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Conditions of Satisfaction

Recently, I had a coachee (a coaching client) share with me "that thing you told me about really works!" When queried further, I determined that she was talking about me coaching her to ask for "conditions of satisfaction." My quick definition of conditions of satisfaction (COS) is defined as making agreements with someone(s) else such that you base those agreements on what both you and the other person(s) know will satisfy each other. So what did that mean to my coachee? Let's name her Joy. Joy was entering a new relationship with someone and didn't want it to go the same way her past relationships had progressed, especially since this was someone she knows she can spend the rest of her life with. When I asked Joy if she had thought through what her conditions of satisfaction for being in an intimate relationship would be, she answered, "Wow. I'd never really thought of doing something like that."

Herein is the key; we don't often think that relationships we become involved with work effortlessly with a foundation on which the relationship can grow. A COS is like building a foundation for a home or for a building. We can't imagine not having that structure of support on which an edifice can be built, so what's the difference in creating a structure of support for any relationship, whether it be personal or professional? Determine how the rest of a relationship will go by being honest, thought- FULL, and conscious about what it is that we each require for us to operate from our best way of being. When queried as to what Joy's COS might be, she shared, "Integrity is important to me. Being able to know that decisions we make are based in integrity. Also, having time together and having time apart. I like time to myself to be able to read and explore and create and yet, I also want time when I can share new experiences in a relationship."

As a consequence, Joy began first by determining what and then by asking for conditions of satisfaction from her potential future mate which allowed for a whole new conversation for possibility to open up between them. They now are looking for what's possible out of what each of them will bring to the relationship based on being forthright. Joy said to me, "It allows us to not have to be concerned with having to live through making those mistakes that each of us have already found out about ourselves. Instead we can now get on with finding out more about each other."

Here is an example with another coachee, and I'll name her Chérie, who owns a beautiful home and who has graciously invited her sister to live with her free of charge. Chérie is an executive who has a job that keeps her focused and always "on" when she is working. She and I were on the phone one day, and she shared with me how unhappy she was with what her sister was doing in her home and how it was bothering her. When Chérie would come home, she would find disarray in her once peaceful haven, plus her sister wanted her to be involved with everything that she was doing. This didn't work for Chérie; however, she didn't quite know how to handle the situation and instead had resorted to complaining about it. When I asked what her conditions of satisfaction were with her sister, she didn't quite know what I was talking about. At first she was concerned that it would be too impersonal to set up "rules" as she had first understood what was meant by "conditions of satisfaction" in with talking to her sister about what works, and what doesn't work, for Chérie in her home. It took a few coaching conversations and Chérie observing how she was being with both her sister and herself based on how her sister was operating who, up to the point of discussing it with Chérie, was unaware that her actions were causing dissent in their home. With putting in the thought for what COS she would want, Chérie began to realize that she needed "time out" and along with setting up COS with her sister, came to realize that she could also set up a "safe haven" in her home where she could go for well-needed relaxation and serenity.

Creating conditions of satisfaction is not a complicated theory. Yes, it takes thought and yet they can create a solid and successful foundation for any relationship that you have. Business, personal, friend, family member, co-worker, boss, employee: think about it. What relationships are not working now that if you were to create conditions of satisfaction may work easier?

Next time you notice something that is happening with you and someone else that is not working, consider creating conditions of satisfaction that will work for you and the other person(s) in the situation. As always, this is not the right way to be, nor the only way to be, just another possible way of being that may lead you to a life you love living.

~ Patricia Hirsch, MBA, Master Certified Coach