A recent graduate, Anna, is looking for a graduate position of a well- established company and an opportunity not to be missed to get into the final round of a group assessment session.  In view of the competitions from other candidates, a stressed Anna was eager to express herself and demonstrated her leadership qualities.  She saw the behavior of this other candidate as aggressive and posed a threat to her.  Anna seemed to regret as she reflected that she might have been over-reacted to this candidate and her reactions were seen as too dominant from the group.  She felt that this might affect her performance in the group assessment and may partly contributed to the failure to get the job offer. Anna is seeking the help of a coach to review her situation.   

The coach will collaborate with Anna and work out a case conceptualization of Anna’s present issues and where she want to be.  Both Anna and the coach agreed that one of the explanations for Anna’s over-reaction could have been an “auto-pilot” response. Her thoughts and actions seemed like an automatic software program in her unconscious mind. The other candidate in the group assessment posed a threat and triggered an emotional response from Anna. Anna turned on her autopilot response which is “reactive” instead of being ” interactive. “.

Anna was asked to keep a record of her habitual auto-pilot responses to a number of the significant triggers in three different domains in her life, namely at home, at university/ workplace, and social situations. The subsequent coaching sessions will help Anna to discover her habitual auto-pilot response patterns to triggers.  Understanding thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations are inter-related, Anna and the coach worked out the factors and the maintenance cycle of her auto-pilot behaviour.  The coach also helped Anna to identify some of her thoughts, feelings and behaviour patterns that may not be helpful to her. Then, the coach will identify the factors that maintaining the solution cycle.

Anna’s is hoping to be less reactive and develop more emotional balance to external events and circumstances.  She would like to be more attentive and focus, more awareness of factual information and experience more fully.  She wanted to be a good listener, curious, calm and analytical. The ultimate meaning and purpose of Anna’s objectives to achieve internal growth.

Anna and the coach together explored the strategies of changing unhelpful auto-pilot reactivity.  One strategy is the ability to be more mindfully aware of things around her which plays a significant role in reorganizing her thoughts.  She will notice and pay attention to specific events where she seemed to go on auto-pilot.  She will notice her judgements in particular notice how she judge about herself and others.  Whenever she met some triggers, she will stop her auto-pilot and set herself some space for a moment before reacting.  Anna will set her intention at the same time and she will ask the question, “What is my ultimate aim ? “, “What do I want to achieve ?”, “ What is my priority here ? “   Based on setting the goal of reaching a win-win situation, Anna will be able to make a wiser choice. Anna will be  be able to choose how she wanted to interact with her situation.  She may choose to behave differently.

Another strategy is Anna will have more mindful attention to how her body feels.  The auto-pilot mode is often associated with feelings of frustration, anxiety and anger.  She will be aware of her own feelings and body sensations without being caught in the emotions. Anna will also pay attention to the non-verbal feedback she is getting from others.   It takes time and through practice that she can turn off her auto-pilot responses and be more able to manage her reactivity to her responses.

Anna and the coach together worked out an action plan and how Anna is going to implement her plan. The subsequent coaching sessions will be monitoring the plan and have reflections on the effectiveness on her plan.


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