In this extra edition – the quickest coaching introduction for a group of students or staff.
First Coaching Experience
My first experience of the word ‘coach’ was at a presentation of coaching in 2003.
In a hotel conference room, filled with consultants of every shape and hue, we met the Danish coach and presenter, Bo.
Bo asked the audience to “Coach the person next to you on a topic of their choice”.
After a few minutes he revealed what most of us had done. We had given advice based on our personal experience of our partner’s problem. Bo asked for a show of hands for “How many will follow the advice you were just given by your partner?”. Almost no hands went up.
He then challenged us to choose a new partner and “Elicit your partner’s own solution, by listening to them and reflecting back what you hear”.
I felt excited that I didn’t need to have an answer to my partner’s problem. He talked, I listened. This time, when Bo asked how many people would follow the advice they had come up with, almost everyone raised their hands.
My partner raised their hand too.
That did it for me. I signed up to learn how to be a coach.
“I might not be able to pay teachers more money, or give them the public recognition they deserve for the amazing work that they do, but I can encourage school leaders to introduce coaching to their staff. And that will be my contribution to a better world.” Martin Richards – certified coach, educator, has worked in Primary and Secondary education as a Maths teacher, an English teacher.
Martin is the Founder and Director of the non-profit C4E, Coaching for Educators, which offers affordable coaching, and training in coaching skills, to educators.
The Quickest Coaching Intro
The key is to give your staff the chance to experience being coached and decide for themselves if they want to learn more about it. This act of trust and confidence, is in itself part of the coaching approach.
The following activity takes 30 – 40 minutes from start to finish, and leads to your staff choosing whether or not they are ready to learn more about coaching.
What to do
Instruction: Ask people to find a topic, from home or work life, that they are comfortable talking about.
Prompts: “What are you most proud of this week?” “What still upsets you after all these years?” “If resources weren’t an issue, what’s one thing you would like to change?”
Pairs – Round One
Instruction: A listens to B speaking about their topic for a few minutes.
Reflection: Ask the A’s if they thought of (and gave) advice. Ask the B’s if they would use the advice they were given
Pairs – Round Two
Instruction: B listens to A speaking about their topic, for a few minutes.
Reflection: Ask the A’s if they thought of any advice to give themselves. Ask the A’s if they would use the advice they came up with.
Why Does This Work?
If we compare ordinary conversations with coaching conversations, we can see the mechanisms that make coaching conversations so powerful.
Ordinary Conversations with Colleagues
As the Listener:
- It’s normal to take equal turns in the conversation
- You want to be helpful
- You recognise the topic and have something to say about it
- You have experience / opinions / information / etc to share
- You like solving problems
- You like to ‘be the one’ for others
- You offer your solution because you want to be right.
As the Speaker:
- You want to be the one speaking, about yourself, your situation and how you feel about it
- You want to be heard and understood
- You want empathy, and a little compassion
- Your subconscious voice wants to be heard
- You want to have a solution
- You will believe most strongly in the solution you come up with yourself
- You know you have the solution buried inside, and need to hear yourself say it
Summary: Often, such conversations spend more time describing the problem and its impact than on finding solutions. If a solution has been discussed, it’s usually the Listener who came up with it and tried to persuade the Speaker to accept it.
Result: Frustration and frowns
Coaching Conversations with colleagues
As the Listener
- You mostly listen. You balance the turn-taking 80-20 in favour of the Speaker
- You help by repeating back a little of what’s been said, so the Speaker can hear themselves
- You set aside your own ideas, reactions, responses etc
- You are ‘the one’ who listens, understands, has empathy and compassion
- You hear what the Speaker subconsciously wants
- You help the Speaker hear themselves and come to their own conclusions about what is important, and what to do about their situation
As the Speaker
- You get to speak more than the Listener
- You focus on the present moment, and the desired goal more than on the past
- You hold back the ‘story’ behind the topic
- You focus on the ‘request’ inside the ‘complaint’
- You speak from your heart more than from your head
- You hear the Listener repeat back your words
- You hear your subconscious needs
- You clarify your goals
- You uncover the deeper reasons for your discomfort, and desire
- You plan the actions you need to take to reach your goal
Summary: Such conversations result in the Speaker finding a solution to the problem, becoming clear about their goals and reasons for it. The Speaker feels more energised and confident; and grateful. The Listener feels they have contributed positively, in a non-invasive way, to someone else’s life.
Result: Empowerment and smiles