Monthly Archives: January 2016



Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 6.52.59 pmAn elevator pitch is a classic technique whereby an individual sells something in a very short period of time. This is accomplished in three easy steps:

  1. Create a scene that demonstrates what problem the product solves.
  2. Pre-answer anticipated questions and concerns.
  3. Close the deal with an action step while asking for a commitment.

Individuals should avoid the common mistake of continuing to sell after someone has already bought. They must adopt the posture that they are doing the customer a favor, not the other way around.



Interacting with people from different cultures can be difficult, but it is easier when there is an understanding of other people’s cultures. Cultural intelligence allows a person to understand why people from a certain culture might think the way they do. In his book Expand Your Borders, David Livermore dives into the ten culture clusters that make up most of the world. He expands the cultural intelligence of readers by giving them a small glimpse into the history and cultural values of these cultures.


The Nordics, made up of countries such as Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, value minimalistic, simple, functional designs. The people of this area descended from Vikings, who were successful traders, warriors, and skilled sailors known for their strength, speed, and endurance. In today’s world, one of the most defining ideas of the Nordic culture is Jante Law. Jante Law means, “Don’t think you’re anything special,” and it permeates most of Nordic culture. The idea is to place more of an emphasis on community achievements versus individual success. While more community focused, the Nordic cluster is still individualistic. Everyone has an equal chance to follow his or her interests, and there is a resistance to classify an individual based solely on his or her status.

Politically speaking, the Nordics prefer to come to an agreement through open dialogue and mutual respect. Also, most businesses focus on enhancing quality of life with the belief that society is better if all citizens have well-rounded lives. They are about working smarter, not harder.

Visitors should never be late to a meeting in a Nordic country. Nordics have very limited time to work, so they value punctuality and efficiency. Visitors should try to blend in by dressing modestly and neat. When communicating, they should be concise, clear, and focus on business first, as it can Nordics some time to open up to others.


Out of all the clusters, Anglos are the most spread out, spanning Australia, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, but what ties them all together is their language: English. Oceans also border most of the Anglo countries, reinforcing their most identifiable trait, which is their desire for independence and space. Anglos believe in freedom, the rights of individuals, that all people should be equal, and that people should be allowed to struggle for self-reliance. The Anglo cluster lives by the idea of “quid pro quo,” which means there should always be a give and take. If someone does a favor for someone else, that person can expect a favor in return. Anglos are interested in immediate results rather than long-term 20-year plans, and they place value on short-term outcomes.

Visitors in Anglo countries should be on time and never ask how much someone makes, as it is a very private topic. They should also respect a person’s personal space; if someone is too close, it can be perceived as a threat.


The Germanic cluster, made up of countries such as Austria, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands, shares the idea that rules and policies are necessary to regulate life. Germanics are very slow to change, and they will resist it as long as possible. While they are small in size compared to other clusters, they have huge economic strength due to the high-quality and innovative nature of their exports. The arts also play a vital role in the Germanic cluster, which is known for its poets, novelists, and musicians.

Germanics are individualist. There are a lot of rules, but those rules are meant for the individual. They look down on separating people by status, are very focused on achieving results, and appreciate order. One thing that makes Germanics stand out is the degree to which they go to avoid risk and uncertainties.

When meeting with Germanics, visitors should keep in mind that they love debates, so it may be a good idea to stay away from touchy or divisive subjects. They also appreciate punctuality, and education is highly valued, so visitors should avoid talking negatively about academics.


Some of the countries that make up this cluster are Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Russia, and Serbia. The Eastern European cluster is one of the most diverse. Politics, language, economics, and religion are all very different in each country. However, what unites this cluster are the countless changes and transitions that have taken place in the region over several centuries While other clusters have had to deal with outside forces trying to conquer them, the Eastern European cluster has dealt with conquest and foreign rule much more frequently. The region has also faced many political changes as well, all of which have given its citizens a survivalist attitude.

Eastern Europeans can be a tough and cold bunch to those meeting them for the first time, but once someone is trusted, he or she becomes like family. While they have a survivalist outlook and are competitive, they are collectivist and look out for one another. This is also one of the few clusters where women have authority.

When meeting people from this cluster, visitors can expect them to be very expressive, including kissing, sometimes on the cheek or even lips, regardless of gender. It is helpful and seen as respectful to learn a few words in the host’s language, and visitors should always eat what is served–usually the best food is served to guests, and not eating it could be taken as an insult.


The countries that make up the Latin European cluster, France, French Canada, Italy, and Spain, have a rich heritage, and the Roman Catholic Church has had a huge role in shaping the culture, even for those who do not consider themselves religious. Latin Europe tends to have strong views on food and how it should be enjoyed. Coffee is to be enjoyed and not rushed, and France has very strict policies regarding its bakeries.

The Latin European cluster is paternalistic, and men are expected to act like gentlemen by holding the door for women, paying bills, etc. While paternalism can have negative ramifications, in the Latin European cluster it comes from the idea that those who have more privilege and power should take care of those who do not.

Latin Europeans avoid uncertainty and risk by having very predictable patterns and schedules. Members of this cluster identify themselves more by who they are than what they have achieved. Family name, wealth, and education level are all very important.

If visiting a country in this cluster, visitors should remember that dining out is not a casual event, nor is it to be rushed, so they should dress up a little more than normal and plan to be there a while. When eating, it is important to use utensils for everything and never start talking about business right away.


The Latin American cluster is very similar to the Latin European cluster in that both are very paternalistic, respect traditional gender roles, and have been heavily influence by the Roman Catholic Church. However, countries in the Latin American cluster, such as Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Chile, have been trying to break free of the traditions they inherited when the Latin Europeans colonized them. These inherited traditions are often seen as the cause for the economic and political problems they face.

As a whole, the Latin American cluster is socially conservative but feels the government has a duty to help those who are poor. There is also a huge sense of loyalty to one’s family, and family is considered to be everything. Like Latin Europeans, Latin Americans avoid risk and use religion and family to govern their behavior.

One thing to avoid when visiting this cluster is the American “come here” gesture, which is highly offensive and can be taken as a sexual solicitation. Latin Americans are more expressive and physical and tend to step close when they are talking. It is also helpful to know that time in this cluster does not hold the same value as it does in other clusters, so visitors should be flexible.


The symbol that really represents the Confucian Asia cluster–China, Japan, and Taiwan–is chopsticks. Confucius believed that knives and forks were too aggressive to be on the table, so chopsticks were created to not only replace knives and forks, but also to represent gentleness and benevolence at the same time, the highest values in this cluster.

The Confucian Asia cluster is built upon Confucian thought and focuses on two main ideals: li and ren. Li is the order and tradition found in the culture– it governs etiquette, customs, and behaviors. The behaviors and manners are very formal and symbolic, and there is a reason behind everything individuals do. Ren, on the other hand, is why liis practiced.It is the peace a person gets when everything is in order and done correctly.

This cluster is collectivist and gives preferential treatment to those considered insiders. Confucian Asia is also one of the few clusters able to focus on the long term over the short term. To hear the government making plans now for something that will start in 10 years is not a rare occurrence, neither is a company like Sony making a 100-year strategic plan.

Communication is based off of what a person says as much as what a person does. A lot of attention is paid to where people sit, how they dress, and how something might make them feel. The Confucian Asia cluster prefers to avoid conflict as much as possible and places value on traits such as generosity and kindness.

If taking a trip to visit any of the countries in this cluster, visitors should make sure to pay extra attention to manners and keep sarcasm to a minimum. Also, since those who do not use chopsticks are seen as inflexible or unable to adapt, visitors should try eating with them beforehand if possible.


The countries that make up the Southern Asia cluster, India, the Philippines, and Thailand, are some the most diverse, with not only different religions and cultures, but different languages and traditions as well. What is unique about this cluster is that given members’ tremendous differences, they have been able to live side by side in almost complete peace for centuries, partly because they prefer not to talk about religion and their differences. They are also very laid back and try to have respect for other people’s beliefs. Countries in this cluster have also been able to seamlessly blend together modern and external influences with their own natural environments.

One thing that sets this cluster apart from others is its members’ natural inclination toward service. Guests are always waited on, and it is acceptable for them to show up unannounced. Family is a source of identity, and it is important to respect and consider one’s parents. The Southern Asia cluster is collectivist and status and roles are very clearly defined with people acting accordingly.

When taking a trip to this cluster, visitors should eat whatever is served as food is seen as an extension of a person’s home. However, they should also be mindful of different eating preferences since it varies quite a bit by country. Personal space will most likely be limited because of how extremely crowded the area is. Visitors should try not to get too over-whelmed by all the different cultures.


A major theme that runs through the Sub-Saharan African cluster is Ubuntu, which means, “I am what I am because of who we all are.” There is a heavy interconnectedness that runs all through this cluster, whether in a rural, urban area, political, or business setting. At the heart of Ubuntu is family, and family in this cluster also includes the entire extended family as well as schoolmates, neighbors, and co-workers.

The Sub-Saharan African cluster is also deeply religious and holistic. Stores and businesses often have a religious reference in their name or scripture on their windows. Because of Ubuntu, this cluster is also very collectivist. It is almost impossible for an individual to think of him or herself outside of the group. Success is viewed as something that comes from cooperation, and a business that focuses solely on competitive strategies will most likely fail. The people of this region tend to be more laid back and believe that a person is more than just what he or she does.

Each of the countries that make up this cluster, Ghana, Kenya, and Zambia, is comprised of many tribal groups with their own customs, and conflict is a daily occurrence. While Ubuntu permeates the culture here, it applies only to one’s own group.

A couple things to keep in mind when visiting these countries is that because the people value relationships, it is important to take the time to make small talk before discussing business. Visitors can ask about family and how they are doing. Also, this is a very conservative cluster, so it is a good idea to dress modestly.


Because religion plays such an important role in the Arab cluster it is important to understand the five pillars of Islam:

1. Shahadah: there is only one God and Muhammad is His messenger.

2. Salat: prayer happens five times a day, every day of the year.

3. Zakat: everything belongs to God, so Muslims set aside part of their wealth (2.5%) for those in need.

4. Sawm: Once a year, Muslims have a month-long fast during Ramadan and they abstain from eating and drinking from dawn until sundown.

5. Haij: At least once in their life, Muslims must make a pilgrimage to Mecca as long as they are physically and financially capable.

Not everyone in the Arab cluster is Muslim, there are also Jews, Christians, and even those who are agnostic, but regardless of what religion a person belongs to, Islam still has an influence on daily life for everyone. When it comes to cultural values, this cluster is collectivist and family is the source of one’s identity. Family life here is very patriarchal; men, especially elder men, make the decisions. Large families are symbols of financial strength and speak to men’s virility, so they are quite common.

The Arab cluster tends toward short-term solutions over long-term plans because it is believed that God has planned everything so there is little need for them to plan for the future.

When visiting any of the countries that make up the Arab cluster, Egypt, Kuwait, and Tunisia, visitors should avoid using the left hand as much as possible since it is seen as unclean and reserved for cleaning oneself in the bathroom. Visitors should be respectful during prayer times, and if visiting during Ramadan, follow the traditional customs of not eating and drinking during the day.



Businesspeople need feedback to guide their careers and direct business results. Feedback is given for only two reasons–to maintain or change behaviors. Positive Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 7.15.55 pmfeedback is a milestone that lets employees know they are on the right track. Negative feedback helps them understand how to get back on the right track. To ensure tasks that are done effectively and in a timely manner are repeated, positive feedback must be given to those performing the tasks and appreciation must be expressed.

When people receive negative feedback, they usually become defensive. They will typically go through five stages before accepting the information: shock, anger, resistance, acceptance, and then hopefulness. To reduce a recipient’s defensiveness, the person giving negative feedback can be specific, focusing on actions, consequences of the actions, and alternative methods and behaviors for future performance.


When a businessperson has established a trusting relationship with someone and secured permission to give him or her feedback, it should be done in less than two minutes. Short, direct messages are easier for recipients to hear and act on. The recipients might not like what is being said, but they will appreciate the candor with which it is being said. The Feedback Formula for saying anything to anyone uses the following eight steps:

  1. Explaining the topic of the conversation.
  2. Empathizing with the recipient.
  3. Describing the observed behavior.
  4. Defining the impact of the behavior.
  5. Asking the recipient for his or her observations of the situation.
  6. Suggesting a different behavior for the next time.
  7. Agreeing on next steps and improved processes.
  8. Expressing appreciation by saying “thank you.”



An audience will consider the messenger before considering the message. They want evidence that the speaker is sincere, honest, interested, confident, and in control. A good speaker will dress at least as well as the best-dressed member of the audience and will always face the audience while speaking.

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 7.31.19 pmOn stage, good speakers are the focus of attention; they are their own most important visual aid. They use gestures to clarify and dramatize ideas. In fact, gesturing will help dissipate nervous energy. Types of gestures include:

*Gestures above the shoulders suggest inspiration, uplift, and emotion.

*Below-the-shoulders gestures display sadness, apathy, or condemnation.

*Gestures done at shoulder level suggest serenity and calm.

*Emphatic gestures underline the words being spoken.

*Descriptive gestures help the audience visualize an object or concept.

*Prompting gestures are useful in evoking a response. For example, after asking a question, the speaker will raise a hand to prompt the audience to do the same.

Gesturing should be practiced all the time so that it becomes a habit. Gestures should come naturally, although on stage presenters need to reach beyond their normal comfort zones. Just as they raise their voices to be heard at a distance, so too must they extend and exaggerate their gestures.

How and when to move about is another puzzle for would-be presenters. Movement always attracts audience attention, so it should not be haphazard. The presenter should never move without a reason. Stepping forward indicates arriving at a key point while stepping backwards allows the audience to relax after a point has been concluded. Lateral movements, such as walking across the stage, indicate transitions.



One of the most effective ways to ensure that feedback will be accepted and lead to positive change is by ensuring that the managers delivering it are perceived as trustworthy. Managers can establish their trustworthiness by developing workplace climates that encourage feedback. To create this climate, managers must:

Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 7.13.26 pm*Make feedback a priority. Both positive and corrective feedback should always be framed as an ongoing process that aims to improve the entire organization. The idea that every employee should always know how he or she is doing should serve as a foundation to the organization’s culture. To establish this, managers must set visible examples of feedback on a regular basis and be open to receiving feedback from their colleagues.

*Give positive feedback publicly. Another effective way to build a culture of frequent feedback is to acknowledge positive performances frequently and publicly. This can help quell some of the anxiety surrounding feedback by demonstrating to employees that it is ultimately about personal development. Additionally, the more managers acknowledge good work with positive feedback, the more employees will trust the credibility of their corrective feedback.

*Empower everyone. A culture of feedback requires the participation of everyone, not just people in leadership positions. To make sure that all voices are included in the feedback process, managers must always address challenges in a group context. Employees should not be punished for identifying areas that need improvement. Instead, they should be encouraged to work together to develop solutions. Another key ingredient to a culture of feedback is having clear expectations for teams, goals, and ongoing assignments.



The Coaching Principles focus on a coach’s heart. The Situational Coaching Model focuses on the coach’s mind. It contains six paradigms, described by the acronym GEARDA, to be used in coaching conversations.

The Goals Paradigm focuses on what clients want, either from a specific session or from the entire coaching process. This paradigm is usually the focus of the first coaching conversation, but is also important to every session. From providing progress updates to dealing with unanticipated obstacles, clients are constantly working on goals. When clients achieve their goals or make progress toward doing so, this paradigm also surfaces: coaches need to ask how clients celebrated their accomplishments and how they feel about their success.

The Exploration Paradigm is about helping clients determine how they will reach their goals. Its focus is generating options and ideas and thinking creatively before engaging in analysis.

The Analysis Paradigm concentrates on determining the best and most important options that the Exploration Paradigm generated. In this paradigm, clients explore the pros and cons and implications of their potential choices and evaluate the best ways to achieve their goals.

The Releasing Paradigm deals with identifying and letting go of negative feelings and replacing them with positive feelings. Many people live in a constant state of negative emotion or are dealing with heavy emotional burdens. Either situation creates substantial obstacles to achieving goals even with the best coaching. When both coach and client are aware of these emotions, the client can express them and, if necessary release them.

Through the Decision Paradigm, clients choose a path. Coaches help clients simplify their options and develop criteria to make decisions. Sometimes, clients need help before they feel ready to decide.

Through the Action Paradigm, coaches ask clients what action steps are necessary and when they need to be completed. Coaches encourage clients to draw up action plans, which include priorities and a timeline as well as accountability systems. Another aspect of the Action Paradigm is creating support structures. Most coaching sessions should end with at least a few minutes in the Action Paradigm, during which the client commits to next steps.

Some conversations may necessitate just two or three of these paradigms; some may necessitate all six. The best coaches seamlessly move from one paradigm to another according to client needs. For example, if clients have begun taking action but are constantly running into obstacles created by negative emotions, the coach and the client will need to return to the Releasing Paradigm in order for the client to continue to make progress. Sometimes, a lack of good options does not become clear until the client is in the Analysis Paradigm. In that case, it is best to return to the Exploration Paradigm before proceeding to the Decision Paradigm.

Coaching is not a step-by-step process, so coaches need to practice using all six paradigms but also remember not all six will be necessary in every session. With sufficient practice, coaches will be able to intuitively apply the right paradigm as well as shift seamlessly among the six paradigms.

10 Steps – Coaching



Coaching may be a more common occurrence in the workplace, and more people have a general understanding of what coaching is, but most probably do not understand the inner workings of the coach-coachee relationship. Coaching is more than patting people on the back and giving them enthusiastic encouragement; rather, it is a management tool that can help employees realize their career aspirations.

For someone who is beginning a relationship as a coach for one of their employees, a colleague, or for someone outside the workplace, there is preparatory work that must be completed prior to the first coaching meeting. Some of that work involves learning more about the coaching process, but much of it involves an internal analysis of motives and skills.

Step One: Prepare Yourself for the Coaching Role

Knowing what coaching is–and is not–is part of the preparation for coaching. Coming to an understanding of what coaching is all about helps new coaches determine how to approach the role. Taking a one-size-fits-all approach is not effective due to the diverse interests and experiences of people in the workplace and because of the many circumstances where coaching can occur.

Coaching can be a formal or informal relationship which occurs between co-workers, managers and their direct reports, or it can be a formalized relationship between a professional coach and client. Despite the different conditions for coaching, the fundamental principle that it is a meaningful and accountable relationship created through routine one-on-one conversations is universal to all coaching relationships.

The author believes in allowing “much latitude for defining coaching,” but she also believes there are some definite things that coaching is not. Some common coaching myths are:

  • Coaching is giving advice. Coaches actually ask a lot of questions and help people gain an understanding of their own ideas, so that they gain a new awareness of themselves.
  • Coaches have value because they have experience in the coachee’s area of interest or expertise. In many instances the best coaching comes from someone who has an entirely different experience. The value of coaching lies in helping someone understand their own knowledge and experiences in order to use those effectively in current and future circumstances.
  • Coaching is just like therapy. While deep issues are discussed and emotions may be a part of the conversation, coaches do not analyze the past to determine how their coachees came to be in their present circumstances. The goal is to look at where someone is and determine how they can get to where they want to be.
  • The coach drives the coaching process. The coachee is actually the one who sets the agenda for meetings and works in concert with the coach to come up with assignments. When the coach calls the meetings, determines the agenda, and crafts the assignments, the coach is acting like a boss rather than a coach.

Knowing what coaching is not is one way to understand what makes a good coach. Because the relationship is a partnership, a good coach must listen actively; understand how to ask probing, open-ended questions; refrain from giving advice; understand how to partner to set goals and create meaningful assignments; and help establish accountability on both sides of the coaching relationship.

Another part of preparing to coach is understanding the desire to coach and the benefits of coaching to the coach. It is important to establish the motivations behind the desire to coach “so that when the going gets tough, when it is hard to understand how to fit coaching into an already busy schedule” there is a list of benefits that will serve as motivators. The many benefits that coaches can reap include career advancement, becoming a better communicator, promoting a more productive workplace, and improving leadership skills.

Step Two: Remove Personal Obstacles

Once the coaching role and benefits are understood, coaches need to address any personal obstacles to being a coach. This is a very important step and might be one that many are tempted to skip. According to the author, “This is one of the steps that will set apart an effective workplace coach from someone who simply does a good job creating relationships and motivating enhanced performance.”

One of the obstacles to any relationship, coaching included, is being too busy to notice what is going on. The act of noticing is the first step in overcoming the obstacles to coaching. Take some time to sit quietly and reflect about becoming a coach. Some of the thoughts that might occur are questions about one’s ability to coach and about possessing sufficient skills to be an effective coach.

These self-doubts can be addressed only by examining them to determine their origins. For example, cold feet about having the ability and expertise to coach might actually stem from the common coaching myth that a coach is an expert who drives the process. Remembering that a coach asks questions and is a partner in the process might help quell that self-doubt.

Another way to address obstacles to coaching is by entering into a coaching relationship as the coachee. Being on the other side of a coaching relationship adds credibility and shows true belief in the power of coaching.

Step Three: Create the Coaching Relationship(s)

Once potential coaches address their own self-doubts and obstacles, it is time to study and approach the coaching relationship. Workplace relationships are part of what promote happiness and productivity at work. A workplace coaching relationship is different from the average work relationship, because it is a unique type of relationship that requires special care and attention ranging from “choosing the right coaching partner to establishing interaction expectations.”

Whether or not the coaching relationship is formal or informal, it is one that is chosen by both parties as a designed partnership where explicit decisions are made about how and when the interactions will occur. It is a relationship where the “pulse is checked continuously” and where the roles of both parties are pre-defined. One person is seeking to reach a goal, and the other is helping with the quest to reach the goal.

For those who are not professional coaches and are looking to establish a coaching relationship with a colleague, the next step is finding the coachee. Some guiding questions that can help determine who to coach include:

  • Wait for potential coachees or recruit/approach someone? Some coaches might wait for someone to approach them with issues or questions, while others might seek out employees or colleagues who can benefit.
  • Coach employees or colleagues? Some coaches prefer to work with a direct report or someone within their department, while others prefer those who are further removed from day-to-day contact.
  • Coach high-potential employees or those who have performance issues? Some coaches choose to work with employees who show potential for increased responsibility, while others prefer to work with those not performing up to expectations.

Regardless of what criteria a coach uses, the coachee must have the desire and commitment to enter into a coaching relationship.

Once two parties have decided to work together, it is time to begin building the relationship. It is important to set clear boundaries and expectations and to begin to establish trust in the relationship. It might help to begin the relationship with each person talking about their definition of and ideas about coaching. The author also suggests that this is the time to talk about how to handle issues that might arise in the coaching partnership. This will help create a channel of communication if there are difficulties further down the road. And, the beginning is also the time to establish some criteria for knowing when it is time to stop working together.

Step Four: Find Out About the Coachee

Just as coaches must know themselves and understand their motivations for coaching, it is critical to the coaching process that the coach understands the person being coached. This information serves a couple of purposes for the coach. First of all, it allows the coach to understand the coachee’s behavior, and secondly, it helps to establish the trust and rapport between the two parties.

Some coaches accomplish this task by using a personality typing instrument or profile. These tools help to define typical behavior patterns and stumbling blocks. Knowing these personality patterns helps a coach anticipate where hang-ups might occur.

Other tools can help to identify people’s learning styles, and this is knowledge that can enhance the coaching relationship as well. It can be a help to know if the coachee learns better through quiet self-reflection or through group relationships, and whether visual, verbal or other stimuli best ensure that information is absorbed and understood.

The coach might also seek information from others by asking the coachee to identify a variety of people from work, and perhaps outside of it, whom the coach can talk with. Insight from others can give the coach a broader perspective than might be gained from just the coaching sessions alone.

This learning process is one that will go on throughout the relationship. During meetings, coaches observe a lot that helps them to better understand the person they are coaching. The author believes that a “powerful way to learn about the coachee’s style and impact is to observe the coachee at work.” It helps to further understand behavior by seeing how time is used, interruptions are handled, and what interpersonal skills are displayed.

If observation is used, the coach should schedule time to discuss the observation and provide feedback. Use the sandwich technique to debrief by giving a piece of constructive feedback sandwiched between two positive items or strengths.

Other things that are helpful for the coach to know about the coachee are values, and skills and achievements. Some of this information will come out in any personality instruments that are used, in conversations with others, and in observation. Another way might be to engage in a fun question and answer session that can also serve as an ice-breaker. Coaches can pose such questions as:

  • If you could hear a speech from a leading figure in any field, who would it be?
  • What would a movie about your life be called? What songs would be on the soundtrack?
  • What would a stained glass window in your house depict?
  • What one object should you throw away but never will?

This discovery process is important for establishing the coaching relationship, and it helps both parties make a deeper connection.


Once the preparatory work for coaching is complete, the ground rules for the partnership have been established, and the coach has gathered information about the coachee, it is time for the work to begin. In order to ensure a productive partnership, both parties will need to agree on their coaching goals and build their partnership around solid work during and between coaching sessions.

Step Five: Agree on What Should Be Accomplished

Both the coach and the coachee need to agree on the focus and goals for the coaching relationship. There are many topics and skills that coaching can focus on, such as career path, money management, or leadership, just to name a few. Once the focus is established, it is time to set the goals. In a coaching relationship, goals serve as reference points to be checked periodically. Progress towards goals helps provide proof that the coaching relationship is working.

Many will use SMART goals. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. The author uses what she calls the 3-T goalsbecause she feels that a personal tie-in is missing in SMART goals. 3-T goals are Tangible, Time-bound, and Tied to something that matters personally or professionally.

Setting 3-T goals requires coming up with concrete, measurable or tangible, tasks. For example, arriving at work 20 minutes earlier or speaking up three times in a meeting. Some goals are harder to measure or make tangible, such as becoming more trusting. Tying a sliding scale to goals like this can make them measurable. For instance, when the goal is set, coachees determine their current trust level on a scale of 1-10. As coaching progresses, they periodically re-rate themselves on the same scale to determine if they have become more trusting.

The time-bound piece of the goal setting helps to provide motivation as well as a set period for action. An example of a time-bound goal is stating that in two-months the coachee will have a system for following up on calls and letters in place. Adding the phrase “in order to spend more time at home,” makes this a goal one that is also tied to something important.

Setting goals is just the first part of the process. It is also important to set up an action plan or a road map for meeting the goals. Some may set up charts or continuums to show progress, while others might opt for a self-evaluation prior to each coaching session, which can serve as an agenda for the upcoming meeting.

Step Six: Using the Power of Possibility

Often times the goals that are set might be modest, or they might appear to be stretch goals but in reality are not. One of the ways that coaches can really benefit their coachees is by helping them “dream and plan bigger than they think they can.” This helps reinforce the idea that it is possible to reach established goals, or possibly even move beyond those goals. Coaches can use the skill of championing to help reinforce this power of possibility.

Championing may require coaches to push their coachees to go beyond their comfort zone. After all, as the author points out, “People do not need another protector; they need someone who will inspire them and expand their possibilities.” A coach does this by examining the goals and dreams that are presented by the coachee and exploring ways to make them bigger, as well as looking for places where the coachee might be holding back.

One caveat to championing is not to take it too far and turn it into an agenda, or to use it to imply that it is wrong to do anything other than go for the biggest dream. After all, the dreams belong to the coachees, and, if they choose to follow a different path, that has to be okay. “Championing” the dream is simply letting them know it is okay to go for it.

Acknowledging is another skill that coaches can use to help reinforce the power of possibility. Acknowledging is like holding a mirror in front of a person and helping that person see the best traits in him or herself. Acknowledging goes beyond recognizing accomplishments and successes and involves revealing a person’s core whether that “be a good person, a powerful person, a thoughtful person, or a smart person.” When people see themselves in a positive light they are apt to accomplish more.

One technique for helping coachees see their possibilities is through the use of thoughtful questions. One reason for this is that questions tend to get past people’s defenses and prompt them to devise answers that work for them. Open-ended, curious, bold, and often naïve questions are the most powerful. These are the questions that get at the heart of the matter. Examples include “why” questions, “why don’t you…” questions, or questions about details that provoke thought and internal analysis.

Listening subsequently becomes a very important skill for coaches. Coaches can improve their listening by improving their skills of active listening. Active listening involves:

  • restating the answer briefly
  • mirroring the essence or most important points of the answer
  • hearing and understanding both the content and emotion in the answer When coachees know that they have been heard, they will be open to sorting out their feelings and working on solutions.

Step Seven: Partner to Enhance Growth Between Sessions

The exploration and conversation that go on in a coaching session is important, but so is the work that goes on between coaching sessions. Coaching homework is important because coachees have a chance to work on skills and goals on their own, to make their own discoveries about themselves, and to find solutions independently. The homework also serves to keep the coaching sessions in the forefront rather than allowing them to fade into the background between coaching sessions.

Coaching homework assignments differ greatly from those given in school, as both parties partner to create the assignment, and in fact, the coachee should take the lead in determining assignments. The coach can and should suggest assignments that would be helpful, but it must be okay for those assignments to be turned down or modified.

Assignments might be work-related projects, answering some thought-provoking questions, trying out a new mantra, or anything else that will help with meeting the goals that have been set. Coaching assignments may not always be active. They might involve thinking through an issue or mentally preparing for a tough meeting. The bottom line is that the assignments must be compelling and meaningful.


Coaching relationships require total honesty on the part of both parties, and the topics explored can be ones that are uncomfortable to one or both parties. Sometimes this can lead to tension and cause problems in the relationship between coach and coachee. Keeping the momentum going and the relationship working can call upon some special skills.

Step Eight: Realign When Things Go Bad

There are times when a coaching relationship is not running as smoothly as it could. It is incumbent upon the coach to recognize the situation and to analyze it. Here are a few signs:

  • It is getting difficult. Each session is a struggle that is dreaded.
  • The agenda keeps changing. The coachee is not focusing and new issues surface each week.
  • The sessions are sounding like broken records. The same issues are being discussed with no resolution.
  • The discussion is superficial. The conversation only skims the surface and the coachee is uninvolved.
  • Resistance and defensiveness are a part of the sessions. Although formerly engaged and willing participant, the coachee becomes defensive and challenging.

The skill of listening, particularly the “skill of listening to what is not being said,” is important in these situations. The author believes that the coach must look at the conversation “from the fly-on-the-wall vantage point. From that distance the coach can see how the third party in the room is doing–that is, the relationship.”

Relationship realignment starts with the coach. Go back to that self-examination done in preparation for coaching and make sure that any of the obstacles identified there are not to blame. Next, examine the relationship with the coachee. Are there any angry or negative feelings? If so, analyze them. Is there professional or personal jealousy? Is it an issue of respect?

If there are issues that cannot be overcome, then it might be time to sever the relationship and suggest a new coach. If there is not a reason to sever the relationship, then it is time to talk with the coachee. Go back to the discussion from Step Three about handling the relationship if it should turn difficult.

It is important to keep this meeting positive and to make sure the coachee understands that this relationship is important. Explain that this is not unusual in a relationship of this type, and that exploring the underlying issues might produce some positive results. This will help steer the focus away from blame and turn it towards making a more positive relationship.

Some common reasons which may account for this rough spot include:

  • the coachee may have forgotten that the coach is not supposed to provide all the guidance and answers
  • the coachee has a glass-half-empty attitude and needs to be reminded more frequently of successes
  • the coachee does not want to deal with emotional content
  • the coachee lacks confidence, or is overconfident

Some ways to approach solving the identified issues are to ask the coachee what kind of support would be helpful; review milestones that have been reached; and provide resources for any issues that are identified.

Step Nine: Maintain Positive Changes

When the majority or all of the major milestones have been met, it does not necessarily mean that it is time to end the coaching relationship. The ground must be set so that the changes can be maintained. Think about Weight Watchers: when someone reaches their goal weight, they move from regular membership to lifetime membership, which is designed to help reinforce the habits and keep the weight off. It is similar in coaching.

Both coach and coachee will know they have reached this step when there is not much to discuss from week-to-week and when the goals shift from meeting new challenges to remaining in a positive productive place. People moving into maintenance realize what they have accomplished and that those accomplishments took a lot of work. However, they also may be afraid that they cannot maintain or move ahead on their own.

Exploring this fear is part of the process. Try to determine if the fear is imagined or real. If it is imagined, explore techniques such as positive self talk or a mantra to help the coachee move beyond the fear. If the fear is based on real factors, like negative colleagues or bosses, then set up action plans that can be implemented as necessary.

Another technique for helping a coachee stick with positive new habits is celebration. Celebrations in coaching can be festive, but they might also be sober reflections on what has been accomplished. These occasions will affirm the work that has been put in to the process and provide motivation for continuing.

It might be helpful to create a stretch assignment. For example, if learning how to trust in order not to micromanage was a goal that has been achieved, one could ask that those same techniques be put to use in other areas.

Scheduling periodic follow up sessions, either in person or via phone, in which the coachee checks in is another way to ensure that the change is maintained. At this point the sessions will probably be shorter and further apart, and it might be helpful to identify a colleague or friend to provide support between sessions.

Step Ten: Complete the Coaching Cycle

Coaching is a relationship that is designed to end. Its intent is to create independence and to encourage individuals to find their own fulfillment.

The four parts to ending a coaching relationship are:

  1. Noticing a sign in the coaching relationship, or recognizing that something is changing
  2. Learning, or incorporating the successes and failures during the relationship
  3. Celebrating, or acknowledging how each has contributed to the relationship and to the outcomes
  4. Intention setting, or being clear and purposeful about what comes next

Options should be discussed at the end of a coaching relationship. Will the sessions be stopped completely and immediately or will there be a transition period with meetings occurring less frequently? Is there a possibility for a recontracting of the relationship in the future with new goals and objectives? This closure conversation can help cement the learning that has taken place.



By identifying the right moments to offer feedback, managers can be more effective in facilitating positive organizational change. Examples of some of the best times managers Screen Shot 2015-08-12 at 7.10.56 pmcan give others feedback include:

*When someone’s good work, success, or resourceful behavior deserves recognition.

*When there is a high likelihood of improving the recipient’s skills.

*When the recipient is expecting feedback.

*When a problem cannot be ignored any longer because of its negative impact on team members or the organization.

It is equally important to recognize the times when giving feedback could be detrimental to the recipient or overall situation. Managers should avoid giving feedback:

*When they do not have all the information about a situation.

*When the feedback involves factors that recipients cannot change easily.

*When recipients are in a highly emotional state or have just gone through difficult experiences.

*When managers are not feeling calm or patient.

*When the feedback is based on a personal preference rather than an actual need for more effective behavior.

*When managers do not have solutions to accompany the feedback and consequently cannot help recipients move forward.

Participants in Training

Participants in Training

To ensure that training goes smoothly, trainers must anticipate, identify, and engage the different participant personalities within their groups. While the average group of participants has a fairly diverse background, there are four common personality types: 1. Partier. The partiers enjoy socializing with other participants. They are often a source of support for trainers and love to participate when the content grabs their attention. 2. Sponge. This highly participative personality type tends to soak up the material. With high levels of enthusiasm and energy, these participants are often assets to trainers. 3. Shopper. Shoppers tend to look for the best ideas. They sometimes will challenge the trainer. To engage shoppers, trainers must link the content to its day-to-day practical applications. 4. Convict. The convicts are only at the training session because it was mandated by their organizations. They are often disruptive or refuse to participate. To engage convicts, trainers must explain the relevance and benefits of training, listen to their concerns, and monitor their performance. No matter what personality types they encounter, trainers must always be working to mitigate unproductive behavior and keep the group focused on the right issues. To reinforce engagement and prevent participants from getting off topic, trainers can assign group members different roles, such as team leader, scribe, and timer. Other engagement techniques include making eye contact, varying tone of voice, using props to illustrate points, and designating a time for questions and answers.



I have already discussed in my previous Blog about Persuasion and its types: Let me elaborate :


The first 30 seconds of any speech are the most important: In those crucial seconds, the audience forms an opinion about the speaker. Therefore, speakers should not waste that precious first half minute stating what they plan to say or how long they plan to speak, thanking a long list of people, or babbling about how excited they are to be at a particular event or addressing a particular audience.

Good communicators approach the beginning of their speeches the way a journalist approaches the beginning of an article. They begin with their most compelling information and deliver it in a way that has the audience wanting more. An effective opening will be concise to convey information quickly, will feature a story or a provocative statement, and will possibly surprise the audience. It should contain the kind of information that the speaker would share with a friend when he or she says “You will never believe this” or “Did you know …” Speakers may wish to try out their headlines on friends or family to be sure the information grabs their attention before using the headlines in a public setting.


The best speakers are storytellers who are able to paint pictures with words. Like renowned director Martin Scorsese, they create interesting visuals. They give the audience lots of detail, but they keep the story tight and concise. For most speakers, telling a story means relating an anecdote that illustrates the main point. In a speech, good stories follow a formula. During the build, the speaker sets the scene, introduces the characters, and hints at the conflict to create a sense of anticipation in the audience. The speaker then delivers the payoff for the audience, and pauses briefly to let the audience digest it.

Adding verbal imagery to a presentation might take a little imagination, especially when speakers are working with dry, number-laden material. One method is to use an analogy, such as following a statistic of how many people die from a particular disease annually by comparing that to how many people fit in a particular stadium or live in a city the listeners know. Not only can an analogy keep the audience interested, it also adds context and helps people better understand the message.

While having good stories is important, so is a speaker’s delivery. To improve a story, a speaker should:

*Practice the story with family and friends, gauging their reaction.

*Vary the pitch, pace, and projection while telling it.

*Eliminate needless information and know how to shorten or lengthen the build in response to the audience.

*Believe the story is interesting in order to tell it with conviction.


To have the most impact, messages should be boiled down to their essence, not watered down with extraneous words to fill time. The speaker should have a definite start and ending in mind and be able to expand or contract what comes between those as needed. Practice and editing are the keys to keeping messages rich but succinct.

McGowan offers advice on using the pasta-sauce principle in several situations:

*When giving a speech, the speaker should keep the presentation to a maximum of 18 minutes and create mini-segments within the speech to keep the audience’s attention.

*When answering questions in a panel discussion or media interview, a speaker should be prepared with a punchy statement and a story or data to back it up for each topic he or she expects will arise.

*When pitching a new client, people should spend three times as much time talking about the client’s needs as they do talking about themselves.


Verbal tailgating is the practice of speaking so quickly that the brain cannot stay ahead of the mouth when a person is deciding what to say next. As the analogy suggests, the results can be a crash with embarrassing or even painful results. Speakers must slow down and think through what they intend to say before saying it.

Speaking slowly has several advantages:

*Silences and pauses help hold an audience’s attention.

*Slower speech makes a person sound more confident, while rushed speaking sounds apologetic.

*A slower pace indicates that speakers are engaged with the conversation, and are listening to what others say and pausing to consider it before commenting.

*Speaking slowly prevents speakers from having to verbally backspace and clear up what they intended to say.

People have a tendency to talk too fast, particularly when nervous. To counteract that tendency, speakers should be careful to slow down when they are working with new ideas or presenting important information. When individuals are unsure of what to say, they should pause while they search for the right word. People should also learn to listen more and talk less, as this makes others feel valued and gives a speaker time to think before continuing on.


Good speakers convey conviction for their messages, no matter how uncomfortable they are speaking in public. Individuals can show enthusiasm for a message through their voices, tones, and body language. Their words cannot indicate any sort of equivocation, so speakers should avoid phrases such as “I think,” “kind of,” or “I will only take a few minutes of your time.” Speakers should also avoid clichés and using too much industry jargon. While being straightforward and clear is a good way to convey messages, speakers must not oversimplify them as if they are speaking to children.

In an interview or panel discussion, speakers might be challenged in a way that can shake their confidence. In such a situation, speakers should validate another person’s opinion but not let themselves be bullied into agreeing with it. Finding some sort of common ground, however, even if it is just a small point, can help ease the tension.

Because body language is such an important component in showing conviction, speakers must learn the correct way to sit or stand with conviction. The standing power position, for instance, requires individuals to stand straight with their shoulders back, their arms bent at the elbow, and their hands resting near their belt. In this position, speakers keep their hands under control, limit their gestures, and keep their feet still.


Someone involved in a conversation should be interested in what the other people present have to say. Being a curious, active listener is crucial to being a good conversationalist. Individuals who display curiosity are better able to find common ground with others, and people are drawn to those who are generous in listening to them.

When meeting with someone for the first time, such as a potential client, it is a good idea to learn as much about that person as possible beforehand. That way, a speaker can be prepared with topics to discuss as ice breakers and have some idea of what questions might generate additional conversation. During the conversation, there should be lots of give and take, with the speaker listening and asking questions of others at least half the time.

Body language is important for conveying active listening. Because people often appear bored even if they are paying attention to a conversation, McGowan recommends developing a listening expression. A person should have a quarter smile on his or her face while listening; that expression makes a person look confident, honest, likable, and curious. A smile that is too big looks like it is being faked.


Don Draper, a character on the TV series Mad Men, frequently says “If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation.” The trick for speakers is to subtly change the topic so it plays to their strengths. Some speakers (including many politicians), are far too obvious and appear to read from a script, give a non-sequitur answer to avoid a question, or swerve widely from one topic to another. The best way to detour a conversation is to widen the topic, guiding it away from the danger zone to safer territory that is still related to the subject.

With proper preparation, speakers should be able steer the conversation fluidly. Whether individuals are preparing for a job interview or a meeting with the media, they should try to determine what questions or topics are likely to arise. During the interview, a speaker should pay close attention as the interviewer begins talking, because the introduction to the question gives contextual clues about what is coming. While the interviewer is finishing the question, a speaker should be mentally framing his or her answer by determining:

*The point he or she wants to make.

*The story or data that will illustrate that point.

*The first five words he or she wants to say. Having the first few words in mind increases a speaker’s confidence.


Ad-libbing is often the fastest road to regret. In addition to preparing for scheduled speeches or media interviews, McGowan advises people to be prepared for just about any situation in which they are likely to speak to others. For example, all people should have a few stories ready for typical questions they will encounter at a networking or social gathering, such as why they chose their particular careers.

In situations where individuals will be meeting new people for business, such as the first meeting with a potential client, they should do research on LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to try to find common ground to use as a conversation starter. Someone worried about talking to the boss at the company’s holiday party should be prepared with a few topics that are comfortable ground, such as how well the boss’s favorite sports team is doing.

People in hot-button industries might find themselves cornered at events, and they need to be prepared to handle questions on controversial topics. In such instances, it is a good idea for them to have examples and data about those topics ready to use. If things get heated, they should create the impression they would like to talk about the issue but really cannot, possibly implying that the company or its lawyer forbids it. Speakers should stay calm, use positive wording, and try to shift the focus to something less controversial.


While McGowan developed his seven principles of persuasion based on what makes a good television sound bite, many of the principles work in a wide variety of uncomfortable situations, including those encountered on the job. In all situations, speakers who combine fairness, honesty, and empathy are more likely to see good outcomes result from their comments.

When parting ways with a business associate, for instance, an individual should express that the decision should not be taken personally. The speaker should complement the other person on one of his or her strengths to lessen the blow, and allude to a future where both people do well going their separate ways. When reprimanding an employee whose work is not up to standard, an effective method is to ask sympathetic questions to find out why, and to act like a mentor giving advice rather than a boss giving an ultimatum.

Several of the principles come into play when individuals are attending a meeting. They should pay attention (the conviction principle), maintain a warm, engaged expression (the curiosity principle), and keep their comments brief and relevant (the pasta-sauce principle).

Job seekers facing the dreaded “tell me about yourself” question in an interview should focus on the headline and Scorsese principles. In answering the question, they should put forth the most important information first, and use stories filled with visual details to illustrate their strengths. When interviewers hear three to five memorable stories or examples from one job candidate, they are likely to remember the person.

People are often asked to give speeches or presentations at work, and being nervous about such public speaking is very common. To prepare, McGowan suggests writing an outline on note cards, then giving a practice speech without writing it out. Before transcribing a speech, it is helpful to record it (and then listen to it) so it will not sound too stilted.

To overcome jitters, a speaker should:

*Practice the beginning over and over in order to start strong and build confidence.

*Exercise on the morning of the speech to burn off nervous energy.

*Arrive at the venue early to check it out and meet people.

*Take deep breaths at the lectern before starting the speech.

*Speak slowly.

*Use pauses, pitch changes, and different pacing to hold the audience’s attention.