Use coaching dialogues as an integrated part of your leadership

By Arbresh Useini, 15. October 2018

Having coaching dialogues with employees is an integrated part of the modern leadership. It makes it easier for the employees to be heard, and as a leader you’ll be able to better understand what motivates the employees. The coaching dialogue is also an important part of personal growth for employees to achieve their full potential. It is however a difficult field to master, as misunderstanding is an inevitable part of communication.

Sometimes people talk to each other – and don’t communicate – for the only reason that the sentences are formulated differently, even though it is the same that is being said.

Neuro Linguistic Programming is a set of rules to self-development and a psychotherapy form. It’s designed by the connection between neurological processes, language and behavioral patterns learned through experience. Here are five things to be aware of, when doing a coaching dialogue based on Neuro Linguistic Programming.

Approach the coaching dialogue by:
  • Establish rapport – a non-verbal way to communicate
  • Use the representative system to analyze the communication form (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, or Internal dialogue)
  • Seek to understand
  • Use open ended questions
  • Pace-lead to seek solutions.

Rapport – a non-verbal way to communicate

First, it’s important to understand the non-verbal communication with the employees (and others). In their book ‘Stupidity Paradox’, Alvesson and Spicer state that “the most talented executives have a mysterious feeling for a situation”. This involves quick decision making under pressure without much information – and it must be the right decisions. This gives a clear picture of what a leader should be able to do today when it comes to coaching, and it includes knowing the employees and what reaction decisions can cause.

Have you ever been in a dialogue where you noticed something was off, but you couldn’t put a finger on it? Rapport is a way of communicating with your body and eyes. In the English Dictionary it is described as:

a good understanding of someone and an ability to communicate well with them: We’d worked together for years and developed a close/good rapport. She has an excellent rapport with her staff.

Notice the examples the dictionary gives. Rapport is important for a good dialogue to develop a good work environment for your employees. A good rapport helps you get in line with an employee. In a world where digitalization is such a big art of working life, we are so used to e-mailing with strangers where no rapport has been made. A good rapport is created by matching and mirroring the other, in the physical meeting.

From rapport to the representational system – a way to analyze the communication

Our representational system develops throughout our young life and is a way of expressing what we are thinking. The representational system is the way we see, hear or feel the world. We tell by the words we use, what senses we use to identify the world. Therefore, we can spot each other’s representational system by listening to the words that are being said.

Understanding the representational system, will help you match your employee during a dialogue. The representational system is based on the visual, the auditive, the kinesthetic and the internal dialogue.

Here are examples on what statements the different types would say about the same thing, namely spotting an error in a report.

Use coaching dialogue as an integrated part of your leadership

The language is often unspecified in relation to our complex interior with many thoughts. Is the employee a visual, auditive, kinesthetic or internal dialogue? Try answering in the same language system, copy the language the employee talks in. Here are a few examples on how to answer.

Using coaching dialogues as an integrated part of your leadership style

Understand the theme by asking the right questions

Asking open-ended questions and ‘why’-questions improve communication at work. Start with active listening: when your employee mentions the problem about the report you need to reflect on what they are saying. You can repeat what they say by saying: “What I hear you saying is…”.

Open questions lead to more fulfilling answers – by this seek to understand. Questions starting with ‘why’ often lead to insignificant answers. It will be a response based on solutions for now. Replace why with ‘how’ or ‘what’. You will find that the answer becomes different.

Next, you must understand your employee’s worldPerhaps the printer is too far away, and it may seem like a little trifle for you, but it can mean a lot to your employee. Perhaps the employee seems to lose focus when printing.

Pace-lead for solutions

To pace means to ‘meet the state of the person’. Peter Parkes says in his book that to Pace means ‘saying half as much and appear twice as smart’. Start by matching the state of the employee. Meet them at their eye level. It creates trust and the employee gets the feeling that you understand the concern. If they are in a rush, maybe overexciting about something, be the same. The report looks, sounds or feels wrong – see, hear or feel the same at the same level. Leading gives a little bit of self, but here you change the state your employee is in and then take the lead. Ask questions like “And what can you do from here?”. When having the coaching dialogue, it means letting go of the responsibility to find solutions for the employees or teams nor telling what it wrong or right to do. It is about teaching them how to swim.

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