Many trainers are familiar with a simple coaching model such as the GROW model. This is a series of steps that help an individual to identify a goal and then work towards achieving it. The GROW acronym stands for Goal, Reality, Options and Will ( or, is some versions, Wrap-up) and the coach works through these in sequence, using questions to stimulate thinking and choice. There are a wide range of different coaching models but most will have within them these four elements:
A good coach uses a variety of questions to focus on different aspects of the learner’s experience. However, very often the questions are framed according to the coach’s own preferences and thinking patterns. For example, a coach who has very well developed, logical, analytical thinking and who tends to develop ideas in a structured, sequential way, is likely to frame questions that reflect this. If the person being coached thinks in the same way this can a) be very helpful and build trust and easy dialogue or b) reinforce existing patterns of thinking, maintain the mindset of the learner and make it harder to break open new ideas and possibilities. If the person being coached thinks in a very different way, the questions may prove too challenging at first, making it harder to exploit the benefits of the diversity of thinking that will accrue later.
Ned Herrmann’s work on ‘Whole Brain Thinking’ (see http://hbdi.com) offers some insights into the different aspects of thinking that we all use, every day of our lives. These can be summarized as:
In the question set below, I have used one example question from each of these ‘types of thinking’ to illustrate how a coach may use different language and a different question type at each stage in the coaching process. By offering the same basic question, framed in different ways, the coach can improve the chances of the question resonating with the learner and eliciting a better understood response. The questions are listed in the same order (1-4) as the thinking type descriptions above.
Step 1: Establishing a goal
Step 2: Exploring current reality
Step 3: Creating options and generating ideas
Step 4: Deciding what to do and planning the first steps
These are only suggested questions. Study the type of thinking they represent and have fun adding your own ideas to the list! Best wishes,