Coaching is so much more than just a conversation! Coaching goes beyond the ability to ask questions and listen attentively. Coaching explores personality traits, behavioural habits and thinking processes.

The outline above is how I see coaching conversations develop, and whenever I engage with different groups of people, some themes or questions always pop up, that being “why is it that coaching is seen as the tool to help people” Or “what is it about coaching that works”.

My answer always returns to how the coach engages others in seeing things differently, and this is achieved by the way the coaching conversation is structured.

Coaching conversations focuses on helping another person understand themselves through the art of communication. At the core of the conversation, you will find the very essence of the problem, situation, or individual goal.

Coaching conversations are based on asking rather than telling, provoking thoughts rather than giving directions or advice, and holding individuals accountable for their goals and aspirations.

Coaching conversations are an essential way to turn experiences into learning and helps individuals engage and develop themselves by becoming more self-aware, leading to better work-related performance. Coaching conversations reinforces strengths and explores weaknesses, opportunities and threats, allowing people to take control and ownership for their actions and interpersonal development.

Coaching conversations require good use of emotional intelligence, often referred to as EQ, to understand and interpret the coachee’s emotions and feelings. Coaching conversations bring emotional intelligence into play, and the coach uses specific techniques and skills, offering the coachee a new and fresh way of communicating.

Coaching can be more time-consuming in the short term compared to other methods of training, improving or developing your staff, but Coaching pays dividends overall. It is acknowledged as one of the best ways to get improved performance from the individual or team.

More broadly, organisations benefit from creating a coaching culture, and although it can be seen as onerous because of the pressure and demands on employees. A coaching culture supports leaders and managers who need a broad portfolio of management and leadership tools.

Coaching conversations, when used in any modern-day workplace, are seen as a powerful tool; coaching conversations have proven to be a highly effective way of developing individual and organisational performance, unlocking capability by:

  • Improving team collaboration
  • Cultivating team development
  • Increasing employee engagement
  • Enhancing job satisfaction and morale

Being a coach is all about developing others, and it is an essential part of leadership. Effective coaching conversations requires you to do a few things:

  1. Listen with curiosity, put the coachee at the heart of the conversation, and become a great listener.
  2. Build rapport, ask insightful questions and embrace silence, giving the coachee time to know what they want.
  3. Give objective feedback, and remember there is no such thing as failure, only feedback.

When you’re able to listen with curiosity, respond by building rapport, embrace silence and give constructive feedback, you will have the basis of a coaching conversation.

Start your coaching conversation by finding out the coach’s views of their current situation, using active listening and asking open questions to encourage the coachee to talk openly and raise their awareness and, therefore, insight into the issue.

Using the INSIGHT coaching model as a frame will help you ask insightful questions, taking the coachee on a journey of inner self-discovery. This is a way of creating time for the coachee to think about what is important for them to achieve.

The essence of good coaching conversations is that the development process is two way and enables both parties to build absolute trust in each other. Therefore, a trusting relationship must be established, and expectations are explored from the very beginning.

As you can see, “Coaching is so much more than just a conversation! Coaching goes beyond the ability to ask questions and listen attentively. Coaching explores personality traits, behavioural habits and thinking processes.”

Eileen Hutchinson.

Eileen Hutchinson
Eileen is a coach, author, entrepreneur and creator of the INSIGHT coaching cycle referenced in coaching and management theory books. Eileen’s passion is coaching and teaching, and she is the owner of EH Leadership Coaching Academy, a centre with ILM status offering accredited courses in coaching and leadership. Eileen is an experienced trainer and supervisor of other coaches. She is a member of ILM, EMCC and Association of Coaches. Eileen is currently developing an ILM Level 7 Supervision course with clinical Psychotherapists and a group of experienced coaches and supervisors. Eileen is at her best when working with people, teams, and businesses, helping them create their visions and dreams. Eileen’s experience crosses many different sectors, from working with Universities, The Cabinet Office, SMEs, Corporates to International Charities on leadership, coaching, mentoring and behavioural change management. Eileen’s clients see her as a soulful friend who offers guidance and wisdom to help each person on their journey. A trusted mentor who communicates the truth of how things work, who guides you through the pitfalls of achieving the results you want! Eileen’s work is shared with you through daily positive quotes on social media, publications, media interviews by the UK Government and Universities.
Eileen Hutchinson, Coaching & training specialist