Is coaching language a science or an art? Yes! In other words, based on research and experience, it is both. Word choice makes a difference. Consider people who are labeled as toxic or charismatic; their words are a key difference in how they are perceived.
Coaching uses clear direct language and powerful questioning, and this requires an awareness of word choices developed through coach training.
How clear and direct is the word might? The expression “coulda, woulda, shoulda all over yourself” implies limitation with each of the words. Saying try is giving permission not to follow through. Saying need to creates resistance. The words in these examples emphasize a lack of confidence and a lack of conviction or personal motivation.
Replace the limiting words might, could, would, should, try with will. Change need to want or will. Say the same thing with the different words and reflect on how it feels different.
- “You should apply for more jobs.” Chances are the person will defend that they are applying for many jobs and give barriers to applying for more. Alternatively, “What is your game plan for job applications?” opens the door for their proactive planning.
- “I am frustrated when I feel unheard because then it seems everything gets stuck.” Using this language supports an opportunity for further discussion.
- “We should take out the garbage.” Typically, this is a request for a specific though unidentified person to take out the garbage because it is a one-person job. Instead, “Please take out the garbage now,” is respectful and clear.
Words make a difference and are a powerful tool developed during coaching certification for understanding, creating clear and direct communication, supporting client focus and motivation, and asking powerful questions.
Equally significant is the absence of words – the power of silence. The next blog is on silence.