The Globalization of Coaching
When coaching first developed as an industry the majority of coaching happened between English speaking coaches and English speaking clients. The competencies of the peak body, The ICF, were also were written by English speaking coaches.
The ICF now has over 120-plus Chapters in more than 60 countries, and much of the coaching that happens in the world now occurs in multiple languages.
Our student community here at ICA is also increasingly global (coaches from over 90 countries around the world) and many of our coaches speak more than one language. As this trend has grown, so has our interest in the effect of language diversity on the coaching process. Earlier this year we began a 6 month long Research Project to explore the issues and challenges that arise when either the coach or the client speak English as a Second (or other) language. In October we will be presenting the results of the research as part of a presentation at the ICF Converge conference in Prague.
The Importance of Language
In the same way that language can influence the parent/child relationship, or direct the success or failure of a legal case, it can be the making or breaking of a good coaching session. Language, or the choice of language is critical to coaching. The use of one word over another, or the delivery of an especially powerful phrase at just the right moment can create the environment for a client to make a significant shift, or experience a new awareness. Techniques such as ‘re-languaging’ the client’s experience can create a new, otherwise unseen perspective. Likewise the use of “mirroring’ the client’s language incredibly effective way of connecting and building rapport. When the coach ‘mirrors’ the clients language they make them feel secure, and understood. Language is used consciously and in various different ways by coaches all the time.
The importance of language can become even more apparent when the coach does not share the same first language as their clients. It becomes even more important to use techniques such as checking for meaning, rephrasing and mirroring.
At ICA we have a high proportion of coaches who speak English as a second (or additional )language, so we are perfectly placed to research the issues or challenges these coaches may have. Our survey explores things like:
- How many coaches speak more than one language?
- How many coaches live in a country other than the one they were born in?
- What are the common issues coaches face when coaching clients who don’t speak English as a first language?
The results of the survey will form part of a conference paper to be delivered at the ICF Converge conference in Prague in October. We will also share the results with the wider coaching community, where they can be used as a resource to inform the continued growth and development of coaching as a global profession.