When I ask a group to name the skills and qualities of a good coach, usually somewhere near the top of the list will come listening skills.
Most people are aware of active listening skills, those of paraphrasing, reflective listening, rapid repeat techniques etc. These are all good communication skills for use in any walk of life, personal as well as professional relationships. We all know how good we feel when we know we have been listened to!
A Transactional Analyst goes further, listening at a deeper level in order to understand the personality "behind the words". Transactional Analysis (TA) provides the coach and trainer with a set of tools to "unlock the code" of a conversation, and in order to do this the coach focuses on what is being said, and how it is being said.
Grandiosity is a manifestation of discounting: it is where we say things like “It was a huge problem” (when in fact, it was a minor irritation) or “Accounts always get things wrong” (when in fact they make no more mistakes than other departments). Discounting is an internal mechanism, so coaches can only know that a person is discounting, by listening to their language as well as watching their behaviour. “I can’t ask my boss to let me take on that responsibility” might elicit a response of “What is it you think s/he will say?” from a coach who is listening well, and using the TA concepts.
Ego States can be used to “de-code” a conversation. A coachee saying “People like us don’t do things like that” or “They should know better …” alerts us to what might be behind the words. In fact, using words like “shoulds” “coulds” “ought to’s” and “musts” are a clear indication that the Parent ego state is in the executive (control). Hearing these words and knowing some TA theory will inform the coach in their thinking, and in their next intervention.
A coachee may project onto the coach, manipulating you into the Parent place “What do you think I should do?”. Recognising what is happening, staying in the here and now and crossing the transaction (or sometimes not, it depends) may break the attempt at symbiosis.
Drivers have recognisable speech patterns. A Hurry Up speaks really quickly and uses phrases like “Let’s get on with it”. A Be Perfect will use the correct words, and over-detail. A Please People may say “Do you know what I mean? (checking with you – if I am not pleasing you I can change it!). A Try Hard uses words like “struggle” and “trying”. Be Strongs uses passive language …..
Challenging the language used by a coachee can help them to monitor themselves, address their discounting, over-adapting etc.
I call this “listening between the lines” or cracking the code – but we really have to be grounded, self-supervising, clean in our own language ….. and of course, listening to what is being said.
Click he_re for another short blog on minding our language.
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