Every discipline has its own mysteries, its own conventions, its own language, known only to those who choose to immerse themselves within: doctors, nutritionists, builders, coaches. While language can serve to allow practitioners in any given field to communicate with each other, it can also bring an air of exclusivity and put others off exploring the possibilities that these specialists can offer: we fear that our lack of understanding will make us look somehow inadequate as we try and engage. Here, then, and in future blogs, we will aim to demystify the language of coaching, and what it all means.
Coaching raises your levels of awareness and responsibility
What is ‘coaching’? We see it as a conversation; a dialogue between ‘the Coach’ and their client, otherwise known as the ‘Coachee’. The aim of coaching is to raise your levels of awareness – awareness about yourself, your strengths and limitations, awareness of others and their feelings, and your levels of responsibility. The conversation that leads to this must be structured and process-driven, built around measurable goals and objectives to achieve positive results. With these improved levels of awareness and responsibility, you will perform better both in the workplace and in your personal life
Private, 1:1 discussions lead to improved awareness
Trust and confidence is at the heart of coaching. To achieve better results in your business or personal life, you need to be prepared to talk frankly with your coach in order to get to the root of what could be holding you back. This may not be what you think it is, and only by talking openly with your coach will the real issues come to the fore. A coach – and coaching – offers you the opportunity to talk in a structured and confidential environment to achieve the improved levels of awareness that are so important for successful relationships – the backbone of your business.
Take the example of a situation where you have to hold a difficult conversation with a colleague. Perhaps they have let you down on a project, or you have to deal with more complex performance issues. Time spent in advance thinking about how your colleague might be feeling, their perception of the situation and therefore how they might react to this discussion will almost certainly allow you to hold the discussion in a way that will lead to the most constructive outcome for both you and your colleague.
This enhanced awareness and understanding of other people and their reactions is one of the most common outcomes of successful coaching, and can result in significantly improved workplace relationships, yet it comes from gaining a greater understanding of your own behaviour and reactions, your skills and personal attributes and your abilities and assumptions.
The benefits of improved awareness
A positive coaching relationship which enhances awareness in this way grows your self-belief and confidence. Raised awareness can be aligned to improved emotional intelligence; you become more aware of their own behaviour and actions and the impact you have on others, which results in more considered interactions with colleagues, customers, friends and family.
Just as improving awareness of your own behaviours and attitudes can bring dramatic change, so does ‘taking responsibility’. In a coaching context, this means truly accepting and taking ownership of your thoughts and actions. It is no one else’s ‘fault’ or ‘responsibility’ – it is yours. And the greater your ownership and responsibility, the greater your commitment to the task or objective will be and the better your performance.
More often than not, individuals take true responsibility when they are given a choice to arrive at their own solutions. Telling someone to be responsible for something doesn’t make them feel responsible for it. Think of a time when you were given a choice as to how you completed a task or project. What impact did having that choice have on your level of ownership and commitment towards completing that task to your best ability?
Achieving awareness and responsibility in this manner is best achieved through a non-directive coaching style.
Non-Directive Coaching to raise awareness and responsibility
Non Directive coaching is the ‘pull’ rather than the ‘push’ style of coaching. Instead of telling you what to do, giving advice, or even making suggestions, the Coach acts like a facilitator to guide your thinking and help you resolve your own challenges. During confidential coaching sessions, your coach will ask you thought provoking questions – questions you will never have thought to ask yourself, or questions you may have avoided answering – and use finely tuned and intuitive listening skills to really get to know you – sometimes better than you know yourself. A skilled coach will then reflect back to you what she hears, sees and feels about you and your situation, in a compassionate, non-judgmental manner, and always with your best interests at heart. Your Coach might sometimes, offer guidance, but only with your permission. The best solutions are always the ones that you arrive at yourself and they are the solutions that you are more likely to put into practice than if someone has told you what to do.
Bringing it all together
This, in a nutshell, is coaching. A confidential dialogue, a structured process through which you come to know yourself better, to take ownership of the situations you find yourself in – be they business or personal – and to reach the solutions that will lead to improved relationships and greater success where you need it. It’s about being the best you can be – and we can help you achieve that!