Home Concepts Schools of Coaching Appreciative “I feel you!”—The Role of Emotions in Coaching

“I feel you!”—The Role of Emotions in Coaching

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* Anger causes people to be more optimistic that taking action will turn out in a desirable way
* Anger conveys strength and competence to others
* Anger can motivate people to address injustice

Of course, we aren’t talking about seething hatred, violence or uncontrollable rage. Most of us experience those things only very, very rarely. Instead, we are talking about run of the mill spikes in anger that make the blood boil for a half hour or so before calming right back down.

So, how might anger—and beliefs about anger—play into coaching?

One example involves those rare occasions when clients walk into sessions angry because of a recent negative interaction. Coaches have long wondered how to manage this emotional experience. They have been curious about the extent to which the anger might interfere with effective coaching.

One way coaches sometimes deal with client anger is through “clearing.” This coaching technique involves having clients experience catharsis through the quick and temporary venting of anger. The idea underpinning this technique is that people who are allowed to express their anger can “get it off their plate” and make room for more effective coaching. Unfortunately, research does not support the effectiveness of this technique. Typically, expressing emotion increases arousal and keeps people angry.

As an alternative, consider using a different, although common, coaching technique: meta? view. In this technique, clients view their own situation from a third person, fly?on?the?wall perspective. Research has shown that this can reduce feelings of aggression.

In the end, I would not advocate than anyone harbor strong prejudices against negative emotions like anger. I would not advocate a view that these natural feelings are traumas. Instead, I would look for the most effective ways to validate them, understand them and manage them.

This article was originally published on the ICF Blog.


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