Coaching Conversations can be used in several ways to support relationship building and professional development. There is evidence to support that coaching conversations are far more effective than performance review type conversations because they promote partnership and learning. Coaching conversations go beyond leadership skill development by tailoring the application of skills to specific leadership needs.

Here are some guidelines for your next coaching conversation:

1. Give your total attention to the person you are talking with

Giving your total attention means being fully present and engaged in the conversation with your colleague, listening actively without any distractions. This means not looking at your screens or allowing non-emergency interruptions.

2. Ask open-ended questions

Asking open-ended questions means asking questions that cannot be answered with a simple “no” and that encourage your colleague to share more details and insights.

Tip: Start a question with the word “what” or “how”.

3. Paraphrase to validate your understanding

Paraphrasing means restating what your colleague has said in your own words to ensure that you have understood their message correctly.

Tip: Do not underestimate the power of rephrasing. Your colleague may not have heard what they themselves said.

4. Be a true educator

The Latin meaning for education is ‘educare’ which means to draw out that which is within and to nourish. This principle can guide the coaching conversation to help your colleague develop their potential.

5. Ask about your colleague’s goals and then ask again

Asking about your colleague’s goals and revisiting them during the coaching conversation is essential, as goals may change as insights are gained.

6. Give your colleague space to talk more than you talk.

Giving your colleague space to talk means allowing them to express their thoughts and feelings without interrupting or dominating the conversation.

7. Don’t lecture

Instead of lecturing, aim to facilitate the conversation by asking questions and encouraging your colleague to reflect.

8. Get clear on goals and expectations

Understanding your colleague’s goals and articulating what you expect from each other will be crucial to increase the productivity of your conversation.

9. It is not all about you

Remember that coaching is not about your performance as a coach but about your colleague’s growth and development.

10. Consider the system context your colleague is working in.

Understanding your colleague’s context can help you understand the challenges they face.

11. Don’t open what you can’t close

Do not open topics or conversations that you cannot close or resolve. This can create unnecessary anxiety or frustration for your colleague.

12. Close what you have opened

Finally, it is essential to close the conversation by summarizing key points, ensuring that both you and your colleague have a clear understanding of the action steps to be taken.