Challenging Perceptions

Refresher Tools for Leadership Coaches

Challenging Perceptions

Challenging Perceptions comes straight out of my Coaches Toolkit. In the Coaching Master Class training I teach that there are instances in coaching where the Coachee will be experiencing limitations that stop or slow their progress towards achieving their business goals and fulfilling their potential. These limitation will be in their mind and be based on experience, beliefs, confidence, expectations, fears, self-image, attitude and personal agenda. Like it or not – this is their Reality. Whilst all of this may be submerged in their subconscious, it is the language they use and the emotions and behaviours they display which you can work with.

The role of the coach is to challenge the Coachee’s subconscious limitations and stimulate them to take a different and more productive conscious path; enabling them to move forward with high expectations of meeting and exceeding goals.

Here I cover two aspects of Challenging Perceptions: Body Language and Self-Talk. Read more ….

Why You Should Watch the Coachee’s Body Language

You will use challenging perception questions as the key to help your Coachee unlock themselves from negative or misplaced thinking. Watch the Coachee’s body language for signs that you have asked a ‘killer question’ (also known as a ‘power question’). Often they will drop eye contact with you momentarily. They may pause to reflect. They may even look surprised or shocked. This is the moment for you to pause as well. Use the power of silence to give them space to respond. What they say next could be a turning point in the coaching session.

What is Self-Talk?

You observe. You are in the moment. The Coachee will be running a parallel internal dialogue with themselves (Self-Talk) whilst simultaneously talking to you. Your goal is to ‘hear’ and understand this second strand of dialogue they are having with themselves, surface the issues that may be blocking their progress and help the Coachee meet them head on. Be courageous. Follow your intuition and ask that challenging question.

What are the Pitfalls of Challenging the Coachee?

Firstly, don’t over challenge. This can be perceived as unrealistic, commanding / demanding, and don’t interrogate or scare people.

Secondly, beware of challenging where there is a cultural difference in perception between coach and coachee. Use these situations as an opportunity to identify your own strong cultural orientation, examine the alternative one and leverage differences to broaden each other’s perspectives. The benefits of challenging: unlocking people from perceived barriers can help them deliver extraordinary results. Do it with sensitivity to culture and situation. Search ‘Cultural Context for Coaching’ in the Coaches Toolkit.

Examples of Questions

There are examples of Challenging Perception questions in ‘Tools – Challenging Perceptions’ in the Coaches Toolkit.

Further Reading

There is a great book that expands on the subject of this article called Challenging Coaching by Ian Day, John Blakey. Here you have a choice. You could go to the author’s website Welcome to the world of Challenging Coaching and buy the book. Or you could go to Toby Sinclair’s Book Summary: Challenging Coaching. In the book summary I commend the FACTS model to you: Feedback; Accountability; Courageous goals; Tension; Systems thinking. I particularly like the expansion on Tension, which suggests some valuable ‘challenging perceptions’ interventions. Happy reading.

Author: Trevor Sherman

Trevor Sherman: Author, Blogger and Coach. What do I do? I develop leadership training material and personal learning modules. I am the owner and operator of this Blog. I coach senior executives for their development and role transition. I am based in Northamptonshire UK and operate globally - in person and through technology.

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