Courageous Candid Dialogues

Coaching in the business context is not about telling, advising or sharing your ideas, opinions and thoughts. To me, coaching is about holding courageous candid dialogues with people in the form of questions to help them move forward. The use of the word dialogue might be misleading. To some, dialogues mean talking; making statements; stating opinions and expressing thoughts. In fact there is nothing further from the truth. The coach talks very little and he usually holds back his thoughts and opinions on the subject matter. If the coach had spoken most of the time (as you would do in teaching, telling or advising) then you can be assured that what had happened was not a coaching session because little learning took place.

What are Courageous Candid Dialogues? Let us look at the definition of these words.

Courage is defined in dictionaries as brave, valor, guts, nerve, daring or boldness. A coach needs to have this embodiment of this emotional strength in order to coach effectively.

Candid is defined as frank, open, honest, truthful, sincere, blunt or straight. You need a high level of trust in order to get into this level of conversation.

Dialogues are conversations. I have intentionally chosen the word dialogue over conversation (I'm not even sure if there is any linguistic difference at all!) because I feel the former word conveys some degree of seriousness. Coaching is in fact a serious business involving a certain degree of formality in the conversation.

Don't get me wrong here. I do not mean that that coaching has to be conducted in a solemn and serious mood. Many coaching sessions are conducted in a light and candid environment. In fact, it is a desired skill of the coach to be able to hold such coaching conversations. Some degree of seriousness has to be expected because we are talking about helping someone move forward and to be the best that he can be. You just don't walk up to someone and coach him (throughout this book, him also refers to her; used here only for convenience). Coaching is a relationship established mutually by two parties (coach and coachee) to work through issues and challenges in order to help the other move towards a goal.

So why do I call it Courageous Candid Dialogues?

In coaching, you need to be courageous and candid enough do the followings in order to be effective:
  •  With hold your ideas and opinions to the last
  •  Ask difficult questions that might be disturbing to the coachee
  •  Listen beyond your own reality and truth
  •  Bear with discomfort of silence and wait for the response
  •  Grow and change as a result of your own learning
  •  Discover new perspectives that might contradict your beliefs
  •  Bold enough to involve feelings and emotions in the session
  •  Give and receive honest and frank feedback

Change happens when reality is challenged with frank and sincere dialogues and it can impact at both the level of the coach and coachee. I know that frankness and boldness in asking for the truth might put shivers into some managers. "What if he gets angry from my feedback? What if he does not acknowledge it and puts me in a difficult position? What if he sulks and feels bad for the rest of the week? What if he resigns?"

I'm convinced that most people can take the truth when you interrogate their realities. What they find difficult is:

The way we say it (your body language, tonality and words used)

The lack of opportunity given to them to share their perspective

The way their perspective was brushed aside.

When I asked in my coaching workshops to what degree would they like to be given feedback as it is without mincing the situation; almost all would put up their hands. So it is not the truth that people are afraid of (though a minority of people do - pretending not to know); it is the way that it is done. You will read about one method in Chapter 7 on Feedback skills.

"Coaching is about holding courageous candid dialogues with a person using predominantly questions, silence and challenge in order to empower the person to achieve self-awareness and take personal responsibility to move towards a goal."


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I am always impressed with Wai's ability to be with the client and coach them from where they are. He brings clarity and authenticity to his coaching. He is able to reach the heart of the matter with grace and skill.

Joanne Waldman
M.Ed, PCC, LPC, NCC New Perspective Coaching

Wai has a very professional Coaching Presence. He consistently listens on a deep level-he has a true talent here. He moves his client skillfully to Designing Actions, based on the client's focus. He is very honoring of his clients and asks good follow-up questions.

Sheri Boone
MCC, CL Inspired Mastery