John Bennett/ September 13, 2020/ Change, Development, Executive Coaching, Leadership, Teaching

Are you paying attention to what’s happening? Through my own work with coaching clients, and with students who are developing a coaching mindset and skillset, I’ve noticed some reflections that, when explored and reframed, can lead to powerful lessons and impactful shifts. Whether you are an experienced, professional coach or a manager-coach, paying attention to your thoughts and reactions has the ultimate potential for new insights and further development.

Below is a chart of some of the thoughts and actions I’ve observed and documented, along with the possible basis for those thoughts and actions. For each, I’m offering some questions to consider as a way to turn an unproductive reflection into a learning opportunity to help develop the confidence and competence of those you are coaching:

As a Coach, If I Think…The Possible Basis for the Thought May Be …What I Could Consider Then…
I don’t know what to say or ask.• Desire to help
• Listening
• Desire to add value
• Inadequacy
• What did the person being coached (PBC) just say or do? 
• What can the PBC do to refocus or reframe their thoughts in this moment?
But, if they would only…• Desire to provide answers/solutions
• Having an insight or perspective the PBC has not recognized for themselves
• What makes my solution best for the PBC? 
• How can I help them identify options for themselves?
Why can’t they see what is going on?• No paying attention
• Ineffective listening
• Lack of awareness of what is happening
• Paying too much attention to details and not seeing a wider perspective
• What can I do to help the PBC to gain a new perspective? 
• Is this the best time to share my feedback or insight? 
I have a solution for them.• Desire to “fix”
• Desire to help
• Desire to avoid discomfort
• Why do I think my answer is better than what the PBC could develop with my help?
• Why am I trying to do the PBC’s work for them? 
• How will giving them my solution help them grow and develop?
• What makes me uncomfortable?
I’m not doing a very good job.• Self-doubt
• Desire to help
• Noticing an area for development
• What prompts me to doubt my skills?
• Am I doing my best?
• What could I have done differently—stopped, started, continued?
I don’t like this client.• Personal values and beliefs
• Desire to have a personal relationship/friendship with the PBC
• Desire to be liked
• Do I need to like the PBC? 
• What about me is showing up in the PBC?
• How is this impacting my ability to work with this person?
• Am I the best coach for this person?
• Would someone else be a better coach for this person?
Can they really make the behavioral changes they need to make?• Coach’s priorities vs the PBC’s priorities
• Questioning PBC’s motivation
• Questioning PBC’s capacity for change
• Am I doing the best I can?
• Is the PBC doing their best?
• What could I help them become aware of that might have a positive impact?
• What progress is the PBC making?
They are so resistant!• Desire for change
• Ability to convenience or persuade
• Impatience
• What is holding them back? 
• What do they need to understand? 
• What is comfortable about the current state? 
• How much are they willing to change?
I’m not an effective coach.• Self-doubt
• Lack of confidence
• A recognized skill gap
• What would the best version of my coaching skills look like in this situation? 
• What risk could I take that might make a positive difference? 
• What are my skill gaps that need to be developed?
Why did I just say that?• Making statements when a question would be more effective
• Making assumptions
Inserting a judgment
• What question could I ask that would help the PBC to discover the answer for themselves?
• How are my values, beliefs and experiences influencing the statements I make and questions I ask?
• How can I help the PBC to explore the topic for themselves?

What are your reflections and observations about your experiences helping others through coaching? What meaning do you make of them? And, what have you done to address them? I’m interested in your thoughts, so please leave your comments.

Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash


© 2020, John L. Bennett. All Rights Reserved.

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