The first lesson any new coach or mentor must learn is how to integrate reflection into coaching practice at every stage of the process.
Traditionally, most people coming to coaching and mentoring have used reflection formally – i.e. intentionally – after an event. Recognising the importance of learning how to integrate reflection into their coaching practice at every stage of the process is the first lesson any new coach or mentor must learn.
The first stage in learning to reflect is to get in touch with those 2 key questions of . . .
What am I thinking?
What am I feeling?
Each of us will find one of those questions easier and more comfortable to ask than the other.
Because these questions tap straight into our psychological preference for using the information we are taking in through our senses in order to make decisions. While some people prefer to do this in a disassociated way through the process of thinking, others prefer to associate with the information through their feelings.
Neither way is more effective than the other in helping you to use the information you have available to make a decision – they are just different. One you will find easy and effortless to do – in fact you will be able to do it almost instinctively. The other you will find you need to make a conscious effort to do. It will take more time and feel more irritating or frustrating to do on occasions.
Which is your preference?
Do you know whether you have a psychological preference for – or, expressed in another way, whether your psychological type is – ‘thinking’ or ‘feeling’?
Why don’t you test it out?
If you had to make the following decisions what would you instinctively do?
• What would you do if a friend lost their job?
• Is somebody criticises your work how do you react?
• Think of a recent important decision you have made – did you weigh up the pros and cons or did you make a decision that felt the right thing to do?
Once you have answered these questions – ask yourself whether your response was more disassociated or associated. In other words was your answer based on a ‘thinking’ response or was it based more on how you would ‘feel’? In our day to day life we learn to use both of these preferences but even then we always use the more natural and comfortable first.
As a coach or mentor it is really important to make sure you are tapping into your thinking and into your feelings when you are reflecting. It is like looking at a re run of a film through a different lens – while you are looking at the same image through each of the lenses the information you gather will be different.
And, as always, what is good for us as coaches and mentors is also good for our clients. I have learnt through experience that those moments of illumination in a coaching session often come after I have asked those key questions of . . .
• what are you thinking?
• what are you feeling?
As the least natural often requires a moment of deep reflection.
If you haven’t tried it already test it out when it is appropriate in your next coaching sessions.
The other very important piece of learning is the importance of reflecting at every stage of the coaching or mentoring process. Before, During and After.
One of the reasons is, as with the thinking and the feeling questions, you will gain a totally different perspective on the process. You will be applying that different lens again.
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