Generally, when one learns what constitutes key coaching skills there is no major surprise as the concepts seem simple – questioning, listening, clarifying, acknowledging, validating etc. Even as one goes deeper such as empowering questions and intuitive listening, people will still offer a nod of understanding as to what these mean. However execution of these skills does not come as natural and why is that?
The main reason is that effective execution of these simple concepts is counter intuitive to how we are brought up. Although well intentioned, the guidance provided by parents, teachers and bosses, tended to be more directing while coaching is much more facilitative. The secret and essence of “doing” good coaching is to be patient with the process and desired outcome.
If somebody comes to us with a question we feel that the appropriate response is to answer it. However what if you thought about questioning them (appropriately) a little more or gaining some clarification? Very often, in the honorable pursuit of helping somebody, we offer an answer that may not be right for them.
People who are good listeners also refrain from making the conversation about then. Again, a natural tendency is to hear what somebody says and relate it back to what this means for you. This is called subjective listening and while most might think it being empathetic, in reality you are shifting the focus of the conversation from them to you – not good!
Whether you are coaching clients or individuals within an organization, a directive approach will simply not work. That is why adapting a strategy where the individual feels listened to, is being questioned in a non judgmental way, is being acknowledged and validated, works far better. This is how you engage somebody, this is how you get them to accept responsibility and ultimately this is how you get them to act appropriately.
Coaching skills, once clearly understood require practice and more practice. These skills are behavioral based and can be mastered in a very authentic way.