A Coaching Model By JeongJu Byun, Transformational Coach, UNITED KINGDOM
The Holistic Approach – The SYNC Model
SYNC: How to create an Integrated inner structure and navigate through its constellations
Understanding the multidimensional concept of the human system is a prerequisite for any coaching method. Through the holistic approach – the SYNC model – that I am presenting in this paper, I believe that we can manifest the coaching process and help clients integrate and navigate their four human structures, which are physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental, in their own style.
The theoretical physicist David Bohm showed that everything is simply interconnected as an undivided whole. My approach to looking at coaching practices is fundamentally based on his theory. As you may have experienced in the society we live in, we are accustomed to a fragmented worldview, from which we create our own realities consequently. Although it provides us with analytical skills requiring a narrow focus, we tend to lose touch with the balcony view, which allows us to grasp the whole perspective.
So, how am I going to apply it to my coaching practices?
Helping clients look at their situations, stories, and perspectives on a mindful level – there are three steps for each dimension – and integrating all aspects that they discover throughout the coaching engagement will build their capacity to synchronize all of the four dimensions to create the totality of reality.
The SYNC Model
☑︎ Tune Into Your Soma (Physical)
Soma or physical body is the living organism in its wholeness. As historical beings, we organize ourselves to be safe, to belong, and be worthy. These qualities are living in our body tissues. However, in the busy modern society where we are living now, we forget how to access our bodies and we even detach ourselves from where we fundamentally belong without realizing it. In coaching, you will experience how your soma structure is constructed and accessed by the following 3 steps.
Step 1: Notice
Recognizing what’s happening in the body would be the first step. The coaching questions such as below will help clients access the body gradually and get familiar with sensations.
- What are the sensations you can name right now?
- Where can you locate the sensations in your body?
- How can you describe the sensations in terms of texture, temperature, weight, etc.?
Step 2: Be With
We may experience sensations that are uncomfortable, irritating, or even unbearable when noticing them from Step 1. Some of us may push them away or distract ourselves by moving onto a mental dimension for example. The important thing to remember is to stay with the sensation that you are experiencing now. You don’t need to take any actions – yes, we tend to switch onto autopilot mode so quickly – but you can just name it and acknowledge what’s happening to your body. In coaching, you can ask questions as below.
- What are you trying to do with the sensation that you experience now?
- What does help you stay with it?
- What is getting in the way of staying with the sensation?
Step 3: Embody
To embody is a way of being – to be present. The quote from James Joyce’s novel Dubliners describes it so well – “Mr. Duffy lived a short distance from his body.”
The following coaching questions can accelerate clients’ body awareness and allow them to explore what is possible and how it can be integrated.
- What would it feel like to be present?
- How can you embody your aspiration?
- How do you notice when your body is synchronized with your thought or feeling?
☑︎ Balance Your Yin & Yang (Spiritual)
Yin and Yang is the concept of duality forming a whole. The two halves are constantly moving and interdependent on each other. Taoists say, “The wise person is flexible.” In coaching, you will experience how your different energies flow and how to keep the balance by the following 3 steps.
Step 1: Identify the Imbalances
Find what contrary values or qualities you have in your current situation. Naming them and identifying how excessive or deficient they are would help clients describe the imbalance outwardly. The following coaching questions can be used as examples.
- What values or qualities do you clash with within this particular situation?
- How excessive or deficient are the energies?
- What do you notice when there is an imbalance?
Step 2: Observe the Movement
Opposite energies are not static. By observing the movement between the two halves, you can get a perspective on your psychological pattern. Coaching can help clients see the flow and the change of contrary qualities situation by situation. See the examples of coaching questions below.
- How can you capture the movement of the contrary qualities?
- What are you learning about observing the flow?
- What is your energetic experience in having this belief?
Step 3: Maintain the Balance of the Whole
Maintaining equilibrium is the art of life. Understanding that we are not perfect or absolute beings can be a starting point to maintaining the balance of the whole. Coaching allows clients to experience that taking small steps to make a change is crucial in the process. For instance, it will help them ride the wave with the least resistance and find their own happy medium.
- What would be the first small step you could take to make the change?
- How can you apply it to your situation?
- What do you need the most to maintain the balance of the whole?
☑︎ Harness the Power of Neuroplasticity (Emotional)
Different people have different constellations of emotional reactions and coping strategies. Richard Davidson presented six emotional styles – each based on neuroscientific evidence –
which are resilience, outlook, social intuition, self-awareness, sensitivity to context, and attention. He also showed that these emotional styles affect physical health, and they can be also developed and adjusted by certain techniques.
Neuroplasticity is a hot topic in today’s research as you see, and Donald Hebb’s principle is cited often in a rhyme in coaching practices too, “what fires together, wires together.” In this particular building block of my coaching model, SYNC, clients will have a chance of exploring their emotional styles, find the emotional gap, and develop their emotional style throughout the coaching process.
Step 1: Identify Your Emotional Style
Each one of us has a unique emotional style. By defining our own emotional style, we can face, name, and get to know better the so-called ‘troublesome emotion(s)’ that we are dealing with daily. The following coaching question examples will facilitate coaching dialogues with a client.
- How would you describe the emotion that you experienced when you were talking about it?
- What’s holding you back from expressing the emotion?
- What emotions do you need to explore in order to let the issue you are experiencing surface?
Step 2: Find Your Emotional Gap
We sometimes end up feeling emotions that we did not intend to have initially in some situations. Where does the emotional gap come from? How am I going to support clients to face and close the gap as a coach?
- What is the truth beneath the emotion that you are feeling now?
- What was unspoken when you said that you had this particular emotion?
- How does this emotion relate to the feeling you had initially?
Step 3: Change Your Emotional Style
One of the fascinating findings in neuroscience research shows that the pre-frontal cortex regulates emotions. They believed that emotions were mostly associated with the amygdala and the pre-frontal cortex was associated with thinking, reasons, and problem-solving. These brain regions were once considered separate parts, but now neuroscientists are aware that they are highly interconnected with one another.
Richard Davidson uncovered that the more connections there are between the amygdala and prefrontal cortex, the better we tend to be at regulating emotions. These connections can be made by certain mindfulness practices, and we all have the capacity to change our emotional styles. Then, how can coaching help improve emotional style? See the following coaching question examples.
- What practices can you put in place in order to respond to emotions in new and constructive ways?
- What are your emotions trying to tell you?
- What indicator can you observe at the moment when you are experiencing negative emotions?
☑︎ Reframe Your Own Cognitive Biases (Mental)
Many decisions in life are made based on our experiences and knowledge in a conscious or unconscious way. Some might work, and some might not. How will you know if the reasons behind your decisions make good choices?
The psychologist Daniel Kahneman differentiated System 1 thinking from System 2 thinking. The first is related to automatic judgments which come from associations stored in memory and is critical to survival, and the latter is effortful reasoning.
How can the SYNC model help clients make better decisions over and over again?
Step 1: Identify Your Cognitive Biases
We believe that the way it worked well last time would work also in another time or situation. However, many people find themselves stuck at a certain level of success. How can the coaching help them learn their cognitive biases and their limiting belief? The following coaching questions may challenge their thinking process and help them sense their hidden barriers.
- What belief is behind your reasoning?
- Where does the thought come from?
- How do you know that this belief is absolute and true? Explain
Step 2: Pause and Find Out What Affects Your Thought Process
Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present and bringing one’s attention without involving any judgment. Moving away from System 1 thinking, the SYNC model helps clients take a mindfulness technique that works well for them. The following coaching questions could foster the process effectively and let them see what impact it has on their own decisions.
- What would take you to pause and see what’s really going on?
- How would you reflect on past similar decisions?
- When would be the right moment to make the choice?
Step 3: Explore Alternative Options
Many people think narrowly about possible outcomes. Once they think that it would be the best option to take, they stop there. However, the future is uncertain, and they won’t know the whole picture until the time comes. So, how can the coaching allow them to think twice and consider uncertainties? See the example questions below.
- What other options can you think of?
- Who else can support this idea to be verified?
- How can you challenge your viewpoints further?
Wholeness And The Implicate Order (1980) – David Bohm
Never Split the Difference (2016) – Chris Voss, Tahl Raz
Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life: Living the Wisdom of the Tao (2007) – Wayne W. Dyer
The Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsychological Theory (1949) – Donald Hebb
The Emotional Life of Your Brain (2012) – Richie Davidson
The Developing Brain (1992) – Carla J. Shatz
Thinking, Fast and Slow (2011) – Daniel Kahneman
What Got You Here Won’t Get You There (2007) – Marshall Goldsmith
Wjrr.org. Multiple Human Bodies: Psychological understanding of Holistic Approach and Intuition
Harvard Business Review. The Work of Leadership
Harvard Business Review. Outsmart Your Own Biases
PositivePsychology.com. What Is Cognitive Bias? 7 Examples & Resources (Incl. Codex)