Are your coaching sessions engaging?

A typical coaching session agenda can sometimes sound quite boring when you describe it to someone. Generally, a session starts with a progress review of what happened since last time coaching took place, what would be the priorities to tackle in the current session, coaching those priority items and come up with a plan for what the coachee committed to work till next meeting. This process happens with the coach and client seating for one hour or sometimes even longer. Needless to say, such monotony can wary the client as well as the coach.

Being creative on running a session makes it more engaging as the pace changes, moreover it also fosters faster learning in the coachee. Furthermore, using creative approaches can also help a stuck client to come up with more choices and possibilities. Looking at the coaching literature available, Rogers suggests coaches can use straightforward techniques, such as pausing the session to offer beverages or a quick stand-up for a body stretch exercise. Furthermore, other simple ways to intervene a session with actions such as inviting the coachee for drawing, the use of card sorts, inviting for a walk outdoors and maintaining a whiteboard in the room. However, knowing when to be creative in experimenting new things is vital as emphasised by Palmer & Whybrow saying that:

“Creativity and timing are required on the part of the coach to identify the moment to suggest or enable creative experimentation by the coachee”
Going outdoors for a session can be refreshing

Another example of being creative working towards helping the coachee to face a difficult job interview in the future, the coach might make use of visualization in the form of a role play exercise so the client can rehearse the interview safely, giving more chances for feedback on the coachee and, quite importantly, as mandated by Rogers, a way to have fun and bring laughter to the session.

Finally, for the coaches out there seeking to be more creative in their sessions and wanting to base their approach in proven academic models, one of the coaching approaches that best equips coaches with diverse techniques to facilitate change and growth is neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), requiring coaches to be creative when determining which method to use, as well as when using them. For anyone who is eager to explore and experiment different opportunities, a NLP approach is most likely to be beneficial. Begging for creativity, the base assumption of NLP is that there are no inflexible clients, only coaches who lack flexibility in adapting to the needs of the clients as concluded by Palmer & Whybrow.

How about you? Which creative techniques have you been using? When are you using them? Share in the comments below.

Palmer, S. & Whybrow, A., 2007. Handbook of Coaching Psychology A Guide for Practioners. Hove: Routledge.
Rogers, J., 2008. Coaching Skills: a handbook. 2nd edition ed. Glasgow: Open University Press.

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