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Fluffy coaching that gets the job done

Updated: Apr 23, 2021

There are two common misconceptions about coaching that I hear a lot.


Number one. ‘Well it’s all a bit fluffy isn’t it?’ ‘Isn’t it people talking about their feelings and trying to work out why they are the way they are?’


Number two. ‘It takes ages.’ ‘It’s a long-term investment.’


Coaching is action focussed and gives a client real and sustainable impact. It’s neither fluffy nor time consuming.


Here’s a true story to prove my point. Just one problem, everything I do is confidential. I’ve changed the client’s name but every other detail is correct and happened just a few weeks ago.


I recently worked with Kate. She had been trying to secure a new role in senior management. Kate was hugely experienced, would always get through the first morning of the assessment centre but would strike out on the interview in the afternoon. She had had feedback from her last interview that she seemed lacking in confidence and didn’t always manage to get her point across. She had experienced this six times.

Kate contacted me on a late Monday morning – time was against her as her next interview was that Thursday. With that in mind, we had a scoping conversation on Monday afternoon to find out a little bit more about what was going on and what kind of support she might need. We worked with each other for two sessions on Zoom. The first was 1.5 hours that Monday evening with a follow up hour-long session on the Wednesday.


Monday’s session quickly uncovered that Kate’s confidence was impacting hugely on her communication – she was rushing to answer questions rather than thinking and constructing her responses, and she was giving long lists of information rather than headlines supported by evidence and experience. The speed and length of her responses was making her appear less confident.


During the first session we explored how Kate prepared for the questions section of the interview and used pausing to help her reflect and get her thoughts in order. I ‘played back’ Kate’s responses so that she could hear areas where she appeared less comfortable and consider where changes could be made. We used the audio feature on What’s App between our sessions so that Kate could record some sample answers and I could give her timely feedback.


On the day before the interview, I opened up our Zoom meeting. Kate was different. This time she was smiling and her relaxed demeanour oozed out of her responses. I also found out that she talks with her hands – this wasn’t at all apparent in our first session as she had been lacking in confidence about her upcoming interview and had been quite static on screen. The more she moved, the more the energy came across in what she was saying. We practised some questions, explored intonation, and talked about how she would prepare the following day.


She got the job! Even more rewarding though, was that Kate talked about actually having enjoyed the interview. She had overcome the confidence hurdle in her mind.


6 interviews. 2.5 hours. 1 job. Not so fluffy is it?


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