Deborah Bellen makes it her business to keep hysterics out of the workplace.
“Once I got a call from a client who literally said: “I just left a meeting and I wanted to kill everyone.’ He was spewing with what went wrong and what was wrong with everyone.”
Bellen, 61, has coached a wide range of clients over the past two decades in other states, individuals as well as Fortune 500 companies such as Xerox PARC, Eli Lilly and Pfizer. In 2016 she co-founded the Coaching Collaborative and now is fostering relationships in her own backyard: Sonoma County.
In glasses, black pants and a black turtleneck, Bellen’s pragmatic chic is as sensible as her career paramedics.
“First I let my client vent,” Bellen recalled. “I asked him what happened. Then I asked him what really happened. We saw his judgments, assessments and opinions of other people were at the forefront and what they actually said was in the background.”
Bellen, who offers 911 coaching to established clients, said her client was glad he made the call.
“He told me ‘I could have ended my career but what I did instead was ask for clarification that could advance my career.’”
The business coach also once helped a frantic client who received a notice from the IRS.
“First I had her breathe and then send me a copy,” Bellen explained. “The IRS made a mistake. The client told me she was glad she called because otherwise she wouldn’t have slept or eaten.”
The business coach has many tools for getting others to open up. Sometimes they turn the tables on her. She was once asked “What’s your superpower?” It didn’t take long for Bellen to answer.
“Listening,” she said.
Bellen has learned that her superpower has a positive effect on her clients. They begin to listen to themselves.
“When I’m working with my clients I’m not listening for ‘how to fix it,’ ‘what is the right answer’ or ‘I know what you’re going to say.’ I listen as if I have never heard this conversation before, even if I have. I’ve discovered that when I listen this way most often the client hears the solution in their own speaking…”
Bellen believes that a balanced life is at the core of success; her motto is “accelerating your success and fulfillment.”
“Success can come at great cost,” Bellen explained. “Our bodies don’t distinguish between stress from a breakdown or stress from success. I have worked with many clients who are burned out, successful but... This is where fulfillment comes in. What is the value of success if your well-being or your connection with family and friends is decreased or lost? What is the value of success if you’re not proud of the service your business provides? For me, fulfillment is a key partner to success. Don’t get me wrong. Results are critical, too.”
Bellen said guiding clients to fulfillment sometimes means helping them get out of their own way.
“Having someone committed to your success, asking the right questions, can help you to discover what’s happening,” she said. “Once you crystallize what is happening, then you can make a more informed decision on next actions to take.”