Tuesday 14 March 2023


It is always fun when we re-learn what we have known for a long time, with renewed force.  The other day, I was coaching someone who had had a significant success, trying out a solution that she had generated in our previous session.

My mind was racing ahead, to ways we could build on this and consolidate the learning, so that it was more readily available to her in the future.

Spring or Winter?...
I considered asking her whether that was where she wanted to go with the conversation. I was somewhat torn. On the one hand, I like to give us much agency as I can to clients during coaching sessions, and believe that generally they know best where to take the session.  On the other hand, I don't like asking questions when I already know the answer: it seems a bit insincere and possibly even manipulative. And I was pretty sure that she would say 'Yes, of course.'  

In the end, the agency consideration won, and I asked the question. And I was so glad that I had.  Because, she wrong-footed my assumption, by saying: 'Actually, I'd rather just sit with that and let it settle.  Maybe we can re-visit it another time.'

Which reaffirmed two things that I really knew all along: one is that my instincts about agency and self-direction are sound, at least for the type of coaching I had contracted for with this client (and I suspect more generally). And the other is that we may think - we may be sure - that we know what someone is going to say in answer to a question. And frequently, we may prove to have been right. But that doesn't mean we knew - we never know until we ask and they answer. Prior to that it is just a guess. So using that as a reason (or perhaps more accurately, an excuse) not to ask is a flawed strategy.


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