Coaching Series 1: What is it like to be coached?


in Coaching

When you read articles about Coaching, especially those about work performance, do you think that they have  made a massive presumption… that you know what coaching is! Even some coaching professionals across the performance spectrum struggle trying to encapsulate a concise and well researched thought out definition.

What if, we take the view of the person being coached, the “coachee”. It is widely accepted that coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. (John Whitmore, in Coaching for Performance).

This is great for those that have clarity in understanding themselves and what they want to specifically work on, but often clients say they are stuck and, in a fog, when they come to me for 1:1 coaching.

Its when I hear this, I ask “What does it look, sound and feel like for the coach who is actually in the coaching experience?”

It looks like …two people, one coach and you the coachee (you might be the client and/or coachee depending on who is sponsoring the coaching. You’ll be having a session or number of agreed sessions usually 6 – 8 lasting 30 – 60 minutes. You’ll be in a private space either digitally or in person or even possibly outside but nontheless private.  You’ll exchange words, questions, responses, but there will be times when it is very quiet.  This is because your coach is fully engaging their listening skills and you are doing extremely important thinking.  You will also see your coach observing you carefully because they are noticing all your behaviour, a glance away or change in posture. This is because it is all valuable information or data as a coach might say.

It sounds like……lots of  talking and silence, too.  both are important especially because of the sensory listening skills your coach will use. I have heard of practitioners such as Linda Asprey who have worked with clients where almost the entire session is void of speaking.  You will also hear a clear structure to the session where your coach will begin by asking questions such as “how are you coming into this session today?” or will start by saying “I will today…….”. Your coach will explain their role and will communicate with you verbally and nonverbally. By asking powerful questions, reflecting back the words the coach says, sharing what they sense they are experiencing or even engaging in silence and being non-verbal time way longer than you might ever see in a work-based experience.

It feels like……. a very new and different experience if you haven’t been coached before.  It can give you many possible sensations that might be new to a work or leadership conversation because you are not being judged.  You might be uncomfortable but never dangerous, you might feel challenged or vulnerable but never unsafe.  You will always feel safe, this is fundamental to coaching ethics and is known as “psychological safety”. It may also feel very fluid that doesn’t seem to follow much of a format. Be reassured that your coach through many many accredited hours of practice will have a library of coaching models in their tool kit. From vastly positive feelings of clarity or emotional release where you discover new thinking, these become moments or pebble drop moments that you will remember. Whilst it can feel very natural to have a natural flow you will be aware of a definite beginning and end when your coach will ensure you are happy to close the session even asking, “how did we do today?”

Do you have a clear idea of what it would be like in a coaching session? What do you think about coaching now?

I would love to hear & see what is your response to this? Share about your experiences of coaching through your senses. Here is more for you to discover