Summit welcomes life coach, John Borland

12 June 2023

At Summit, the personal and professional development of our employees continues to be a key focus and something we strongly advocate.  That’s why we welcomed John Borland to the office to deliver an interactive session to our client delivery teams. John is a highly accredited master coach, author, podcaster and director at Spacious, a development coaching company, committed to empowering people by encouraging them to take ownership of their own thoughts and learn how they can get the best out of themselves.

The four-hour long training session consisted of a number of interactive activities which enabled us to think differently and get to know our own mindset, giving us a greater understanding of who we really are, what gets in our way and how we can get the best out of ourselves.

Key learning outcomes of the session included:

Maps of the World

One learning outcome of the session was to understand ‘maps of the world’ and the power of perspective. To understand our own mindsets and the mindsets of others, John encouraged us to consider an individual’s ‘map of the world’ and how it can influence their perspective on a topic. John explained how everyone’s ‘map of the world’ depends on their life experiences. He gave the example of ‘family’ and how people’s perspective on family can be entirely different because of their world map. For some, the word ‘family’ brings to mind warmth, love and happiness whereas for others the word ‘family’ may bring to mind tension, disagreements and distance, depending on our individual life experiences. It is vital to consider one’s map of the world when communicating at work and how the same message can be interpreted very differently by people, based on their maps. We should never assume people’s perspective on a subject will be the same as our own, as our life experiences differ so greatly.

One Summiteer said “Everyone has a different map from the next person, one person’s map might be happy, while the person beside you might have a sad one. At the start I thought my map was a bit up and down due to recent life events but during the session my mindset changed and I felt different”.

Levels of Listening

Another learning outcome was to know the four levels of listening and how to listen effectively. John coached us on improving our listening skills by remaining aware of how well we are listening, and banishing any intrusive and distractive thoughts that we may have, so we can return to a state of effective listening. To help us appreciate how challenging effective listening is, we split into twos and for one minute, one person spoke about a particular topic whilst the other raised their hand every time they found themself thinking of something else whilst listening to the other speak.

John identified 4 levels of listening – distracted, filtered, attentive and attuned.

One Summiteer said “Following the session, I feel equipped to listen more effectively. I felt I was a good listener when asked and I didn’t need to improve much, but I now realise that in reality, I was more of a half-distracted listener. This means I start to listen, then I get distracted by something else and don’t hear everything that’s being said. To improve I will focus my attention and time on the person to whom I am speaking, and ensure I remain aware of my listening state throughout the conversation”. 

The Drama Triangle  

A further learning outcome was to understand the drama triangle and how to avoid it. The drama triangle is a social model of human interaction, theorised by Stephen B. Karpman. Made up of three roles, the persecutor, the victim and the rescuer, the drama triangle regularly plays a part in human interactions, with people often subconsciously playing the part of one or more of the roles.

The triangle helps to us to consider shifting dynamics in a relationship, by identifying the role we’re playing in an interaction and understanding how we can easily switch from one role to another. Drama triangles are damaging to relationships and often persist over weeks, months and even years. John encouraged Summiteers to avoid the drama triangle by taking ownership of their own thoughts and encouraging others to do the same without lapsing into playing one of the three roles.

One Summiteer said “We have all been in drama triangles before without realising it. John gave us some ideas and tips to try and avoid being in this situation. He said by asking questions like ‘why do you think that?’ or ‘what could you do to change things?’ you’re putting the question back to the person and helping them take ownership of the situation, meaning you don’t get involved in a triangle.”

Another Summiteer said “I feel I get caught up in lots of triangles when I don’t need to or want to be. This tends to be with family and friends so I will try putting forward questions to put ownership back onto the other person”.

Personal Drivers

Another learning outcome of the session was to gain an awareness of your own personal drivers (and those of others). There are 5 key personal drivers which include:

  • Be strong
  • Be perfect
  • Try hard
  • Hurry up
  • Please People

John encouraged us to consider which personality type we thought we were and which personality type we thought our colleagues were.

One Summiteer said “Straight away, I knew I had a ‘please me’ personality. I have always tried to please everybody, be it family, friends etc. that is the type of person I am. I’m always the one who sorts everything out, looks after others and I will continue to do it. It makes me feel good about myself. I felt Try Hard was my weakness as I like to be focused and committed to the task in hand.”

The workshop was enlightening and liberating and many of us went away feeling able to decipher relationships effectively and communicate confidently with an awareness of how others may interpretate the message. At Summit, teamwork is a part of everyday life, therefore taking ownership of our own thoughts and avoiding the drama triangle is essential if we’re going to get the best out of ourselves and others.

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