How to balance, flexibility and structure in coaching conversations
Coaching is unique because no two coaching conversations are ever the same. Each individual brings their unique perspective to the table.
This makes coaching so interesting — every interaction is an opportunity for learning and growth. Each person has their own story, which shapes how they view the world. Their perspective is their truth.
As a coach, it is essential to be aware of these differences and find a way to balance structure with flexibility, process with responsiveness. In this week’s issue, we explore some of the dialogic nuances together.
It is worth noting, dear reader, this is an exploration in real-time. I will reflect and let my curiosity guide me, and my writing will lead me to clarity.
Structure Vs Story
Part of me has consistently pushed back against too much process and structure in coaching dialogue. This might come as a surprise to those who know me or have experienced facilitation with me. But facilitation is different in that it is bound by limited time and resourcing.
When there is scarcity, we need more constraint, which you might see as a contradiction, but every second needs to be designed when every second counts. Coaching dialogue at best is a co-created experience over an extended timeframe.
There are days when I feel like I need more space to be with my coaching client’s story. To hear them out, explore their experience and help them find meaning in what they are saying.
I need to bring more structure and focus to the conversation on other days. To explore specific topics, set goals and create action plans. In some coaching moments, structure interjects delicately via a phrase that corrals a fleeting set of swirling ideas.
It can be a delicate balance, but it is worth paying attention to. As coaches, we need to be aware of our style and approach and the needs of our clients. Find a way to balance structure with flexibility, process with responsiveness. Only then can we find what each coaching conversation needs.