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Using Energy Clues to Understand Passion

Jan 12th, 2015 | By | Category: Featured Content, Transformational Coaching

officecoachingwomenWhen trying to coach a person to discover their passion, one key technique is becoming aware of the client’s energy. When we speak our voice tone, volume, emotive content and so forth vary over time. For example, read the following two sentences aloud:

  • “I’m not sure what is causing us to misunderstand each other.”
  • “I am so frustrated with her! Every time we talk it feels like we are hurling grenades at each other.”

The energy in these two sentences is very different. The first is cool and analytic, while second is animated and emotive. The person in the second sentence is talking about something he is passionate about. If he was reporting a chance meeting with a casual acquaintance on the street, you wouldn’t hear this level of emotion. This relationship is important enough to really affect him.

When we talk about our passions, we want others to get it—to understand that this is something we care about, and to know why we care. So consciously or unconsciously, we change the way we talk to communicate that energy. Here are several passion signals illustrated using the example sentences above:

  • Pace. We tend to talk at a different pace (usually faster) when our passion surfaced. For instance, the second sentence above would tend to pour out in a rush of words.
  • Volume. People talk louder when they are excited, softer when they are pensive or touch a place that hurts.
  • Repetition. Bringing up the same word or theme repeatedly can signal passion
  • Tone. Emotions affect the quality of our voice. It might quaver when we are moved, be accompanied by sighs when we are discouraged, or have an edge if we’re angry.
  • Confidence. When we are passionate we tend to express ourselves more directly and with greater confidence in the rightness of our ideas. Notice that the first example sentence is tentative (“I’m not sure…”) while the second is declarative.
  • Word Choice: Emotive Content. When we are passionate, we tend to use hyperbole or inflammatory language—we are “hurling grenades” instead of just talking. We turn to graphic metaphors and analogies to convey the strength of our feelings.

If you are meeting in person, there are also visual cues to look for:

  • Facial Expression. People become animated when they talk about their passions. You’ll see the energy in their expressions of joy or anticipation or grief or anger.
  • Body Language. If you are meeting face to face, you’ll often see a person sit up, become more alert, lean forward in their chair or motion more with their hands when they get into their passions. The energy they feel is expressed in their body position.

To turn these clues into life purpose discoveries, reflect back what you see to the client:

“I noticed that you got really animated when you started talking about the school bus problem. It seems like you hit on something important there—what makes you passionate about that?”

Naming these energy areas as Passions (as in the example above) can help the client unearth where their heart truly lies. The general rule is, follow the energy to identify the passion—the values, dreams and desires that the person cares most deeply about.

Tony Stoltzfus is an author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on this topic can be found in Tony’s book, The Christian Life Coaching Handbook.

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