Coaching in time of Covid-19

Isolation, social distance, fear. Our feelings and personal convictions have been dramatically affected by Covid-19. When most of the conversations both at personal and professional level are around health, stress and emotions, the role of the coach is first of all to listen and empathise.

We asked Daniele Perchiazzi, expert facilitator and coach to share his view about the current situation.

Daniele Perchiazzi is a Senior Facilitator at Training Luxury. Graduated at the Faculty of Architecture at Politecnico di Milano, he’s based in the UK. Daniele has worked his entire career in the luxury industry with significant management experience both in market development and in luxury retail. ICF member, Daniele has a full qualification in DISC and MBTI Practitioner (Oxford Psychology Press) and Licensed NLP Trainer (The Society of Neuro-Linguistic Programming of Richard Bandler).



TL: What inspired you to get into training and coaching?

DP:The passion for developing people’s potential.

This passion is something that I strongly felt when I started to manage teams in my early career in the luxury environment. For me, it quickly became clear that supporting and unlocking potential in my team was giving me higher satisfaction than talking about products.
If I look back twenty years, I see a red thread going all the way to my university days as the theme of regeneration has always fascinated me. Now my focus is on human regeneration in the workplace, keeping in mind the beautiful image of the Phoenix which rises to shine again from its ashes.


TL:What is the most common challenge you see in people you’re working with during the COVID-19 pandemic?


DP:In the last few months, I have observed that people react to this new and threatening situation quite differently.

For example, I see people that take this as an opportunity to explore alternative ways, while others are desperate and struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Some of the latter completely shut down and enter a vicious cycle of stress and panic.
As a Coach, I need to support the person in removing self-beliefs  and explore alternative approaches. It would help the person to find new ways to reinvent personally and professionally.


TL: What is the role of coaching in this specific historical period in your opinion?


DP:The role of coaching in this period is a critical one. More than ever, people are confused and stressed.

Professionals need support in understanding what kind of reality they are facing. The lack of control and clarity over the current situation leads some professionals to a sense of panic and discouragement. Unfortunately, this can drive to a sort of paralysis and make it harder to work towards an action plan.
Therefore, our role as coaches is to unlock the potential of the person so that he or she can chose what to change to be more efficient. In this specific moment, this can include the use of personal time and how to nurture relationship by the use of virtual communication tools.


TL: Is there a particular psychology that goes in creating a training program for employees in the luxury sector?


DP: When I work with professionals in the luxury sector, I always have two principles in mind as my compass.

The first principle is to apply elements of experiential learning: we learn better when we live what we learn and the best way to achieve this is by doing something new that will improve our skills through constant repetition.
The second principle is the most challenging: it is to create disruptive content with the intent to shift my client’s perspective to a new level.
In this way they will be able to see the business from a different angle, understanding more in-depth the real cause of their problems: this can lead to better and more effective solutions.


TL:How do you teach people to have empathy and to listen?


DP: I love to describe empathy to my clients with its etymology: em – ‘in’ + pathos – ‘feeling’ translating to “I am within your area of feelings”.

Putting myself in someone else’s shoes requires a lot of work on myself as, only by removing any form of unhelpful beliefs, I can really see a situation through the eyes of somebody else.
It’s not an easy process because together with this approach, I have to keep the right balance and not fall into compassion.
About enhanced listening skills we need to work mainly on two factors: the first one is being aware and reducing the internal and external distractions; the second one (which is key) is the power of intentions. In the words of Stephen Covey ‘listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply’.
The best way to achieve this state is by making oneself vulnerable because only by making oneself exposed to somebody else it is possible to pull down any possible barrier and build trust.


TL: We are overwhelmed by a lot of virtual training these days. What is the difference between your way of delivering training and what most of the other facilitators do?

DP: What I put into my virtual training is all my passion and presence, like if I was together with the delegates in the physical room and not the virtual one.

I love to keep using this approach not only with professionals from different organisations but also with my university students.
Attending webinars or training sessions virtually can be tiring and also boring if the facilitator or the host doesn’t engage powerfully and constantly with the delegates.
Also, during virtual training, I love to apply the key rules of experiential learning which of course need to be mended around the virtual environment.


TL:Hope for the future?

DP: History has taught us that after big crisis humanity has always found resources and options to restart in an even more powerful way.

Being Italian I know that our Renaissance came after the dark ages, and our economic boom came after the disaster of the World Wars.
Looking at this pattern is for me the best hope for the future which should give us the desire to thrive and find new ways of reinventing ourselves as professionals but first of all as human beings.