What works best – a coaching conversation or a conversation with coaching in it?

What’s the difference? Sometimes it’s useful to set clear ground rules when you’re coaching – “this will be a coaching conversation, I’ll only ask questions and I won’t offer any opinions and will leave you to come up with solutions”. These conversations follow a set format and can be useful to help someone work through an issue. The downside however is a lack of freedom to interact appropriately in a conversation that probably doesn’t feel much like a conversation! I also wonder that if there’s a set format – should people just work through this process on their own?

Which promotes the idea of having a conversation with coaching in it. This is much more flexible and doesn’t feel like coaching which some people much prefer. It also allows you to add your thoughts and ideas, it feels less structured and more relaxed, but still allows you to go into coaching mode – ask questions, help them make a plan and commit to it – at the right time.

I use conversations with coaching in it much more than I use coaching conversations (particularly with my kids!). What will work best for you? As always context is everything. Do you recognise what is most appropriate in your environment – work, home, sport etc. – and do you spend enough time REGULARLY working on your skills to allow you to effectively adapt your approach?

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