Unconscious Bias in Coaching
Doing our inner work makes us better coaches! Tune in as Lumia instructor Jen Ammenti shares how to recognize and work with our unconscious biases productively
The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring Lumia Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!
A conversation with Lumia Coaching instructor, Jen Ammenti
Jen Ammenti is a leadership and career coach in both educational and non-profit spaces. She mentors transformational instructional coaches; and consults with and coaches school and district administration in systems change with a lens of equity and inclusion. She also facilitates professional development for coaches-in-training at Lumia.
To learn more about Jen’s coaching practice, you can visit her website at www.theunwoundmind.com.
Unconscious Bias in Coaching
As coaches, we work with clients on some of the most personal aspects of their lives. Along the way, our unconscious biases will - not may - impact how we hear, interpret and are ultimately able to hold space for our clients.
Despite our best intentions, this can sometimes interfere with our ability to make a positive impact. This is why the ICF Code of Ethics repeatedly calls on coaches to gain an understanding of unconscious bias and take proactive steps to dismantle it.
As ethical practitioners, this is the standard we are all held to.
How does unconscious bias impact or limit our ability to take in information and see the world accurately?
It shows up through:
- Assumptions and judgements about other people
- Assigning inaccurate motivations to others that we then make our decisions from
- Drawing conclusions about what other people might want or need
- Making everyday decisions on “autopilot”
- Sifting and sorting information inaccurately. For example: drawing upon past associations and memories rather than evaluating a situation based on what is truly happening in the present moment
In this podcast episode, Jen and Noelle discuss unconscious bias and what it means to be anti-racist. Together they explore:
- Taking the personal journey into exploring our biases, and why it’s especially important for coaches
- Learning how to lift unconscious beliefs into our conscious awareness where we can actually work with them
- Discovering the unique cues we receive from our body or mind that can offer information about where we may be making unconscious judgements
- Resourcing ourselves for this deep inner work, and why it’s important to proceed with self-compassion
Jen’s Tips for Doing the Work
1. Give yourself grace and patience. Working with internal bias can disrupt our sense of who we are, especially as we recall times when we may have done or said things that caused harm - even if unintentionally. Take it slow, and be kind to yourself. We all have biases. Naming and exploring them without shame supports our collective evolution.
2. Learn to get comfortable sitting in discomfort. The discomfort of seeing and acknowledging our biases never really goes away, but we can learn how to be with those feelings in ways that support our growth rather than shut us down.
3. Come home to yourself and the messages of your body. A lump in your throat or a flush in your cheeks can give you important information about where you’re activated, and how you respond under stress. Somatic practices can help you come back to center when you feel activated, defensive, or under threat. This helps you to respond from a conscious place, rather than reacting from your unconscious patterns.
To learn more about somatic practices, explore the blog Embodiment: How to Create More Possibilities with Positive Psychology.
4. If you identify as white, find other white people to engage in anti-racism and unconscious bias work together. Identify people you can vulnerably explore these topics with and do the inner work as a team.
5. Remember: the process of identifying and shifting our unconscious biases is not linear. There is no end point.
Every lesson we learn inherently leads us to the next lesson. We learn something, we practice it, and we put it into action. Inevitably, we encounter something new that shows us another level of our unconscious conditioning. We “hit another knot” so to speak. The process of working through those knots deepens our understanding. Doing this again and again helps us to align with who we want to be, and how we want to show up for others.
Want to Become a Coach?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Jen ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power as a coach, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.