Have you ever wondered what it is that makes people decide and choose in so many different ways? That one simple thing that makes one-person smile might just be the exact thing that brings another to tears. Human behavior is one of those intriguing and fluid spaces. We are all such simple yet complex humans and as much as our backgrounds, cultures and past experiences differ, there’s an incredibly similar thread line that runs through each of us.

In American culture, ‘spilling tea’ is a slang term used to reference the latest, juiciest gossip, the innermost details of someone’s private life. It’s that unexpected piece of knowledge that slipped out of the secret keeper’s mouth unintentionally…or far too often intentionally without the others consent. It’s that little detail that got left out of the big story that completely changes everything.

That one simple piece.

‘Tea’ too is often the details people covet. Those things they keep hidden away from public view, the part of their lives they don’t want exposed. Spilling tea is what happens when friends gather and indulge in other people’s innermost worlds, without consent. And with a wink and a nod, you too could join those coveted conversations, learning all the things that were meant to stay hidden yet easily become exposed. What is it about this tea that has us all intrigued?

Whether with friends, colleagues or as coaches, TEA is that inner space that we believe is hidden. That inside stuff we keep tucked so far away we believe no one will find it. Maybe we tuck it away to protect ourselves or maybe it’s to protect others yet overtime, we normalize that we’ve hidden something and we believe we’re safe. What we fail to realize is that the ‘hidden’ details always seem to seep out of the edges and make their way into the known world.

As coaches, TEA is our fluent language. Maybe not the edgy, gossipy kind of tea but a more mature, educated kind of TEA. Allow me to indulge you. For me, TEA is an acronym for Thought, Emotion and Action. As our clients cycle through their story, TEA is spilling everywhere. And with each and every client the pattern becomes apparent. As clients consciously or unconsciously begin sharing their story, their TEA emerges.

Clients share their innermost thoughts and it’s those thoughts that create and provoke their emotions. In return those emotions create an action and/or an end result that either serve clients, or most often do not serve clients. That powerful trifecta of thought, emotion and action is the similar thread line that runs through each and every one of us, regardless of our ever so diverse backgrounds. Whether we believe we’re hiding the details and/or masking our truth, trained coach will see your TEA from the world it creates around you. The details of our lives, even the most intimate ones, are evident from the realities we live in.

Spilling TEA, or should I say assessing TEA is a tool each of us can use, not only coaches. Next time you’re coaching a client, parenting a child, speaking to a partner or maybe just listening to a friend speak, listen for the TEA. Listen to the words they use (Thoughts). Most people have normalized the stories they tell themselves. Challenge their story. Listen for the


Emotions that those words provoke. Help them unpack and possibly release the emotion behind those words and free up that old story. And then watch and witness the results (the Actions) that the new powerful combination creates for them.

All too often we as coaches, parents and spouses try to ‘change’ or ‘fix’ the end result for people without fully understanding the precise engineering it took to get them there. Challenge their story. Hold space while they unpack the emotions around it. Attempting to change that end result (action) without editing the first two is kind of like trying to unbake a cake. Once a cake is made, there’s no unmaking it, you simply have to start again. It’s similar to missing one ingredient in a cake and then wondering why the cake tastes so weird. Substituting a cup of salt for a cup of sugar makes a completely different outcome, and might I add an inedible cake. Stay conscious of the TEA your clients are creating their lives with. It’s that level of consciousness that creates the ideal outcomes and the new, desired results clients are seeking.

What if you had a superpower that allowed you to understand all the people around you? Ok wait, maybe not all of them because that might be terrifying. Yet imagine that you had a superpower that allowed you to understand a bit more of their world. It provided you the space to understand their actions. Especially for coaches, imagine how much more effective we could become if we simply understood more about what our clients were processing. This superpower provides you a lens that creates clarity in the previously blurry world.

As we start to understand that actions are provoked by feelings, and feelings emanate forethoughts, this creates great clarity. Knowing this, we now understand why our words don’t change our clients, their words do. Their words shift their emotions. Listen to them. Challenge them. Hold space while they find new ones. And then create awareness around the Thoughts that serve them, the Emotions those words create and the Actions that are possible once that

TEA is served!

Jodee Gibson, PCC | NLP-MP