ICF Core Competency: Communicating Effectively – Direct Communication

The third competency under Communicating Effectively is Direct Communication. What does this mean?  Yes, it means calling a spade a spade but there’s more to it than that so as to elicit a positive outcome for the client.

7. Direct Communication – Ability to communicate effectively during coaching sessions, and to use language that has the greatest positive impact on the client.

  1. Is clear, articulate and direct in sharing and providing feedback.
  2. Reframes and articulates to help the client understand from another perspective what he/she wants or is uncertain about.
  3. Clearly states coaching objectives, meeting agenda, and purpose of techniques or exercises.
  4. Uses language appropriate and respectful to the client (e.g., non-sexist, non-racist, non-technical, non-jargon).
  5. Uses metaphor and analogy to help to illustrate a point or paint a verbal picture.

Source: Retrieved from ICF Core Coaching Competencies

Direct communication is about honest communication. The coach says what she sees, feels and senses, about what’s going on with her client.  Sometimes, when giving feedback that may be harsh or jarring, the coach shows respect by asking the client: “May I be honest with you?” before sharing her observations and perceptions.

In some instances, coaches may feel uncomfortable about telling their client what seems like the obvious truth because they are mindful about keeping the conversation’s impact positive and enabling the client to receive such feedback and act constructively.

One situation, for example, is when senior management may say they want to create a mentoring and coaching culture in their organization and attend workshops to learn the skills. However, the very same senior executives do not walk the talk, while expecting managers reporting to them to coach and mentor their subordinates. Let’s assume that senior management mean what they say, that they do really want to create such a supportive and developmental corporate culture. And, that they didn’t attend the workshop just for show or to go on a junket.

The coach who is working with senior management has the challenge of giving honest feedback about this discrepancy between what they say vs. what they are doing or not doing.  To be helpful, such feedback will need to be given in a manner that fosters self awareness, as well as encourages exploration of what may be hindering the client from engaging in coaching and mentoring, and what actions the client can take to actually mentor and coach their direct reports.

How the coach will communicate directly, the choice of words, the choice of metaphors, the timing, will be influenced by the coach’s knowledge about the client.

Click here to see the 11 ICF Core Coaching Competencies in this blog.

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