Coach – non-judgemental (and non-directive)


Coach – non-judgemental (and non-directive)

15 Mar ’19 Coaching and Mentoring 0

After spending some time considering intention and attention, I encountered a new dilemma during a recent coaching session. I anticipate that, in building up my coaching experience, I will encounter numerous new dilemmas, that is experience. Making meaning of the experience is my learning as a coach. In this instance, considering the position of being non-judgemental is the focal point.

As well as seeking a non-judgemental position, at the Master Certified Coach level, the ICF highlight that the coach is “completely attuned” and hearing “the client’s future develop.” What if that conscious future, is less secure than the client foresees, perceives or recognises? At least when compared to, or as assessed by my experienced judgement of the coach?

Recognising this conundrum made me warmly reflect on my thoroughly challenging conversations with Ian Morris – (Head of Wellbeing at Wellington College). As a value, the quality of being non-judgemental, benefits from from the observance of the Goldilocks syndrome*. There needs to be a balance here, as a coach, you have to get it ‘just right.’ That is the skillfulness underpinned by experience.

Being non-judgemental, suffers at the poles, dampening endeavour, being over-critical at one end and actively encouraging a false pretense, encouraging folly at the other. Being non-judgemental operates in a position of neutrality and whilst we are encouraged not to steer conversations, we need to be mindful of the extremities.

Goldilocks syndrome* – is of course a made up syndrome and metaphor.

What to do then?

First, one has to has have the self-awareness of it happening. Being present in the coaching session is essential, that requires one to be prepared. It also requires one to be centred (and that is not “coaching is all a bit apple-pie,” that is commitment to your client.)

Second, one has to warm it up, or cool it down, consciously and deliberately. Otherwise, there may be bigger issue further downstream.

Third, it is back to believing in that inner capacity of the client. Even if the obscurification persists and there will be a bump in the road ahead.

Fourth – it is what I am doing now. Reflect, reflect and discuss these experiences with your supervisor. Move experience to learning. Learning to informed coaching decision. My experience of coaching so far, has already shown me the value and importance of having a sounding board and supervisor to check in with.

Fifth – coach more. Miles on the clock provides more frequent and more reliable reference points and also frees up thinking space with which to attend to the client. Noticing more, may, ironically, allow you to let more go. Greater attention is possibly the goal?


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