Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Using 'provocation' in coaching - coaching skills

Just come back from an interesting talk given by Sue Knight, doyen of NLP coaching. Sue's topic was 'coaching with humour' but what she really was talking about was using provocation in coaching. Sue made a convincing case that asking the provoking question - playing  the devils advocate - should be a legitimate tool in our coaching armoury.

Clients presumably come to coaching to make some change or improvement in their lives... and that often means mixing things up a bit. A provocative question, delivered deftly with humour and a twinkle in the eye, may take clients into new territories and firm their resolve to act. "What makes you think you've got what it takes... why should anyone listen to you... how long are you willing to tolerate this?" . Tone, as you can imagine, is everything.

Like any powerful 'technique', provocation need to be used with great care, and only when there is enough rapport and relationship between coach and client. In the wrong hands, or badly timed, the provocative question could come across as uncaring or just plain rude. Sue also challenged us to think about what questions we wouldn't ask a client and therefore what limits we might be unnecessarily imposing on the work together. Provocative indeed.