Are there things you say when in ‘coaching mode’ and different things you say when in a ‘normal’ conversation? I experienced an example of this when in one of the regular co-coaching sessions with John. As this was an interesting learning experience, John has agreed to this blog and so be reassured that there is no breach of confidentiality!
I was coaching John as he talked through a dilemma he was wrestling with. I won’t go into the specifics of his dilemma, but early on, as John described his situation, the decision he needed make became clear to me. There was only one possible outcome, and as this became obvious, I smiled to myself. However, being a coach, I decided that it was inappropriate to say what I thought. All the rules of non-directive coaching and my training came to my mind; don’t influence and don’t offer solutions (after all this was my solution, and not the coachee’s), and John has all the resources needed to solve this problem for himself. So I kept my opinion to myself and continued in coaching mode. After some time John found his own solution, saying that the coaching session had been useful as there was clarity on the decision, and John had a commitment to act. However his decision just happened to be exactly what I thought he should do twenty minutes earlier.
With the co-coaching session ended, we relaxed into ‘normal’ conversation. As we did, I said, “Dropping out of coaching mode, it’s a no brainer John, it was very clear what you should do.” I remember thinking that as the coaching was over and John had found his solution, I can speak my mind. We both smiled and continued to chat and catch up on each other’s news.
A couple of weeks later, when I met John again he reflected on our discussion, saying that the most useful part of the conversation was when I said, “It’s a no brainer John.” This surprised me as this was a throw away comment that I nearly did not say as it broke all the rules.
With this feedback, I’ve reflected on the Challenging Coaching principle of speak your truth detailed in chapter 3. Speaking your truth relates to thoughts and feelings that a coach has that, with authenticity and congruence, should be spoken in service of the coachee and the system. When a coach speaks their truth, they remain in touch with emotions, using intuition to support direct and honest communication. It is as if they are aware of an internal compass pointing to their truth.
I wonder what would have been the benefit of speaking my truth about John’s dilemma early on in our co-coaching session. Possible advantages include affirmation of the coachee, accelerating progress, enabling space for deeper exploration of the thoughts and feelings. Possible disadvantages include leading the coachee, imposing views of the coach, and transference – redirecting of coach’s feeling on to the coachee.
With robust coachees who are used to speaking their mind, and on the basis of a relationship of equals, maybe there is need to speak more and not be concerned about the rules.