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Key Takeaways

  • Curiosity is a crucial factor in managing personal performance and consistency. It eliminates judgment, fosters an understanding of feelings and reactions, and aids in informed decision-making.
  • Communication is key to establishing effective relationships and providing support during difficult times. Resilience is not only about individual capabilities but also the ability to lean on others.
  • Physical exercise can enhance mental abilities and interpersonal activities like negotiation or conflict resolution. Engaging in movement before a stressful situation can help get you in the right headspace. Physical activities can also buffer during difficult conversations, making the situation less intense and more manageable.
  • Worry is productive to an extent but becomes an issue when it interferes with performance. The key is to focus on the present moment (mindfulness). It’s also important to note concerns and strategize ways to manage them, distinguishing between relevant and non-relevant worries.
  • Parents should align their actions with their ultimate goal when engaging in their children’s sports activities. Feedback should be non-judgmental and open-ended to make children feel supported and understood.

Executive Summary:

Hey folks, welcome back to the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with performance coach Valerie Alston. In Part A of this episode, she shared her personal journey, career transition, and insights into resilience training in the military. 

She also explored the psychology of performing under stress, harnessing emotions for high performance, and the role of vulnerability and mindfulness in managing emotions. Valerie has made her book “Confident, Calm and Clutch” available to our community for free! So head on over to her website and grab your copy so you can learn how young athletes can rise above challenges and reach their full potential.  

Today, she talks about a range of different topics. 

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in. 

A Conversation on Emotion Management and Growth Mindset

Aram resumes the conversation by discussing the concept of curiosity with Valerie. He asks why curiosity is critical for managing personal performance and consistency and how Valerie’s growth mindset has benefited her career.

In reply, Valerie highlights that curiosity can help eliminate judgment and foster understanding of one’s feelings and reactions. For instance, being curious about why one feels angry can lead to insights about personal expectations or misunderstandings, which can then inform future decisions or actions.

Alston also highlights that no emotion is inherently good or bad, and the way it’s used matters most. Curiosity, she believes, helps individuals understand and appropriately channel their emotions.

Aram finds resonance in Alston’s approach, suggesting that acknowledging the context of one’s emotions and subsequently making a decision to act is empowering, particularly in the realms of negotiation and influence.

Cultivating Resilience through Connection

Next, the speakers discuss the importance of building a strong support network, especially for athletes, as well as how to cultivate constructive self-talk and manage one’s internal dialogue. Valerie mentions that, as humans, we are social beings and that belonging and connection are vital to our mental health. In this context, communication is crucial in building effective relationships and offering support during challenging times.

Valerie further illustrates how resilient individuals often have a robust support network and that resilience is not just about individual capabilities but also about the ability to lean on others when needed. She further explains that constructive self-talk is focused, confident, and motivating, although it does not necessarily need to be positive all the time. Rather, it should aid in maintaining focus, confidence, and motivation.

Embracing Movement for Mental Agility

Moving on, Nolan asks Valarie to share insights on how physical exercise might enhance our abilities in mental or interpersonal activities like negotiation or conflict resolution. Valerie suggests that humans are designed to move, and our body’s performance can be affected negatively when we remain sedentary for long periods. 

She suggests that burning off some excess energy, perhaps by walking around or even a brief dance, before a stressful situation, like a negotiation, can help put us in the right headspace.

Additionally, Valerie shares that physical activities, like taking a walk or playing catch, can be useful tools to facilitate difficult conversations. Physical activity serves as a buffer, making the situation less intense and easier to manage.

Aram connects this idea to negotiation strategies, suggesting that active involvement in the process, like using a whiteboard or engaging in joint activities, can have physiological benefits.

Valerie then recalls reading about how walking can unlock creativity, which can be valuable in negotiations where brainstorming is needed to find win-win solutions. She asserts that our bodies resonate with movement, and this can often help us be less narrow-minded and more creative.

Aram and Valerie Discuss Coping Strategies for Success-Driven Stress

Aram expresses his concern about the constant pressure to succeed and for everything to be perfect, implying that it’s a source of stress. He then seeks advice on how to free himself from it.

Valerie responds by mentioning that a certain amount of worry is productive and can be helpful in the planning and preparation stages. However, it becomes problematic when it permeates the performance stage. Her approach is to help people redirect their focus to the present moment during the performance – a technique also known as mindfulness.

She recommends Aram to take note of his concerns prior to a performance and strategize ways to manage them. This would involve developing a process to return his focus to the task at hand when worries arise. Valerie suggests that some worries are worth exploring, while others can be dismissed as not relevant.

A Conversation on Parental Support and Mindful Interactions in Children’s Sports

On a similar note, Aram asks Valerie how she would advise parents dealing with young athletes. He asks about the common problems parents encounter and where they can find help.

Valerie advises parents to remember their ultimate goal when engaging with their children’s sports activities and to align their actions accordingly. She mentions that while parents generally mean well, they sometimes take actions that aren’t helpful. One common issue she points out is the car ride home after a game, where parents often want to discuss and critique the game, but children may be too tired or emotionally drained.

Valerie suggests that parents need to evaluate if their actions and emotions are contributing to their child’s success or adding unnecessary pressure. She encourages parents to foster an environment of curiosity and openness, allowing their child to explore their performance without judgment.

Additionally, Valerie suggests that parents frame their feedback as non-judgmental, open-ended questions, enabling their children to feel supported and understood. She adds that children don’t always need their parents to be their coaches and advises parents to be mindful of their role.

Discover, Build, Apply: Valerie’s Three-Step Process for Growth and Development

As for closing thoughts, Valerie introduces a simple but effective process she uses in all her coaching: Discover, Build, Apply. She encourages people to approach growth and development with curiosity, assessing what’s working and what’s not. 

When a deficit is identified, she urges individuals to seek help, coaching, or advice to build that area. After practicing and rehearsing, she emphasizes the need to apply what’s learned in real-world situations. She states that being deliberate with this process can facilitate growth and continuous progression.

Thank you for listening!

Transcript

Nolan Martin : Hey everyone, thanks for joining us on the NEGOTIATEx podcast. We are continuing our conversation with Valerie Alston, performance coach. If you haven't already checked out part A of the show, be sure to do that first. Let's jump into the conversation with Val.

Aram Donigian : You know, it, I feel like at the root of what you're talking about too, and just talking about self-awareness is this power of curiosity. Why is getting curious so important to improving one's own consistency in managing our performance? And how has your own pension for learning, how has your own growth mindset benefited you in your career life?

Embracing Curiosity: A Key To Dissolving Emotional Judgment (01:17)

Valerie Alston : I think to the first part of that question, this idea of curiosity, for me, that's what helps eliminate the judgment. You know, if somebody's tuning in somewhere and saying, wow, I'm really angry right now. And often people follow that with a judgment of some kind of, well, I shouldn't be angry or some kind of personal judgment based on what they're feeling or experiencing. And so if you can just be curious instead, it helps remove some of that judgment that causes some of the flawed thinking and issues that we have.

So for instance, if I'm just curious of like, wow, I'm really angry. Why am I angry? What's going on? And I can dig into, well, I'm angry because my teammate did X, Y, Z. Okay, well why does that bother me? Well, I feel that they let me down and that pisses me off that my own teammate doesn't have my back.

Okay, all right. It's good to know. Okay, so I can either choose now, do I go have a conversation with that teammate or is it just, you know what, that's actually just me. That's not something that's my teammate's fault. They made a mistake. That's a thing. Or they didn't do something. But I realize when I think, start digging and being curious, oh, I never actually told 'em that. That's something that matters to me. Okay, well that's on me. That curiosity allows you to dig without judgment, to just get to what's really going on for you.

AD : Yeah.

VA : And from that space, I feel that you can make informed decisions of what to do next or keep doing what you're doing.

AD : Right.

VA : Okay. That’s working. You know what, the anger in this moment is really productive. It's driving me to make a change. Fantastic. Or it's motivating me to, let's say, you know, in a game context or sport context, you made an error, right? Maybe you're really mad and pissed off that you made that error and that anger focuses you, so I'm not going to let that happen again. So you lock in, but some people take the anger to the next level. They're so angry and that they're no longer in the moment. And now they're not performing and now the anger's counterproductive. So there's no such thing as a good or bad emotion. It's how it's being used. And so that curiosity for me is what enables that seeking. Without judgment.

AD : Well, and that ability, I liked what you said by taking a step back and just kind of saying, all right, this is what's going on. That's the context. Now what do I do in this moment? I can imagine that translating to our listeners who listen for like negotiation influence perspective, right? I'm dealing with a really difficult person, somebody who's saying no, whatever. The context is shifting and now the requirements for this deal are different, it just is now. If I can acknowledge that and I see what's happened, my ability to make a decision about how I act is now within my control. That makes me very powerful.

VA : And, I know I didn't answer the personal side of that, so let me [laugh]. For me, you know, I came into the profession as a fresh, straight out of school. You know, I was 24, I got the job, was like, Woohoo, [laugh], I'm getting paid to do something I love [laugh]. And I can tell you I was at 24, I was not as skilled, like reading a room and doing some things. Thankfully due to my program, we have a lot of feedback culture. There's a lot of opportunities to be watched by mentors to get feedback in your teaching, in your interactions. And so thankfully in my professional setting, it's been beaten to me. That's not right. That's not effective [laugh]. it's just been a part of the culture.

And so I've been fortunate in my professional life with the army, that was always present. Now that doesn't mean that the feedback I got or that people were always particularly skilled at giving that feedback, but it was there. I would say though, from the learning perspective, you know, I started a business. I didn't very much learning, how to market. I had to learn web design, I had to figure out how to edit videos. I had to, I was like writing a book like oh my goodness, that's not easy. And so yeah, that's just that being curious of like, okay, that didn't work. What, what's going on [laugh]? How do I fix that or how do I just non-judgmentally assess, right?

AD : Yeah. Well it sounds like curiosity is for you is pretty well paired with that challenge mindset you were talking about earlier. You yourself seem pretty open to challenging yourself and.

VA : Yeah, I like to think so. [laugh] So far I think I'm doing it well. I'm sure there's a moment out there that you could say, Hey, I need to go do brain surgery. Nope, that. But yeah, I have, I do want to try to practice what I preach to the best of my ability. [laugh] makes me a little bit more, more credible.

NM : So now that you discuss the importance of community for athletes, how do you coach others to build what you refer to as a champion support team? And why is communication important to getting this team built correctly?

The Role Of Meaningful Relationships In Shifting Perspectives And Managing Internal Dialogue (05:37)

VA : Yeah, I think we are social beings. We're social creatures. In fact, it's a basic psychological need that we have as humans. We want to feel competent, we want to have autonomy, sense of choice or agency over our life and we need relatedness or a sense of belonging. It's a fundamental need. When we are lacking connection, lacking belonging, we do not function well as humans. There's a lot of research, for instance, behind suicide that that is one of the biggest reasons people tend to complete suicide is that they feel completely isolated by themselves. They have no sense of belonging.

And so the more we can train people that you need people, right? You need people in your corner, one to help you when times are tough. But also there's so much joy, there's so much positive experience from interacting with other human beings. You know, having game night with your friends, going out, competing hard at a sport and being in the middle of a tough game.

As parents, you know, being able to like enjoy your kid's sporting experience or as a parent to a kid. I know for me growing up playing sports, like knowing that my parents were absolutely on board, were helping me as to the best of their ability, wanted what was best for me. That we were able to have open dialogue about my needs, their expectations as parents, it just made it easier. Like I never had to worry that I didn't have that support. And that enables resilience. A lot of people think of resilience as like a solo sport, right? This is me, self-reliance, me having the tools to handle me.

But the research shows as very clear that meaningful relationships is a necessary factor to one's resilience, right? You need to have people you can share experience, rely on for support. And of course for a relationship to be effective you gotta be able to communicate. But you all spend the most time talking about is the communication part of that.

AD : Well, I'm curious too about these meaningful relationships. To what degree do these help us get out of our own heads to have a different perspective, somebody who can gauge. I go back to your initial story about what your father saw that maybe you couldn't because you were in the moment. And one of the things we often talk about with our clients is this idea of managing your internal voice during negotiation. That, you know, not only are you and I having a conversation, but I've got these conversations going on in my head. And so while we're thinking things, while we're in a complex conversation or activity and these can actually be very damaging to what we're trying to accomplish. You talk about the power of self-talk.

I'm curious, what does constructive self-talk look and sound like and how do these meaningful relationships maybe help us get a better conversation going on up here in our brain?

VA : So, the first part of that is what is considered constructive self-talk. It's all about the impact of the words that you're having to yourself. So the way you're talking to yourself, because we're all a little bit different. So there's not like one thing, like phrase that we could use that would work for everybody. We're not, we don't function that way. Everyone's got a little bit different experience, different meaningful things that matter to them. But for me, what counts as constructive self-talk, productive self-talk is something that is helping your focus, right? It's keeping your focus on the right things at the right time. So whether that's a physical, technical, tactical type thing you should be focused on. Or you know, obviously in a sport, are you watching the opponent? Are you doing right? In a negotiation, it's are you paying attention to the person who you're speaking with?

But so it keeps you focused, productive self-talk keeps you confident. So, it's focused more on your capabilities, what's possible for you. It's focused on that opportunity and challenge instead of that doubt, worry, fear. So it's helping you build confidence, it's helping you build motivation. And so it doesn't have to do all three of those things in any one given time. But your self-talk should help you do one of those three things. Be more focused, be more confident, be more motivated, and if it's not, it's probably ineffective. And so that inner voice is vital.

Now this is one of those things again where often the everyday world would say, you just gotta be positive in your thinking. Be positive. There's a time and a place where that's wildly ineffective, right? If you're like, oh this is, it's okay, it's fine, it's fine. Well not if something just really awful happened, right? And you're not acknowledging the reality of, wow, this is a bad thing. I need to adjust or I need to deal with this, right? And so this idea of, in most cases, positivity is probably a good thing. But it can be toxic too. If you're putting on rose-colored glasses and not viewing your circumstances through reality, that's not helpful either. You know, there's a time and a place to have the doubts, the worries and the fears because it helps you prepare. Like that shouldn't be before [laugh]. You know, so if you're going into a negotiation, you should think about, well what am I worried about? What am I scared about? What am I concerned about?

So that you can then in the time between now and the actual conversation, either enact a tool, a skill, do something that you can mitigate those doubts, worry, fears. So, before is always a great time. [laugh] not always, but is the right time to have those doubts, worries, fears. And in that moment that is productive, right? But if you're in the moment of having the conversation, no longer productive, so timing absolutely matters as well.

AD : So obviously you teach people to be able to manage these things by themselves and I would think that having that champion support team can help me do that too. Or maybe provide that different perspective.

VA : Yeah, absolutely. You know, I can say that I've had that in many areas of my life. Thankfully I've had good people around me. But yeah, the value of, and often that's actually what I'm doing in my personal coaching is I am providing that more effective perspective for that self-talk to be more productive. Like helping people see you be like, okay, but why was that a big deal? It's normal to fail, it's normal to miss a shot, it's normal. Why was that a big deal?

So often that perspective from somebody else does help you, can help you reorient your internal self, that dialogue that you're having. It can also be problematic if that person is ineffective, if they are not a good source of perspective. And so that's why part of my book is to really cultivate the right championship support team, making sure you have the people around you that are in fact feeding that effective, optimistic perspective growth mindset perspective, that are in fact supporting your confidence, your focus, your motivation. Because you have somebody on your team that is detrimental to that, that's not helpful either. So yeah, that outside perspective can be really helpful. assuming that person is also productive.

AD : That's right. Yeah. And not just making it all rosy and positive too, right? But actually helping you be in the moment and constructively look at what's going on. Yeah.

NM : As a performance coach, you're obviously an advocate for getting regular exercise. Could you possibly share any thoughts about how physical exercise might have positive implications for a more mental or interpersonal activities such as negotiation? How might these exercises have benefits for us when we're trying to influence others during a disagreement or other form of conflict?

Enhancing Performance Through Physical Engagement And Joint Activities (12:36)

VA : Yeah, I mean, I would not pretend to be an expert on like all the physiological and brain adaptations that happen with. But in anything, everything that I've read and experienced is that we were designed as human beings to move, and to be in motion in different ways. And so often when people are so sedentary, especially people who are more in desk jobs or office jobs, there's just a lot of problems with just not moving your body. Like your body doesn't function well and it's hard to be elite or perform well when your body's out of whack.

So there's that just general health and wellness piece. But as far as like the exercise and how it can relate to performance is often before you're getting into a big moment, you do have nerves, you do have excess energy. And so sometimes the best way to get in the right headspace is to go burn some of that off. So maybe it's taking a walk around the building, maybe it's like, okay, shaking it out, doing a little happy dance or some sort of like 30 second booty shake, you know, before, right.

It has the power to help you kind of burn up or use some of that excess energy, especially if you're a little more on the heightened end of before you walk into a performance moment. Personally, I've also just found that there are many people, especially when having a difficult conversation, a negotiation or a difficult conversation, it's hard to just sit and do that. They're anxious, they're nervous, they need to like let that out in some way. And so sometimes if you can just have that conversation on a walk, right?

Or if you can, I know for me when I was a kid, my dad would just take me outside to play catch. He's like, all right, we need to talk about this. You're being weird. Like let's go [laugh]. So we'd play catch, we had many a deep conversation over a game of catch.

So there's a certain element of that physical activity being a buffer kind of a comfort zone that people can be like, okay, I don't have to just stare at you eye to eye and have this hard conversation. Especially if folks are less comfortable with that eye contact and having to look at you and like, if okay, well take a walk [laugh], or go do something together that you can have that conversation and maybe less.

AD : As you're talking Nolan, for me, what I'm thinking of here is that we so often talk to people about managing process really well. And so, you know, getting up, using a whiteboard, pulling people in and making negotiation influence the conversation. Now as you're talking about, the kind of like this joint activity, and I wonder if the benefit, and I haven't really thought about it, is there's actually a physiological benefit to doing that as well as just good process management benefits, but actually physiologically are we engaging people in a way that actually, you know, helps them show up in a more effective manner.

VA : Yeah, and I don't remember, apologize, I don't remember the research specifically, but I've read something recently that for instance, if you need to unlock creativity specifically and a lot of negotiation is that brainstorming like, okay, what is the right solution that can both parties make a win-win. Walking helps unlock some of that creativity because you're not so overly focused on the act of staring at a whiteboard and trying to put good thoughts up there. Good ideas there.

So, often we can be more creative and less narrow-minded when we are just moving a little bit. Our body seems to resonate with that in some way. I apologize, I don't remember the exact reason they discovered why that was true. But..

AD : I like that. Rather than just staring at each other. Alright, hey listen, we've been talking a lot of concepts. I want to, we give a very specific example, on your website you have this athletic coping skills inventory. I went on and I took it. So Coach Val, I'm coming to you. I'm going to, we're going to imagine for a moment, I'm a young athlete, I'm reaching out to you for help. Here are my scores on your inventory and I hope I'm not going to embarrass myself too much. [laugh] my combined score was a 47 and I can't remember the total was like out of like 84 or something like that.

VA : 84. Yeah.

AD : So that puts me right in the middle. Alright, and here are my other scores; for coping with adversity, I had an 8. I got a 9 for coachability. I got a 10 for concentration. I had a 7 for confidence. And then here's where I really, I excelled. I had a 3 for goal setting and mental preparation and I had 5s for both peak under pressure and freedom from worry. All right, where do we go from here? I need help around my self-awareness. I need some drills. Help me coach, help me.

Aram’s Mock Coaching And The Process For Elevating Conversations And Embracing A Pre-Game Mindset For Optimal Results (17:02)

VA : Yep. The first thing, the good news is you are very strong in a couple areas. So the concentration, the coachability, the coping with adversity. And so for me, if you were in fact coming to me like I would use those strengths to help you overcome that goal setting barrier. And so this idea of like coachability, since you're very high on that and in concentration. I might say, alright, the goal setting part is very problematic, right? [laugh], the weakness there.

And so I would try to pull on what you already do well from a concentration perspective, which you scored a 10 on. Say, okay, how can you concentrate differently before a game to set you up for success or before a big conversation that you have to have or before you go into negotiate. So trying to use something that they are already good at and redirect it to help them overcome the problem.

Now as far as actual drills, you know the definition of the goal setting and mental preparation kind of subscale is this idea that you can assess, do you have specific performance goals? Do you plan and mentally prepare for a game? Are you clearly have a game plan for performing well? And so that score to me, a score of three tells me that I would ask you much more questions but are you prone to winging it when you go into performance moments,

AD : Yes.

VA : [laugh]. Okay. And I would help you move a little bit more towards deliberate and intentionality. So, in most cases there's a time and a place to wing it. Got it. When you didn't have any time to prepare and it's just like, okay, I gotta go with what I know. But when you do have time to prepare and think through the performance moment, I would help you build a plan of, okay, what's my process? How do I, you know, for us in athletics, what's my pregame routine? What do I do that gets me physically, mentally and emotionally ready to play?

And so as a performer, if you're going into a conversation, I would do the same thing. What's your pre-game routine? What are you actually doing before you go have a tough conversation that gets you mentally and emotionally tactically I guess whatever techniques you're going to use, gets you ready to have that conversation effectively. And we would work through what that looks like for you. So do you happen to know what helps you feel ready to have a tough conversation?

AD : Maybe thinking in my head. Two things, maybe one kind of thinking through the conversation in advance and kind of visualizing what it's going to sound like and look like. And the other thing would be really considering what the other person may say and how, what I don't know about them questions I might need to ask. So kind of thinking about what I want to pull out from them.

VA : And so in your experience when you do that, do the conversations go better?

AD : Yes.

VA : Okay. So how could you make sure that you deliberately do that? Like what's your process before you go have a conversation?

AD : I would need to schedule the time to make sure that I'm doing those things right as much as possible. Whether it's 30 minutes or 5 minutes, I guess I just need to make sure that I don't just jump into the conversation. So I feel like some of that's managing when I schedule and start, probably do a better job at those things when the timing of those conversations occurs later in the day versus first thing in the day.

VA : Okay, and so what do you think, it might be conversation dependent, but if you committed to just scheduling a 5 or a 10 minute window to prepare yourself for the conversation, what do you think that would do for you?

AD : I just think I could show up more relaxed with that conversation, yeah. So I do have another question since you're giving me this great coach. The freedom from worry, how do you help that one? Because that team feels like that's come up too. You know, we talked about worry or failure or the trying something new, but just that pressure of gotta succeed, gotta succeed, gotta succeed. This has gotta look right.

The Role of Planning In Worry Management: Empowering Performance With Preparedness (20:37)

VA : That one is tough because there is a certain amount of worry that is productive because thinking through, okay, what could go wrong? How would I deal with that? So there is a certain amount that is in fact productive to help you prepare, to help you train, develop, right, to get ready for the performance moment. Where it becomes problematic again is when you're doing it in the middle of the performance, like while you're performing. And so really usually what I'm helping people do is redirect their focus to what's important right here, right now. Like I am worried and what's most important, this person is talking to me right now, I need to listen.

Okay, [laugh] or you know, for softball or baseball, I'm worried I'm walking into at bat, a pressure at bat that's, you know, runners all and that type of thing. Oh, I'm worried, okay, what's most important? I have to put a good swing on a good pitch. All right, how do I do that? See ball hit ball. Great, okay, get in there. Right? And so some of it is just training a process of when you notice the worry, how do I get back on track to, in the moment because worry is future-focused and again, preparing for something that can be really productive and helpful, but in the moment not so much.

And so to some of the other conversations we've had, I would ask you to, okay, you're getting ready for this performance, what are some of those worries that you're concerned about? And then we would try to tackle them ahead of time so that in the moment you have like a plan, okay, when this worry pops into my head, here's what I'm going to say in my head to get me back on track.

AD : Got It.

VA : Some of them are worth exploring, some of them are like, no, not relevant to the conversation. Ignore it. Go back to track [laugh]. So I would practice that with you, like maybe peppering you with counterproductive thoughts and having you fight back against them or helping you just process that worry before the performance event and helping you alleviate, okay, if that's what you're concerned about, that you're going to bring up this topic and the person's going to go ballistic. Okay, that's a legitimate concern, that's a worry. How can you say things differently and hopefully prevent that? But acknowledging they're a human, they might do that anyway no matter how calm and collected and precise you are with your language, they might still blow up. So what are you do [laugh]? What are you going to do in that moment?

So, often what eliminates worry is having a plan, right? When you feel that you have a plan. And I know you both know this from military experiences, but this is why you have contingency plan, right? When you're going into a battle going into you have contingency plans for okay, if this goes wrong, what are we going to do? If this happens, what are we going to do? And it alleviates some of that worry and fear because you know, you got a plan, I know what to do if that happens. So….

AD : Great advice. Thanks. I feel ready. [laugh] I'm going to put it to practice this afternoon with the situation I've got coming up. Your advice isn't just for athletes, you also advise parents as well. You know, for parents that are listening who want to learn more around the help that you might be able to provide them as they engage with their children in sports, how would you direct them? Where would you direct them to or what advice would you give? Like what are the common problems that parents run into when advising young athletes,

Parenting With Intention: Fostering Resilience And Confidence In Children (23:45)

VA : I think the first thing I would direct them, you know, please go get my book. ‘Confident, Calm, and Clutch’. There is a whole intro section for parents specifically. Some common struggles that parents have. But I think how I typically direct parents is to remember like what's their goal? What is it that, when you go to your child's sporting event, when you're interacting with your child around their sport, what's the goal? What are you actually trying to accomplish?

It's my experience that most parents genuinely want what's best for their kid and they're trying to do that in a way that they think would work. Sometimes they're just choosing actions that aren't actually helpful. So it's usually well-intentioned. So if I can help them redirect that well-intentioned to a more effective action or a more effective response.

You know, a big one is the car ride home after a game, after a tournament. Like many parents well-intentioned want to like process the whole, okay, what'd you do and how'd you? Like, want to help their kid learn. And they're tired, they just spent however many, like they're exhausted. They might have their own emotions they're dealing with. That might not be the moment, right? They're not receptive and in the spot to have that conversation yet. So helping that parent build that self-awareness to what's the overall goal, right? Helping my kid be successful, what am I doing? My own thoughts and emotions that's helping or hindering that? Am I adding more pressure? Am I causing more problems?

And just helping them see, you know, an alternative, right? And so that would be the first step. I'd say check out the book. There's a lot of great advice in there for parents. I am in the process of writing a coaches version of ‘Confident, Calm, and Clutch’, which is designed for coaches of teams, but as parents, I know many of the these coaches out there are also parents, right? And so hopefully that all that can be a great opportunity to more deliberate ways to.

AD : I think that's great feedback. I think it's so difficult being a parent wanting to encourage, not push and knowing the right way to handle that. You know, I'm sure you do to help youth athlete ahead of time during the event and then afterwards you were just saying, right. Knowing kind of how to space out the assistance or support would be important.

VA : Yeah. And I think one of the things I find for most parents is just this idea of hey, just help them be curious, right? How can you help them without judgment, process what happened and doing your best to not have an agenda, right? Because you know a lot of parents will, you know, in that after game car ride, be like, why'd you do that [laugh]? Oh that's a little accused story there. It's like, hey, I saw this happen on the field today, what was going on? Right? Really different approach and there's no judgment there.

And that kid can just kind of talk through what was going on and okay, well it seemed like this, was that happening? Well, you know, so the more open-ended questions, the lack of judgment, the more that your kid feels supported by you and knows that you're there for them, that's really what they need. They don't necessarily always need you to be the coach. So time and place.

NM : Good advice. Thanks.

VA : If you're in fact their coach, okay.

NM : I know that you had also offered to give all the listeners a little something and I know that they can find that at valstoncoaching.com/freebook_negotiatex. We'll be sure to include that link in the comments and on LinkedIn when we post this post. But I just want to say thank you for providing that. I know that goes into a lot of the stuff that you're doing and how you can basically continue these conversations for people who are trying to look to connect with you and learn more about everything that you're doing.

VA : Yeah, absolutely.

NM : So, I wanted to kind of go to the final question here. And that is as we get ready to wrap up, do you have any final thoughts that you'd like to share with our listeners perhaps about the broader application of these skills to living life?

VA : Yeah. Gosh, such a big mantle, [laugh].

NM : No pressure.

AD : No pressure. No pressure.

Discover, Build, Apply: A Process For Growth and Development In Any Endeavor (27:46)

VA : No pressure. It's a child, it's an opportunity. Ok. I would just say that the more people can have a process that I use in all of my coaching is discover, build, apply. And so the more that you can just discover and be curious about what's going on, if there's an area of growth, an area of development that you need to work on, discover, right? Think, talk through it, think through it, assess what's going on, what's working, what's not working. And then if there's a deficit somewhere, build right? Get the coaching you need, get the help you need, get the advice you need for that physical, technical, tactical thing that you need to work on that's preventing you from performing the way you want to.

And then you have to just go apply that. You've practiced it, you've rehearsed it, now go do it, [laugh]. And so, the more deliberate people are with that process, the easier it is to grow and develop and just keep moving forward in a productive direction. So discover, build, apply if you can just do that all the time [laugh].

NM : I love it.

AD : I love it too. That's a great recap and I'll just say thanks so much, Val, for being on the program and thanks for sharing your book with everyone. I hope they will follow the link that Nolan was mentioning and go grab it and take the time to read through what you've put together. So…

VA : Yes, please. Thank you. Absolutely. Thank you for having me.

NM : Thank you Val, so much. And thank you for listening to NEGOTIATEx podcast. If you haven't already, please rate, review and subscribe to the podcast and we'll see you in the next episode.

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