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Coaching Skills: Self-Awareness and Self-Management

This lesson is a part of an audio course Coaching Skills for Managers by Karina Margole

In the previous lessons, when we were talking about listening and questioning, I've mentioned about being present for the person you are coaching. This can be quite hard because we all have our own worlds, and a lot can be happening for us at any given moment. Beyond that, there are also the reactions that we have to what other people say and do, and most of us don't know how to control those reactions. The person you are coaching might say something that triggers an emotional response in you, and you can't help but to engage in your own mental chatter rather than stay with the coachee on their topic. Something in the environment might be distracting, like loud noises. It might be that you yourself are having personal issues and can't help but to get distracted by your own thoughts, moving from level 2 and 3 listening down to level 1. And suddenly, you might realise that you actually don't know what the coachee has been saying for the last minute.

The important thing to remember here is that both you and the coachee are human. If you find yourself being distracted, pause. And then apologise and admit to the coachee that you are not a 100% present. It might be uncomfortable at first, but it's a great way to re-establish the trust that could otherwise be lost. Once you have explained what's happened, find a way to get back to the coachee's goal.

I mentioned before that in coaching, one doesn't give answers or advice. I want to talk about that a little bit here. Everyone is different, but I remember during my training, this used to be one of the hardest parts to master. Especially if you are a manager and are used to sharing your expertise and coming up with solutions.

It's important for the coachee to come up with their own solutions for a number of reasons. First, it makes them engaged in the process. People are natural problem solvers, and they want to figure out solutions.

Second, they will be much more likely to follow through on their plan of action if they are the ones that came up with it. People get great satisfaction from figuring out a plan of action, executing on it, and having success. It is very empowering. And even if the person fails, they are much more likely to bounce back and learn from it.

Compare it to when someone else suggests or sets a plan of action for you. You probably won't be as invested in it as if it were your own plan. And, if you are anything like me, you wouldn't particularly enjoy someone else telling you what to do. If you succeed, it won't be as great of an achievement. And if you fail, there will probably be resentment towards the person who suggested the plan of action.

Allowing a person to come up with their own solutions to problems and face the consequences of those actions is one of the most powerful ways for personal and professional development.

So, while it can be hard to do at first, it is really worth sticking to because you will get much better results from your staff, and it will help you to build a much stronger team. They will be more engaged, they'll progress faster, and they will probably come up with better solutions.

As with any skills already mentioned, the key point here is practice. Practice listening to the person in front of you and letting them come up with the solutions. If you feel the need to give advice, remind yourself that it would serve you, your coachee, and the business better to let the person in front of you come up with their own solutions.

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Written by

Karina Margole