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The Development of Coaches Survey: III. Influence and Learning

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There is an intermediate form of influence and learning — somewhere between soft and hard. This occurs in our interactions with colleagues. The “reality” being created in this interaction is produced by the two of us together (what some contemporary psychotherapists describe as “intersubjectivity”). It is hard in the sense of occuring “out there” in the world, rather than within our head and heart. It is soft in that this moment of “reality” is often fleeting and not easily replicated. We can prepare a transcript of the conversation that occurs, but somehow this doesn’t capture the real essence of what has occured in this moment of shared collegial insight and “truth.”

Placing all of this together, I would suggest that findings from the Development of Coaches Survey point to “soft’ learning as being of greatest important (influence) for many coaches, whereas “hard” learning is less important. This ordering of priorities seems to align with findings from the first two reports indicating that coaches tend to be most comfortable with the “soft” processes of coaching (building rapport with clients, being good listeners, etc.) and least comfortable with the “hard” processes (tactical and strategic thinking).

I noted in the previous reports that Daniel Kahneman’s “Fast” thinking seems to align with the “soft” coaching processes, while his “Slow” thinking aligns with the “hard” processes. A Nobel Prize-winning behavioral economist, Kahneman (2011) suggests that “fast” thinking tends to be highly intuitive. It operates in the procedural domain of our brain and therefore is often unconscious or habitual. By contrast, “slow” thinking tends to operate in the expository domain of our brain and therefore is usually quite conscious, deliberate and laborious.

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