There is now a suggestion that in time we will all wear built-in recorders so that we copy and keep all the conversations we have. This, it is hoped, will avoid ‘you-said’ / ‘I-said’ disputes, the basis of much wrangling. You may hate the idea but it has advantages even though it seems to dismiss trust completely. But how much trust is left in our society anyway?
The idea is of interest to any mentor because we know that a substantial part of what we and our clients say is missed or mi-construed. So, right from the beginning we have always recorded client Sessions, completely openly, and offered the client a copy of the recording afterwards. Many of our clients like to have their recordings, listen to them and pay attention to what we – and, more importantly, they – have been saying. The only Sessions we do not record are purely social ones or if a client were to ask us not to. In 27 years no client has ever asked that we don’t record a mentoring or coaching Session.
For us it is not a matter of trust but one of nuance. What you say is important but the context in which you say it is even more of a guide to what it means. In a mentoring and coaching system where we encourage the client to steer the conversation (rather than simply sticking to a fixed agenda) it is useful to recapture how a conversation got to where it did – and why. This is especially helpful when preparing for the next Session.
Listening to a conversation after a Session, a mentor / coach can detect agendas behind what is being said and can spot potential problems the client may be reluctant to raise. Thus the basis for the next Session can be a mixture of continuity of where the discussion and exercises were going plus an infusion of new ideas to ginger up the client’s creativity and inventiveness. Both contribute to successful mentoring and coaching in our experience.
It may seem that to have to listen to 90-minutes of a Session all over again is exceptionally tedious – even fastidious. It does, after all, take another 90-minutes – a little less if speeded up. In practice we find that we can be doing other things in that 90-minutes as well as listening to the recording. It is also possible during the original Session to note the recorder’s counter at points that are obviously important so that they can be quickly found.
I don’t think we want all our conversations recorded, although it may come to that one day. However, business meetings and formal conversations about agreements are usefully copied to avoid misunderstandings whether inadvertent or deliberate. In a time of short attention-span and mobile phone interruptions, being able to play back what was said can be a significant advantage.
Finally, cross-fertilisation of ideas is well supported by recordings of what has gone on. Mentors and coaches are quick to say that we are learning, all the time. Our trained ability to relate one circumstance to another enables us to spot a situation with one client that may have relevance to another client. Using what we learn does not involve any risk to confidentiality. Only we and the client have the actual recordings.
Being able to look back and see exactly what was said is a huge advantage and makes our Sessions doubly worthwhile.
Go on, record it. What you have to say may be immortal.