ICF defines the embodiment of a coaching mindset as developing and maintaining a mindset that is open, curious, flexible, and client-centered.

In the last issue, we covered the foundation of embodying a coaching mindset regarding cultural awareness. In today’s article, we will cover:

5. Uses awareness of self and one’s intuition to benefit clients

6. Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one’s emotions

Self-management is core to the core coaching mindset. Coaches must have the ability to be aware of what is happening in themselves internally in response to both what the client is experiencing and to their past experiences and personal filters. What the coach is experiencing and sensing from the conversation can be helpful to the client. However, it is crucial that the coach separate the coach’s benefit and the client’s benefit. The coach’s benefit has no place in the coaching conversation as it turns the focus to the coach’s needs. But when the coach can utilize their interaction experience with the client to benefit the client’s movement forward, it can help the coaching experience.

An example of how a coach might bring their own emotional experience into the conversation can be found in this experience. While coaching with a client, he expressed concern that his co-workers accused him of talking down to them. As he told me the story of their interaction, including what he said to them, I imagined myself in his coworker’s position in the exchange. The empathetic position allowed me to feel what I believe the coworker felt. When he finished speaking, I asked for permission to make an observation. The observation I gave was that while listening to him describe the interaction with the co-workers and putting myself in their position, I realized I felt defensive in response to the tone of voice and words he was using. I then asked him how hearing this perspective of the situation impacted him. The client was able to step back mentally and consider the interaction from the co-worker’s perspective and realized that though he intended to help his co-workers, the message they were receiving was one of criticism. We continued the conversation and looked at ways to shift his interactions with his co-workers to accept him as helpful rather than critical.

Self-management was critical in this instance because it would have been easy for me to take on the co-workers’ offense and see my client in a bad light, which would not have helped him. Instead, the ability to regulate my own emotions and responses to remain in a neutral stance created the ability for us to explore the situation without blaming or judgment. This neutral stance created a safe place for the client to explore options and obtain new awareness about the problem.