A Coaching Power Tool created by Bikramjit Maitra
(Executive Coaching, INDIA)
It is very easy to discourage some body through our poor interpersonal communication skill, especially when the person is already under some stress. Same words spoken differently, different voice tone and gestures can convert or distort an apparent intention of encouragement into a very discouraging affair. This can be very easily experimented with small children or kids. If one taps a small kid even very lightly with grim face the kid will start crying even though the kid can no way feel pain because of that tap. Much sharper tap with a smiling face will extract a smile from the same kid. Intention perhaps is the same in both the cases but we end up getting dramatically different result.
One needs to be aware that many a time the same words carry different meaning for different people. One needs to be extra careful about voice control especially while in a phone conversation. The gestures may not be visible but the mood is very much understandable through the sound of the voice. The difference of grim voice and smiling voice of same person may be quite difficult to describe in words but easily can be understood when given a listen.
The cartoon above says it all. Intention not necessarily always gets converted into result. Along with good intention one would need sound plan and preparation.
This tool is devised to minimise the possibility of good intention to encourage somebody ending up in genrating discouragement, specialy in coaching scenario. It has been developed basing on the Four Principles of Interpersonal Communication (IPC) and adapting them for coaching scenario. The tool has three distinct parts.
Part I Preparation phase:
This refers to before the coaching prepartion part. Before entering coaching engagement spend few minutes, take a few deep breaths to clear the mind from any remnants of immediate earlier experiences. Think of few successful and encouraging conversation the coach have had in the past coaching scenarios which gave great sense of accomplishement. The coach reminds himself / herself sessionto focus on positives and push back consciously any negatives crowding the mind before starting the coaching session. This will prepare the coach to enter the coaching conversation with a positivly enegised frame of mind. Then clearly map activities for each of the four principles of IPC:
1) Interpersonal communication is inescapable:
Keep conscious of the body language (even on a phone call, some postures affect the response and tonality in the voice) the effect of silence and focus. The coach reminds himself / herself to be in the ‘here and now’ throughout the session.
2) Interpersonal communication is irreversible:
The coach prepares to paraphrase all important points in a neutral and level voice to avoid misunderstanding and extra careful about word selection.
3) Interpersonal communication is complicated:
The coach minimizes the complexity by reminding himself / herself to be absolutely non-judgemental and open minded during the whole session and also ask appropriate questions to bring down the mental barrier of the coachee. The coach reminds himself / herself to pay special focus to be very calm and empathetic throughout the session. In case of doubt always go for explicit verification.
4) Interpersonal communication is contextual:
This is the most important aspect which needs special focus during the next phase. The coach reminds himself / herself the different contextual aspect can have different response. Prepare for cultural context by investing time to know the nuances of the culture as far as possible to which coachee belongs. Also prepare to keep the environment of coaching session as comfortable and non-threatening.