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Emotion Coaching and lying: a case study

Updated: Apr 27, 2022

Emotion Coaching can help with complex situations, such as the following example when a mum found herself mediating between a father and son.

Dad was very cross when he discovered his son had lied about a job he was supposed to do.

Mum noted her own feelings, she recognised she was nervous and on edge, and wanted to defuse the situation.

She observed her son and thought he might be feeling shame and fear about being found out for lying.

So the first thing Mum did was to model empathising with the child's feelings: ‘Are you feeling guilty that you lied to your dad, and also a bit worried what the consequences might be?’

This meant that Dad had to listen to his son identify his emotions.

Mum then invited Dad to share that he was feeling cross - reframing his ‘blame’ language’ to actually identify and share the feelings underneath: ‘So you are feeling very disappointed…?’

The important thing about these steps was to model for Dad how to elicit and respond to his son’s emotions, rather than rushing to talk about the lying. Simultaneously, these steps showed the child how Dad was feeling.

The child was able to identify his emotions and then, without further prompting, he went on to explain why he had lied.

The positive outcome of this interaction - modelling Emotion Coaching steps one and two - showed Dad that his son is more likely to engage once his own emotions were addressed.

This also enabled the son to see how Dad was feeling, rather than focus on the possible consequences for his lying.

A very skilled mediation and a useful spotlight highlighting that Emotion Coaching supports an initial focus on the emotions people might be feeling in challenging situations rather than looking to apportion blame for behaviour. This helps to calm down an emotionally charged situation.

Furthermore, this example clearly shows how Emotion Coaching can be used with more than one person and with people of all ages!

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