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Chapter 6: Coaching Conversations

Imagine that you had an issue and you would like to talk it through with someone. How would you like that experience to be? Think about the environment, the person, the outcome.

We are all different and our descriptions of the environment and the person may be very different, depending on our preferences. The outcome however may be very similar. Ultimately if we have an issue most of us would want to resolve it. Coaches working with learner colleagues are often asked to help the learners resolve an issue. The issue may be lack of knowledge, frustration at inactivity, or the need to be able to influence a person or a situation.


The first step is identifying your coaching skills and competencies. To be able to create a memorable learning experience you need to identify your own skill set and levels of competence. Think about your own style and the way you build relationships. Thinking about creating the right environment for the learner is an important part of the role of a coach. Take every opportunity to create environments that encourage learning. The more natural you are the better the foundation on which to build the relationship. Always be sensitive to learners' needs and, although the environment may be more informal, never compromise on your professionalism or integrity. All the best learning takes place when a climate of trust between the learner and the coach is created. You need to be reassuring about confidentiality, highly responsive and seek to encourage the learner to take personal ownership, to be open in responses and to have a commitment to make it work.

How well do you listen? Do you really suspend your prejudices and listen to others with your whole mind? Often people are thinking about what they are going to say next or making assumptions about the individual or, worse still, thinking about something completely different. Have you developed the skill of effective questioning? Have you developed the ability to ask open questions, to create a natural conversational style when you are able to ask significant questions followed by a process of careful probing? The most skilled coaches have enhanced skills of questioning, listening and observing, and consequently people relax and are willing to talk to them.

One way of developing the skills of questioning and listening is to practice it as often as possible. All the skills involved in coaching are based on natural behaviours, showing genuine interest and having normal conversations with people.

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