raise your awareness about your role in life.

At the same time, you also become a coach for somebody else. In that role, you have the power to either manipulate the other person or to empower them. At Philia, we teach women how to help other women to become the best versions of themselves. And that’s what we mean by empowering conversations.

I would like to end with a quote. “True empowerment means to support people in their own approach of solving their problems.” That is the kind of empowerment that we stand for.

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