I’m part way through a coaching qualification.  I’m learning a lot about others, but a whole lot more about myself!

I’m not going to get into definitions of coaching, counselling and mentoring (that’s another whole blog on its own) but one of the fundamentals is that the agenda needs to be led by the coachee (the person being coached, for the uninitiated).

I’ve learned that “interference” can get in the way of that.  Interference being the stuff that goes on in your own head while a coaching session is taking place.  For those of us who are natural born “helpers” this can manifest itself in a whole string of ideas that bubble into your head while the coachee is talking. It can go something like this:

“I could suggest they try x, but maybe y would be useful too. What’s the title of that brilliant book by z? They should certainly read it!”

Which is all very well, and perhaps useful - but not coaching!  Meanwhile, this conversation in your head with yourself means that you haven’t actually been listening to what the person opposite you is saying - and so you’ve potentially missed the crux of the whole matter that they need to talk about.  Not good.

Other interference comes in the form of your own agenda. While they are describing the difficulty they are having with a knotty issue, you are thinking “Oh yes, I had that too, and I did x, y and z - but none of that worked. I must tell them not to waste time on those!”   Aside from which, their agenda may not be to solve it in the way that you are thinking!

And the interference doesn’t stop there.  Wanting to help, and assuming your experience may be useful is one issue, but then there is my natural tendency to want outcomes.  I’m constantly pulling myself back from wanting to have lists of actions for them to complete - and that may not be what they want at all!  They may just want to spend a whole session talking about what the issue is - never mind coming up with solutions!

I’m learning I need to relax, learn to listen, listen, listen - and there is the small matter of becoming skilful at asking the right question - but that’s another blog again.

Tell me some more about that……