Coaching World Issue 13: March 2015 - Page 9

Spotting a Faux Pas A faux pas occurs anytime we say something that we subsequently realize is not being in full support of our client. For example, a coach might ask a question with an edge in her tone of voice that signifies she is holding her own agenda, rather than the client’s. Maybe the coach expected that her client would complete a set of stated actions by the next session and, when the expectation isn’t met, the coach’s tone communicates, “You aren’t able to keep your commitments,” and comes across as parental or judgmental. Another example would be when a client is transitioning to a senior role in his organization and having difficulty with being micromanaged by his superior. The coach’s questions communicate that the client needs to do what his boss says, instead of supporting him in finding ways to have a difficult conversation with his superior. A faux pas can also be more subtle. As a Mentor Coach who listens to a lot of recorded coaching sessions, one example I often hear is when the energy of the client goes down. This often occurs when a coach takes the client off track from the stated, desired outcome for the coaching session and asks questions that don’t add any value to the conversation or the client. Responding with Grace If you only recognize something was “off” after the session has ended, reflect on that. Then, reach out to your client by phone or email and let her know your thoughts (e.g., “I was reflecting on our coaching session yesterday and realize I may have inadvertently communicated in a way that wasn’t empowering to you. I just wanted to check in with you and see if there was anything that I could have done differently.”). Even if the client doesn’t recognize it, it’s good that you’ve picked up on your faux pas and corrected it. In so doing, you’ll also demonstrate that you’re a human being who is aware that your way of thinking and behavior affects your client. By owning your faux pas, you’ll be demonstrating how to communicate difficult and challenging thoughts and feelings. In my experience as a Leadership Behavior Coach, this is often one of the things our clients want and need to gain more experience doing for themselves. By modeling how to have a challenging conversation and own your behavior, you are being a masterful coach and being of service to your client beyond measure. Building Trust If you are sensitive and conscious to your coaching presence, you will recognize when you have said something that may lessen trust. This level of vulnerability builds trust and intimacy. Trust is built when we have an open and honest relationship with our clients and show we are as human as they are. So turn your faux pas into opportunities for allaround learning. As ICF celebrates our 20th anniversary in 2015, look for this button in each issue of Coaching World. It denotes an article or column that communicates an aspect of ICF’s history and legacy as the world’s leading organization for trained professional coaches. The ICF Core Competencies were developed in 1998 through the efforts of ICF’s first Exam Committee. In the same year, the first ICF Credentials were awarded at our conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA. Today, ICF’s 11 Core Competencies form the foundation for our credentialing and program accreditation processes, as well as set high standards for professional coach practitioners. Each quarter, this CW column explores a tool or technique that coaches can apply in service of specific ICF Core Competencies. Learn more about the ICF Core Competencies at corecompetencies. Coaching World 9 If you re