Easter weekend was wonderful for many reasons, amongst which was the chance to get down to the allotment, attend a seriously exciting football match, enjoy some free time and socialise with friends. Two friends came for lunch on Good Friday, one of whom is, like me, a coach. We got talking about the secrets of our relationships’ success, and whilst I can’t of course divulge those secrets, I can tell you that we had a laugh – with our respective other halves – about how they respond to us when we go into “coaching” mode.
Now – this may well beg the question for you of “What exactly is coaching?” – so let’s get that question out of the way first, starting with what coaching is not.
Coaching is not “therapy”, “counselling” or “a nice chat”. It’s not “touchy-feely”. It’s not a relationship where one person has all the power and acts as some kind of guru, telling the other what to do. No. So what is it about?
Coaching is about change. It’s a relationship of equals where two people are working together on one person’s change agenda. The coach’s job is to keep the agenda on track, and help their client decide which issue to focus on first (eg “I’d like to work out what to do with the rest of my professional life”) and then get an objective for each coaching discussion related to that issue (eg “Today I’d like to identify which bits of my current role I get most out of and why and then to explore what other things are out there that include them).
Coaching is about starting with a goal and ending with a plan, and the coach’s role is to ask questions, listen, reflect and summarise what they’re hearing, and in doing so really help the client’s thought process and action planning.
We call coaching “tough love” because you need to develop a good relationship, fast, with your client. But you also need to do a little bit of feedback and challenge when appropriate and use a variety of techniques to help them move forward when they’re stuck (not by telling them what to do, by the way).
Coaching is tiring for the client because it’s so intense but it’s also hugely rewarding for them because it gets them into a different place. It’s hugely rewarding for the coach because they get to see the client putting things into action immediately and hearing about the results at subsequent sessions.
And you may be wondering – how do our other halves respond when we try and coach them? Well it depends on whether or not that’s what they want! In a personal relationship sometimes you just want the other person to listen; or you want their advice; or to sympathise with you. My husband does sometimes want a bit of coaching – but on his terms only. He doesn’t like it when I attempt to go surreptitiously into coaching mode and will call me out on it. My friend’s partner never wants him to do it. Ever! Fair enough. Our intentions are good but the effect is not, so we know not to coach unless explicitly asked to do so. Thankfully we both have clients who want us to coach them and where we can exercise our coaching skills.
Over the next couple of months, my blog is going to focus on coaching, going into more depth about the skills and processes that a coach will routinely use, and using case studies to illustrate each of them. And thankfully I’ve got sufficient coaching opportunities coming up that I won’t blow a gasket by trying to coach surreptitiously!
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about the author
Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.