Coaching for climate change

By Livvy Drake

As someone who has committed my work to addressing the problems of climate and environment because I love nature and people, seeing it unfold faster than predicted is heart-wrenching.

I can see on social media that others are feeling the same helplessness, hopelessness, anger and rage. And exhibiting it in a range of different communication styles from; sharing the stats and facts, pictures comparing 1976 heatwave to now and also some ‘Wake up and smell the burning grass, we told you so approaches’.

Before I put anything down on screen I referred back to a recent reference book I have bought from the the brilliant climate change coaches.

This new book: Climate Change Coaching – the power of connection to create climate action is designed to be a desk-top companion for sustainability professionals, campaigners and coaches, in how to engage other people and support themselves as we navigate the impacts and realities of climate action and inaction around us.

Making sense of other people´s reactions

The book helps to make sense of the denial, ‘head in the sand’ and references to 1976 heatwaves that has been observed when the UK’s temperatures broke all known records.

When our systems are threatened, people often experience reactance. They may try to defend the status quo and resist the possibility of change or deny the problem altogether by dismissing it and blaming the messenger

We need to focus on the solutions, not the problem. While threat and fear are debilitating, solutions can foster a sense of efficacy, empowerment and hope especially when it is in connection with other people

Why empowering people trumps scaring people

It can be tempting, and I know I have done it, to think that shocking people with stats and facts and horrific images will spur them into action. But psychology shows that in fact it can have the opposite effect, as highlighted by the Climate Coaches.

Knowledge of climate change is not enough, people need to feel they can make a difference.

The lens of scarcity (lack of time, knowledge) is making people fearful that they will make the wrong decision rather than trying things out and making mistakes.

Disempowered and overwhelmed people don’t feel they can act to make a difference.

Empowered people take action, feel good and tell others how good it feels

Connecting into people’s values to find common ground will lead to change, rather than sharing the things that you value.

Climate change is not just about polar bears and forests. It is a human problem and we have the human tools of psychology to approach it.

And there are more pearls of wisdom

The above is just some extracts from the first few pages and a talk I attended. The book also contains practical tools for:

Sure reading a book isn’t going to cool the heat or change Governments’ inaction. But it can help to address how we respond and how we engage with others. And after all the key is that the old ways haven’t worked, so we need to try something different.

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