The following set of questions, revised from those offered many years ago by Gordon and Ronald Lippitt in The Consulting Process In Action, (La Jolla, California: University Associates, 1978, pp. 52-53) provide guidance for the coach and client in the establishment of a consistent and productive coaching process:
(1) How can I legitimize for clients their sharing of pain, problems and sense of failure without also stimulating their sense of hopelessness, victimization or defensiveness?
(2) How can I ask probing questions in a way that is respectful of my client’s legitimate claim to privacy and in a way that will not mobilize disruptive feelings of irritation and hostility toward me?
(3) How can I listen to and encourage the unloading of problems without appearing to accept the client’s own perceptions of the source(s) of the problem – including the client’s projections of blame onto other people and the client’s inaccurate attributions of causation with regard to the exposed problems?
(4) How can I demonstrate expertness and establish my credibility as a potential source of help without creating client dependency and without creating an expectation in my client that I will solve the problem? In other words, how do I avoid taking on ownership for the problem being presented by my client?
(5) How can I explain readiness to work on change without appearing to assume too soon that a lot of change is going to be needed? Is the option of non-change available in this coaching engagement?
(6) How can I bring up and explore questions of compatibility between our interpersonal styles (as coach and client) without sounding too clinical, doubtful or demanding?
(7) How can my relevant experience and training as a leader, member of an organization, and coach be communicated without it sounding like a sales pitch or sounding like an offer to take over ownership of the client’s problem?
(8) How can I be reassuring to my client without being interpreted as saying the problem is minor or can be easily and quickly solved? How can I indicated that I have addressed similar problems myself or with other clients without diminishing the distinctive challenge(s) being faced by my client?
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