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Home » Blog » Dynamics of a Coaching Conversation  

A coach embodies a coaching mindset, they develop and maintain a mindset that is open, curious, flexible, and client-centered. And that’s exactly what being fully present is, to the other person being curious and not getting attached to any intuition. A coach acknowledges that clients are responsible for their own choices and engages in the ongoing learning and development process. In this episode of The xMonks Drive podcast, we discussed with Tracy Sinclair how a coaching conversation has several properties that add to the growth and development of a coach.

What is a coaching mindset?

Gaurav: ICF defines the coaching mindset competencies like this, where a coach develops and maintains a mindset that is open, curious, flexible, and client-centered. Let’s try and understand what does it mean when we say coaching mindset?

Tracy: My interpretation of this is that we’re really inviting ourselves as coaches to go beyond the doing of coaching. The coaching mindset is actually about saying that to really be the best coach I can be. It’s not just about what I do. It’s about how I am being when I’m doing the practice of coaching.

Coaching is not just about learning, a set of skills, almost like a checklist that says, If I do all of these things if I ask these questions, and I listen, that we’ll have a great conversation. And one of the things that we know from some aspects of coaching psychology is that one of the largest impacts on the success of a coaching engagement is the nature and quality of the relationship between the coach and their client. And so, our mindset, our attitude, our stance, our state, is going to have invariably an enormous impact on the nature and quality of that relationship. So, it is not just about applying a skill. This is about how are we being where we are applying that skill.

Co-Creating Coaching Space

Gaurav: Coaching, it’s not about asking questions. It’s not about listening. It’s not about using direct communication or managing progress and accountability. It’s the space from where you’re operating. And would it be a fair assumption to make, that when we are talking about being, it also talks about the intentions and the space that you’re holding?

Tracy: In the coaching space, maybe the coach says nothing at all. Maybe the coach doesn’t actually do anything other than be with their client, other than sit with them, with the client’s work, with the client’s thoughts, with the client’s feelings, and sits with them to witness what that client is experiencing.

So, I think it’s, for me, that is the Coaching mindset. It’s not about necessarily what I do, even though those things are of course, valuable. But with the coaching mindset am I able to just step into a space that is going to be an optimal space for me to work with that person. That coaching space is going to be created equally, by my energy, by my thoughts, my feelings, what’s going on with me, as it is about my client because we co-create that space together.

Coaching is a Work-in-Progress

Gaurav: There are times when I am so much cluttered with my own internal conversation that I feel it actually hampers my clarity, and not being able to be fully present for the other person. How can I hold that space where my being is fully in alignment with the conversation that I’m having?

Tracy: We are also human beings, we are just as prone to the complexity, to the fear, the confusion, the agitation, the bias, all of those things that our clients are. Just because we are coaches, it doesn’t mean that we have elevated ourselves to another level that we are prone to human responses and feelings. So, I think of this as being a work in progress, you know, this is not something that is a switch.

We are in that work-in-progress. And like our clients, there will be days or periods in our life, when that mindset is hard for us to access because we have things troubling us, we have a lot going on in our world. There are times when perhaps as coaches, we probably would be better not to coach other people because our capacity to be truly present for them is sufficiently impeded that we cannot give them the fullness of the benefit of the work. Here, we need to step back. So, we may even have a responsibility to say no to that conversation if we feel that we cannot sufficiently access enough of that mindset. But it is important that we are self-aware, which is one of the other things, of course, that comes out in the competency is how self-aware are we? Because in order to bring that being, we have to constantly try to learn about ourselves, not just our clients, we are part of the vehicle of the process of coaching.

Ingredients of presence

Gaurav: Would it be a fair assumption to make that the more self-aware you are of yourself, the more present you would be in a coaching conversation?

Tracy: There are more ingredients of presence than just self-awareness. But if I’m not self-aware, I think my ability to be truly present with a client is going to be impeded. So, self-awareness is pivotal. To me, being able to access myself, which is then coming into that state of presence with somebody else. And if I’m in my own state is out of my consciousness.

If I oversimplifying this, my mind with your question immediately goes to three elements. One is myself. So, part of my presence is my self-awareness. And what I’m bringing in is another part of my presence. It’s not just, giving a one-way presentation to someone, this is an interaction a transaction, or dialogue between us. So, I think part of my presence is then not self-awareness, but awareness about my client. And then the third place that I go, is more the space. And the context is when I’m here, and you’re here, what, what then is created around us, what is the space then that we evoke, that we create together? And there’s probably then a fourth, which is what’s outside of us? What’s the context? You know, that’s behind the client, around the client? Or what’s the context, that’s behind or around me? And it could probably go on, you know, I mean, there are layers aren’t there? And, and I’m not saying that as a coach, I have to be, you know, so omni-focused. I’m aware of every single dynamic because that might be quite overwhelming, I’m sure. But at least that I’m conscious that it’s there that I’m aware that those dynamics are happening, and to just be alert to that, to be sensitive to that, and to consider how might that be affecting the conversation that we’re having.

About The Speaker: Tracy Sinclair

Tracy Sinclair is a Master Certified Coach from ICF is a specialist in the field of coaching and have been recognized as one of the Leading Global Coaches winners of the Thinkers50 Marshall Goldsmith Coaching Awards of 2019 She believes Transformational positive change and learning is achieved through a conversation that results in thinking and acting differently.

Add more variety to your life, it is only going to add more spice with Tracy Sinclair who can be found speaking at The xMonks Drive podcast available to you here.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a coaching mindset?

The coaching mentality, as defined by the ICF, is one in which a coach cultivates and maintains an open, curious, adaptable, and client-centered mindset. To truly be the best coach one can be, the coaching attitude is about saying that. It isn’t solely about what one does. It’s about how they act when they are practicing coaching.

How should a coach create a coaching space?

A coach with a coaching attitude should enter a setting that will allow him to work with that person most effectively. That coaching environment will be produced equally by his energy, thoughts, feelings, and what’s going on with him as it will be by my client since they will be co-creating it.

Does more self-awareness mean more presence in a coaching conversation?

In a coaching conversation, presence encompasses more than just self-awareness. However, if a person is not self-aware, their ability to be fully present with a client is hampered. As a result, self-awareness is critical.

Who is Tracy Sinclair?

Tracy Sinclair, an ICF Master Certified Coach, is an expert in the field of coaching and was named one of the Leading Global Coaches winners of the Thinkers50 Marshall Goldsmith Coaching Awards in 2019. She believes that transformational positive change and learning can be achieved through a conversation that leads to new ways of thinking and acting.

What creates an impact on the success of a coaching engagement?

One thing we know from some elements of coaching psychology is that the kind and quality of the relationship between the coach and their client has a significant impact on the success of a coaching engagement. As a result, our thought, attitude, position, and state will invariably have a significant impact on the character and quality of that relationship.