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  • philhutchinson

Are you coaching or condescending/controlling/criticising?

Sounds scary doesn’t it but it’s easy to veer from the path if you're not careful, even with the best intentions at heart.

It is one of the hardest habits for coaches to to shed the need to direct and provide answers to solutions but if you're up for a bit of self reflection, here are three simple considerations to help you stay in the supportive zone during your coaching conversations:

1) Where is the focus?

Are you doing most of the talking? Remember it’s not about you!

Coaches illicit information and enable effective communication through thoughtful and insightful questions and comments. They encourage reflection and self exploration but they can only do this if they have really listened to what the other person has said and understand their world. The focus should be on them not you and if you’re doing the talking, chances are you might not be listening enough.

2) Challenge isn’t an excuse to bully.

So many people use the label of “challenging” to force their thoughts or opinions onto the recipient. If you want to encourage new ways of thinking or new perspectives, you can’t just trample all over years of embedded patterns of thought or behaviour. Try questions like, “why do you think that is the case?” “when did you decide that?” or “what other reasons might there be for that?” All are designed to create a safe place for the recipient to consider new perspectives and explore what a potential new truth might look like.

Personal growth starts with personal reflection and we need to create the space to encourage it.

3) How is your feedback landing?

Effective Feedback means that which is heard, understood, accepted and acted upon.

Telling a truth (to your mind) doesn’t mean you don’t have to be mindful of how you phrase your observations or challenge. Throwing a “truth grenade” into the room will cause damage and harm regardless of the intent! Reduce the risk or the sting of attack by focussing on the impact or effect of specific observed actions or behaviours. If you can’t identify the action or behaviour then you run the risk of attacking personality, which will always result in disengagement, defence or counter attack. Always follow up with some support and encouragement on the next steps required, if the individual wants to affect change.

There are lots of courses and books to build on these simple principles but feel free to get in touch if you want more support with coaching, mentoring or training delivery skills at

Good luck out there!

Phil @ Lanten


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