It is all too easy to slip back into my old habit of ‘fault finding’ rather than really delving into the thoughts and feelings of the Driver.
Unravelling the complexities that motivates behaviour is fascinating to me. I really need to understand more from them… Fixing the feeling takes care of the ‘faults’ without a person feeling criticised or feeling resentment towards me.
There is no effort involved in implementation either, because the incentive comes from within. It is certainly more effort to ‘fix a feeling’ rather that just say,
“You are driving too slowly through this crossroads! You have priority – come on!! get a move on! You are doing 13 mph and there is no one around at all!! You can’t keep doing this you know! You have got to sort this out. Come on – I will talk you through it”
I will admit this one took me quite a while!!! To start with I did not mention anything at all about the junction. I began by asking what he liked about his drive so far, and asked specifically about a few things that I knew he had done very well indeed! It turns out that this Driver needed to explain to me (or maybe they needed to hear themselves say) a few things like:- “I need two seconds thinking time!” and – “Oh yes – like it says in the HWC ‘only a fool breaks the two second rule’! [I must admit, I am not used to New Drivers quoting that to me!! ]- “I loved it when I parked up at the side of the road here because I did it differently this time. I planned it backwards… I looked at the raised kerb really far ahead …. hahahhaaaaa yeah! about 2 seconds ahead of me and worked backwards from there. I knew that van was behind me too. That is why the stop was so good and smooth. Everyone could anticipate my actions too! AND my braking was perfect!! “.
A little further into the conversation I heard myself asking, “why do you think they put the road signs that far away from the crossroads or roundabout etc?”
“Oh yeah!’ came the answer “sort of two seconds thinking time! Makes sense!””I like being predictable and I hate it when other people confuse me! I need to plan it ahead of time”It turns out that this particular Driver needed to find his solution. His words. His descriptions. His working out. His phrases and thoughts to fix his fear of unpredictable people at junctions.
That was his feeling – fearful of other drivers pulling out at the last minute. There were many discussions and elaborations during that session. His actions led to a multitude of improvements across the board in things like:
- appropriate approach speed towards and through junctions
- selecting appropriate gear before hazards (including bends and roundabouts)
- looking and planning well ahead
- scanning and being predictable to other road users
I could not unleash the power of that Driver unless he felt comfortable enough to explore and explain what was going on. I am not suggesting that we don’t have exactly the same results with our Drivers by identifying the faults and explaining what to do to correct them… what I am saying is that, in my opinion, I gain so much more by fixing the feelings rather than focusing on the faults.