Early in my coach training, a mentor told me that the coaching conversation is not a “natural” conversation. She said this when I pushed back on a suggestion that she was making to help me improve my coaching. My pushback was that it (whatever she was suggesting) ‘didn’t feel natural.’ Through research, I learned that she was right…mostly. In fact, her suggestion was one of the most natural coaching “rules” or “techniques” to which master coaches overwhelmingly adhere. To this day, I don’t wholeheartedly embrace the technique, but I understand why it’s used. In real-world conversations, the technique is utterly unnatural.
Fast forward four years, and the rules, techniques, and principles of real coaching still challenge me. Take Direct Communication for example. It is the International Coach Federation’s (ICF) seventh of eleven core competencies. Next to the 80/20 rule of communication (where the coach listens 80% of the conversation and talks 20%), Direct Communication is in my opinion, one of the most unnaturally natural tools in a coach’s arsenal. Our clients can flourish when we master this competency.
The ICF defines Direct Communication this way: ability to communicate effectively during coaching sessions, and to use language that has the greatest positive impact on the client. The ICF further defines the competency of Direct Communication with five additional points of clarification.
You can visit the ICF website to read those five additional points of clarification. However, I have summarized the five points for you in a fun way that may be easier to recall.
- Say what you mean, mean what you say, get to the point, and don’t take all day.
- Use your insights and your words to reflect clarity; hold the mirror up to your client and remind yourself, this is not about me.
- Stick to the agenda, it is your client’s call; follow their lead and don’t drop your ball.
- Mind your manners in all you say and do; be professional in speech and remember who hired whom.
- A word-picture is worth a thousand and three score; analogies and metaphors inspire your clients to explore and learn more.
As Christian coaches, we are often looking for Bible verses under which we can submit all aspects of our coach training. Here’s one that I think speaks to Direct Communication:
But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36).
As coaches, we spend the majority of our time listening to clients. When it’s time to offer Direct Communication, let’s do so in a way that honors our client’s agenda, time, and the coaching profession in general. Let’s also provide Direct Communication in a way that honors the power of words and our accountability to the words we use.
About the Author: Marie Trotter is a business writer, book and magazine publishing expert, speaker, radio host, and trained life coach. She received her coach training through Erickson College, and she is a PCC member of the International Coach Federation. Her coaching niches are author and book development, community and organizational capacity building, leadership development, and communications. Marie is the founder of L.A.M.P. Sessions (Leadership Accountability Mentorship and Prayer), which connects and trains Christian women in leadership.