Listening for “the who”

No, I don’t mean the Doctor or the band :-). The International Coaching Federation created “PCC markers“, behaviors displayed by professional coaches. They state:

5.1: Coach acts in response to the whole person of the client (the who).

6.1: Coach’s questions and observations are customized by using what the coach has learned about who the client is or the client’s situation.

7.2: Coach asks questions to help the client explore beyond the client’s current thinking or feeling to new or expanded ways of thinking or feeling about themself (the who).

8.2: Coach invites client to state or explore the client’s learning in this session about themself (the who).

In a session with a group of Russian mentor coaches, I was just able to explore the use of these markers in practice. The recording we were discussing was really interesting with regard to the coach’s ability to “coach the who”.

The client was talking about wanting to feel calm and wanting to not feel like “a newbie” in her new job. I am recreating the session here (for privacy reasons and because it was in Russian):

Client: “I just started a new job, and I am, like, so insecure. I go to work every morning, my heart is beating and the whole day, I feel like I am going to mess up. I really feel like a newbie! I wish I could beam one year into the future and know everything I used to know in my old job. I really would like my calm and composure back. I feel so “uncalm”. Yeah… it really doesn’t feel good”

Coach: “Ok, so what are your best hopes from this session?”

While the coach is supplying a really good Solution Focused question, she is not reacting to anything the client said — as if the client had said nothing. What the ICF is formulating by asking coaches to “coach the who” is for coaches to notice and pick up important words and acknowledge that their requests have been taken on board.

This might look like:

Coach: “Yeah, feeling like a newbie is never easy — so, I am hearing you would like to beam into the future and get your calm and composure back? Would you like to tell me a bit more about that?”

and then invite the client to explore if she wants.

In many coaching schools, the focus is on “asking questions” — maybe it is time to look at “looking for openings” (a phrase Jeff Chang uses) to ask connected and meaningful questions.

If you want to practice this, why not come to one of our free coaching meetup and exchanges:

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