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Qualifying Marker #6: Direct Communication

Although listening and questions form the bulk of the coaching tools you use, directly stating what you see and giving feedback to your client is also necessary for effective coaching.

Does the coach share thoughts, intuitions, and feelings that serve a client’s learning or action plan?

As a coach, you are allowed to share good thoughts, ideas, and emotions with your client. However, it is recommended to do so in a way that also encourages their forward movement or new understanding. You want to offer insights that help lead the client to an insight they can implement in their upcoming action plan.  

Does the coach share the observations and intuitions without attachment?

Here, the ICF has a specific marker that checks whether or not you are attached to that initial thought or intuition you shared with your client. It is easy to get caught up in wanting to validate your opinion or idea, especially if you think it will be really useful for your client. However, to reach this marker, you have to let go of being right and allow your client to either accept, modify, or change your ideas completely.

Does the coach use the client’s language to reflect the client’s way of speaking?

This marker points to the skill of paraphrasing or reflection. It is repeating back a few words that your client just used or pointing out that you keep hearing the same words used in the same way. Here’s an example from John Andrew Williams, CTEDU founder: “I remember once, I was working with my coach, and he stopped me and said, ‘John, you always talk about how you just have to get through the next three months. You’ve been saying the next three months for the last two years. What is the use of thinking about your professional work in terms of three months?’ He picked up on the habitual language that I used and gave me some very direct feedback that helped me think about how I was using language. It was a perfect example of direct communication using the client’s words.”

Does the coach use clear and concise language?

The ICF is looking to make sure that you are keeping your feedback short, crisp, and clear, or in other words, that you are using direct communication.

Does the coach allow the client to do most of the talking?

The ideal coach-to-client word count would be between 80-90% client and 10-20% coach.

Does the coach only interrupt the client purposefully or when the client is telling a clearly unproductive story? 

Sometimes, bottom-lining is useful. The ICF is looking for your ability to keep quiet and listen to your client, except when you sense that your client is going on for too long and not exploring new territory.

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