Permission Granted. Decision-Making with Consent

Consent – the simple act of giving permission for something to happen – is something I’ve been giving more attention to, especially since September. Thanks to the incredible insights from David Lowe and Linda Spencer in our new “The Art of Professional Coaching: Unlocking Human Potential in Business” program. 

I’m approaching the program’s final stages and will be sharing a series of posts about how this experience has reshaped my personal and professional life.

Whether we realise it or not, the concept of consent permeates every facet of our lives. At home, work and more generally in our interactions with others. It has a profound impact on how we collaborate and communicate with each other. 

Reflecting on the ICF core competencies, I realised that although ‘consent’ isn’t directly mentioned, it’s fundamental to fostering ethical and trustful relationships. It’s essential for co-creation and sparking meaningful conversations. From building partnerships with clients, leading change within teams, to something as personal as negotiating bedtime routines with my 3-year-old daughter, consent is pivotal. Without consent, our relationships and efforts can quickly become misaligned.

Taking a more explicit approach to seeking consent has transformed my interactions, encouraging a more mindful way of communication which has enhanced relationships.

At home

I’ve been guilty of making decisions for my daughter without seeking her input first.  I’ve learned to recognise her as an individual with her own preferences. Adopting a consent-focused approach has improved our relationship through enhanced communication. It feels different – it’s hard to pinpoint exactly – but it’s like I’m not just speaking for her anymore. For example I’m experimenting with asking questions about choices instead of mandating them:

Would you like to eat broccoli or cauliflower?

Can I share with your childminder about x?

Would you like to have a bath before or after dinner?

At work

Involving clients in the decision-making process is crucial. Since attending the course, I’ve made a conscious effort to ensure consent is a key part of our meetings. This means actively seeking my clients’ agreement before moving forward in the meeting, ensuring everyone is on the same page. 

An example of this is during a discovery meeting, where I paused to ask, “Are you ready to explore the next steps, or is there another direction you’d like to take?” 

This approach has deepened the value and impact of our collaborations, showing that readiness to proceed isn’t just about agreement. It’s about genuine engagement and shared direction.

Consent is also crucial when working with change. Consent is inherent in The Enterprise Change Pattern which we use with clients, ensuring everyone affected by changes is involved in the design process and has a voice.

This encourages ownership and engagement with the change program and results in less resistance.

What does consent look like to you? I’d love to hear your stories and insights on how consent influences your relationships and decision-making.

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