Inquisitive Report 14/52

Week Ending May 4th, 2018

Content Covered: Coaching Workshop


A few days ago I attended a workshop provided by Stanford on Coaching Skills. My motivation to attend this workshop was to gain insight on the expertise involved in having a conversation where the intent is to help someone help themselves, and I’m happy to say I did find what I was looking for.

I’ll share a few key insights that I took away, please note I use the word “coach” to describe the propensities of a person whom is inclined in having a conversation  that helps another uncover insights within themselves, instead of trying to provide the answer to their problems. In this light, we all have the opportunity and in a sense, responsibility to be ‘coaches’ to others. After all, there is an old proverb that says: “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” I view coaching as a tool that all can learn and use to not only help themselves, but help others.

Perhaps, reading what I have to say will give you a chance to reflect on your own conversation style.

Listening: to understand not to respond

One of the key distinctions between a casual conversation and a conversation geared to help someone find insight is the mechanism through which the coach listens to the other.

When the coach listens to understand, for every statement that is said by the other, the coach responds with another questions geared to help uncover insight. In short: inquisitiveness is our best friend. When the coach starts to say things like: have you tried, what about, did you think about; the conversation has now shifted from the person finding insight within themselves on how to handle their problems to leaning on the coach for wisdom.

While there is nothing wrong with the coach providing insight on how to handle the situation, the old 80/20 rule is a good practice to follow. Eighty percentage of the conversation should be the coach asking questions helping the other dig deeper into what is bothering them, and what they can do about it, and the last twenty percentage of the conversation is where the coach can provide the other with a space to ask any questions that they may still have, or doubts still on their mind.

During this time, the best way to give advice is in the form of storytelling. When we share a story about a time that we dealt with something similar we allow the other person to come with us on a journey of how we handled that type of situation in our world. This allows the coach to share insights without ‘telling’ the other person what works, or giving a list of things to do and not to do.

Reflecting: not only on the process but on the people 

A universal skill that we discussed in this workshop was the concept of reflection. Often times, at work or when playing a team sport – after a certain activity, the team ‘reflects’ or break’s down the play by play of what happened. We analyze the decisions that were made, what worked, what didn’t work, etc. The normal outcome of such a debrief is lessons learned about the process.

In addition to reflecting on the lessons learned about the process, when we take time to reflect on the people whom were involved – what we learnt about them as human beings and participants in this environment we gain valuable insights on patterns of familiarity as well as on their strengths and talents. Reflecting on the people entails asking what did we notice in common about every one involved, what was their mood and behavior, what propensities did individuals display, etc. In short, this is a time to create a social profile of how others are like us, and how we all fit together.


If you are interested in learning more about particular formats, please look up the GROW Coaching Model; additionally I’d be more than happy to discuss this technique in more detail offline.

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