A great number of people work as coaches, with specialties ranging from health and weight loss to life transitions and general goal setting. But even if you aren’t a professional coach, you still — whether you’re aware of it or not — use coaching methods to help encourage, understand, and motivate others.
Whether it’s urging your teenage daughter to clean her room, helping a friend with her next career move, or prompting a co-worker to pull his or her own weight, coaching helps both ourselves and others lead more productive, positive lives.
The three main coaching ingredients that lead to successful outcomes include active listening, clear communication, and non-judgmental evaluations.
When you put on your coaching hat, make sure that you’re “listening to hear, instead of listening to speak.” In other words, take the time to hear what the other person is trying to say, without jumping in with an opinion. No matter how well intentioned, it’s best to wait until the person has had the time to reveal why he or she may be acting a certain way before administering any kind of remedy.
Also, meeting in a private place where you won’t be interrupted helps this process, even if it’s as casual as the scenario of urging your daughter, Claire, to clean her room. For instance, Claire may be even messier than usual because she’s been feeling depressed about a recent break-up. If her little brother intrudes into the conversation, she may not be as likely to open up to you. So, whether it’s at work or home, make sure to hold your conversations in a quiet place where others can’t hear, and allow plenty of time for discussion.
When you want to help someone overcome personal or work-related issues, it helps to keep the communication open by staying as positive as you can, while stating your concerns in a clear, assertive manner.
Describing the specific reason why you may be concerned is a good start. An example of this would be: “I’m wondering why it’s been hard for you to get to work on time lately?” Using open-ended questions helps people give you a more realistic picture of what’s really going on. This can lead to more understanding on both ends, and hopefully a positive resolution as well.
If it’s appropriate, you may also want to share how the person’s behavior impacts others. For example, it may help the chronically late co-worker to get to work on time if he understands how his behavior is affecting others. Perhaps his tardiness is creating an overall dampening of office morale, or even an undertone of animosity toward him!
After sharing how his behavior negatively impacts others, it’s time to actively listen again to the other person’s response. Although you may hear a standard excuse or maybe even an apology, the real work is acknowledging what he has said and digging out any other conflicts that may be affecting him. Oftentimes, issues arise when people haven’t been trained adequately, don’t have the time to do their work properly, or feel overwhelmed and under-appreciated.
Once the person you are coaching has shared his or her challenges, it’s time to discuss solutions. It’s perfectly fine to offer suggestions, especially when the other person asks for them, but also try to help the other person articulate their own ideas. After all, that’s why we put on our coaching hats. Helping people define and work toward their own goals in the most positive ways possible is what it’s all about!