of Telephone Coaching
When I started coaching,
a few years back, I was a firm believer that coaching effectiveness
was bound to a necessary face to face interaction between the
coach and coachee. It is true that in-situ interaction does
bring in its fair share of advantages, among which the possibility
to visually “observe” the eventual silences of the conversation
and “read” subconscious communication patterns such as body language
or facial expressions. Yet, it does carry along some drawbacks,
inclusive of visual distraction, for both the coach and the coachee,
and sometimes, the apprehension we might have toward the look or
judgment of others upon us; which goes against the focused and non-judgmental
nature of coaching.
With the internationalization
of my client base, intimately linked to the frequent international
relocations imposed by my work, I came to interact, more and
more frequently, with distant clients, primarily by telephone.
What was initially a plan B thing to punctually accommodate
existing face to face clients has now developed into a full-blown
approach of its own, with a significant increase of “distant”
clients preferring the flexibility and advantages
of telephone coaching.
in general, and action learning, in particular, has to be
a focused process. Telephone coaching does enable a total
concentration, from both coach and coachee, on what is essential:
COACHING and nothing else.
are removed from the interaction, enhancing the effectiveness of
communicating the message and information across.
the Comfort of your own Safe Heaven.
Coaching sessions are usually short, compared to training, for a
particular reason: INTENSITY. Coaching is a self-reflective process
requiring a sustained effort during the entire session, to analyze,
reflect upon, and formulate actions toward a particular, or several,
situations. It may not always be possible or convenient for clients
to arrange their own schedule during work hours, where on-going
work related issues and distractions might affect their level of
concentration and, overall, their level of implication toward the
coaching process. By making their own arrangements, in terms of
setting for the telephone sessions, clients also guaranty the CONFIDENTIALITY
of the relationship, where no one will have to know the content
and details of their coaching session.
Up. Coaching is a
very intimate process where apprehensions on the coach’s look or
judgment upon the client can have an impact on the depth and quality
of the coaching relationship. The unusual blend of anonymity and
intimacy that comes from telephone coaching helps clients to more
fully open themselves to the coaching process. No TRUST, no effective
coaching. We all, somehow, apprehend the look of people, whom we
are regularly interacting with, upon us (supervisors, employees,
family members, friends, ...), since we are generally bound to regular
social interaction with them. The perceived social or emotional
“impact” of a stranger on the other end of a line, whom we might
never meet, is generally lesser.
Coaching is not Training.
Coaching is not about telling the client what has to be done,
it is rather, through active communication and a structured
action-centered philosophy, to enable and help clients formulate
their own solutions to situations they perceive as problematic
or complex. Clients should expect the coach to be an equal
partner with whom they will be able to bring in as much, to
the relationship, as they receive from it and telephone is
a great equalizer.
the RIGHT Coach.
While the coach’s background is an important factor when selecting
a coach, CHEMISTRY between coach and coachee is what makes
a difference between a productive and an unproductive relationship.
Coaching is about
interpersonal communication, plain simple. Would you undress in
front of someone who does not make you comfortable? Most likely,
not. The same goes with the intimacy of the coaching process.
enables you to connect to the right coach, the one with whom
you feel a real connection with, the one with whom you feel you
will be COMFORTABLE working with, without been limited by geography.
There is absolutely no travelling required for telephone coaching,
no advance planning, no traffic stressing jams… The opportunity
is there to fit the client’s coaching into the busiest of schedules,
when the kids are in bed, during a lunch break or between meetings.
Additionally, look at the bright side, no transport, no emission:
completely environmentally friendly. I am currently working with
coachees located in the US, Europe and Asia, some of whom I
have never met in person, until now. Yet, despite the distance,
telephone coaching enables us to efficiently work together and achieve
optimum results, coaching after coaching, with the added advantage
of flexibility and convenience. And all it takes is a good phone
Writer: Patrick O. Courtois, is the Director
& Principal Consultant at Ming Bai, a consultancy specialized
in Organizational & Individual Development. As a trained Consultant,
and Coach, Patrick operates between Europe and Asia, and brings
forward over 13 years of international consulting and people experience
to a clientele of multinationals, SMEs and individuals. Keep in
touch with him at www.ming-bai.com