Coaching Language

The words people use often have more meaning than is realized.  For example, when someone says they will try, is it likely to happen?  More often not because the word ‘try’ gives permission not to do it.  When someone says they do not want to be stressed, the brain hears the word stress and the very thing that person does not want is actually reinforced.

In coach training, the ICF Core Competency of Clear, Direct Language is developed by learning techniques for assertive communication and about neuro-linguistic programming for awareness of the meaning behind the words.  For example, coaches learn to ask instead of tell, to focus on the solutions, and to say things directly.  Coaches learn to recognize word patterns that limit understanding and motivation.

Compare these two statements:

“I really need to try finding a different job that is less stressful.”

“I am going to look for a job in an office that is organized and closes on time.”

The first statement feels like a complaint and lacks commitment to change anything.  The second statement includes a decision to proactively change the circumstances.  While the intention may be the same, the expression of it impacts the outcomes.

Effective coaches model positive, proactive language and ask questions that support their coaching clients’ use of the positive, proactive language too.

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