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Coaching

This or That?

A few days ago, I was observing a coaching practice session. The coachee was very generous, they would answer any question with a long and extremely complete answer. The coach was keen to probe into these answers and focus on the areas that were most important to the coachee.

“Do you want to do this or that?” – A common mistake from a novice coach trying to bring focus to the conversation.

When you use this approach, you are limiting the coachee to a couple of options that you have selected, and you are using your words to channel the conversation.

Imagine you ask the coachee “Do you want to go left or right?”. You have closed off the possibility of them continuing straight ahead, pausing for a while or maybe even turning around and taking another route!

When you present a binary choice, then the usual answer is one of those options, even if that wasn’t the best choice for the coachee, or it loses a lot of nuance in the answer.

Instead, gain the focus you seek by asking the coachee to tell you what’s most important to them. You can summarise back the various options they’ve provided, and use words like specific or one to build the focused response.

  • Which one of these is most important to you?
  • What specifically is the area you’d like to focus on?
  • You’ve mentioned five things, which of those is your top concern?
  • If you could only change one of these, which would it be?

All of these questions leave the power with the coachee to choose and provide the focus. You haven’t forced them to a particular channel, but you will move the conversation forwards!