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Coaching the Person, Not the Problem

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The goal of coaching is to get clients to stop and question the thoughts and behaviors that limit their perspective so they can see a new way forward to achieve their desires. Reflective practices provide an instant replay for clients to observe themselves telling their stories. The questions then help clients identify the beliefs and behavioral patterns they are using. They see for themselves what patterns are ineffective, even damaging. If done with patience and respect, it’s likely your clients will clearly see what they need to do without your brilliant advice.

The use of reflective inquiry as a powerful learning technology has been around for over one hundred years. I’ll explain the origins of reflective inquiry in part I.

Coaching Shouldn’t Be So Hard

Using reflective inquiry with a caring and appreciative presence creates a connection where clients feel safe to critically explore how they think. Clients don’t feel pressured to explore their blocks more deeply; they naturally go deeper. Hearing their own words prompts them to willingly dissect the meaning of their statements. They admit when their words are defensive rationalizations for that doesn’t align with their core values and desires.

When you coach as a thinking partner instead of an expert, your job is to catch and return what you are given by the client. You don’t have to concoct a masterful question. You don’t need to figure out if what you want to say is intuition or a blatant projection of your own needs. You don’t have to have all the answers. You are a good coach if you share what you hear and see and maybe offer what you sense is happening with no attachment to being right.

You will probably ask a question after you share what you heard, saw, and sensed, but the question will come out of your reflection, not your overused “good questions” list.

When I teach these techniques, coaches from around the world say things like this:

“Thank you. You freed me from the tyranny of asking the perfect question.”

“I feel so much lighter after watching you coach.”

“You showed me how to have fun with my coaching.”

“Yes! Be present, be the mirror, and lighten up!”

This book will show how anyone wanting to use a coaching approach in conversations can use reflective inquiry to be more present and effective. The methods and examples will demonstrate how to achieve memorable and meaningful results whether you are a professional coach or a leader, parent, teacher, or friend using a coaching approach in your conversations.

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