Reflection 6: Reflection – a great tool for clients too!

Reflection (navy blue-white)Reflection is a powerful tool for a coach and for their clients.

It provides a solid framework within which you, as a coach or mentor, can capture your own learning while at the same time demonstrating to your clients how they can develop the ability to self coach.

If you believe that reflection is a powerful tool for you as a coach or mentor then I am sure you believe it can be equally powerful for your clients. Role modeling the processes that, as coaches and mentors, we use to extend and capture our own learning is a brilliant way to support our clients to learn how to become independent learners. The very best coaches and mentors always include their exit strategy in the contracting process!

We have explored previously how reflective practice is a familiar and well used process that supports the exploration and internalisation of learning in a wide range of areas. It has been integrated into the practice of many professionals and adapted to meet their specific contexts. Schon introduced it in the 1980’s as a tool that could improve practice through facilitating the use of observation followed by reflection on what had transpired. What he called reflection-in-action.

As the primary focus of reflection is on self
. . . it is a particularly helpful concept, as well as a tool for capturing learning, for coaches and mentors.

For you as a coach or mentor, if used systematically, reflection can:

    • provide a framework within which you can understand what is going on for you as well as for your client
    • facilitate your management of the dynamic nature of the interaction between you and your clients
    • support continuous development of your practice – with each individual client as well as more generally
    • support you to manage your own ‘stuff’

For you and your client, reflection can:

    • give conscious access to unconscious as well as conscious learning
    • prompt a holistic, 360º, perspective
    • enable you to return to earlier reflections in order to deepen them and/or to check out progress
    • support you to build on what is working well and why and to identify if there is anything that can be done differently to greater effect

A helpful way
. . . I have found of introducing and integrating reflection into my coaching and mentoring in a natural way is by regularly prompting my client to ask themselves the 2 questions we talked about last week.

• What am I thinking?
• What am I feeling?

The 2 questions that can help you – and your client – to gain a 360° view of what is going on. You will be amazed at how quickly they become internalised and are an automatic part of your conversation.

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