We can’t stop ourselves having emotions. Indeed, why would we want to? So, how do coaches coach from a place that ensures their emotions do not hi-jack their approach and derail the effectiveness of their engagements with clients? What happens if you feel sorry for a client? What if you get an overpowering desire to tell someone what they need to do? What if something they say upsets you, or makes you angry?
Masterful coaches recognise that they can’t (and shouldn’t) block their own emotions, but rather, that they use these emotions to help them be a better coach. By raising awareness of their own reactions and emotions, coaches can channel their coaching skills into better listening, richer rapport and deeper presence.
If your emotions leak into your questions, then they will lose impact, and judgements you are making will be transparent. If you are focusing on how you feel, you will not be listening fully to the client, and presence in the moment will suffer. Much better to be open and honest about emotions that are showing up for you. Sharing with a client that, “….this is making me feel uncomfortable right now, how is it making you feel?”, is fine. In fact, role-modelling the sharing of emotions in this way, may well help elicit a deeper exploration and sharing of emotion by the client.
It is when coaching reaches this emotional level that great things often start to happen, and progress and movement becomes possible.
The importance of engaging on an emotional level was discussed in a previous post called the The Upstairs & Downstairs Brain.
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Louis – great point of view, as always. Self-awareness and ability to modulate your emotions is the key to success. What’s the best way you’ve found to create self-awareness?
Thanks for your comments Ron. A couple of ways that I find are very effective come to mind. One is to have people adopt different perspectives (through ‘role play’ works well) and see things from other people’s point of view. Another approach is to ask people to write up a ‘case conversation’ where they feel that the conversation did not go as well as they would have liked. I ask them to write what they said (verbatim) in the right hand column, and in the left column, record what they were thinking at the moment they spoke. Analysis of the contrast between what they are thinking and what they are saying, is often sufficient to open the way for people to be more self-aware of the interplay between their emotions and cognitive processes.
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