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The Dangers of Tell when coaching

Thursday 21st September 2017


‘How many times do I have to tell you?’ Heard that before? Maybe you heard it being said, or maybe you said it to someone? Oh no!

When we use tell we’re being ‘teachy’: it’s didactic, it’s an instructional way of getting a message across. In fact, it’s a really inefficient way of embedding new knowledge and expecting it to magically turn into behaviour that sticks. That’s why you have to do it again and again. Because it’s an ineffective way of changing people’s behaviour.

Tell is a one-way street. Tell is trainer-driven: it’s not learner-focused. Tell is about as far away from getting inside the learner’s world as you can get. When we tell there is no ownership by the coachee, no personal responsibility, no inner search for solutions and choices, no referencing to explicitly described standards of performance. There’s just a requirement to comply with rote learning. Tell is a personal development strategy built on assumption – an assumption that the coachee will comply with repeated instruction.

In Continue & Begin Fast Coaching® we encourage the coachee to reflect on their behaviour, to measure their behaviour against a set of explicit standards or agreed aspirations. The standards or aspirations are the reference points, the benchmarks. This is why in Continue & Begin Fast Coaching® we rarely, if ever, provide the answers. We may nudge, we may ask questions, we may refer to the explicit standards or agreed aspirations. We do not tell. Continue & Begin Fast Coaching works so well because it encourages self-awareness and self-discovery.

Continue & Begin is based on ego-strengthening and helping people celebrate their successes, no matter how small or insignificant they may seem. Performance in People is hosting a Programme Support Taster Workshop which includes a module on constructive language patterns. This introduces delegates to a number of opening lines and nudge comments to move away from the nature of telling.  These simple and effective techniques provide rapid change in behaviour, where in the ideal situation, the coachee will do 80% of the talking and the coach, 20%. 

Taken from FAST COACHING: The Complete Guide to New Code Continue & Begin® by Nick Drake-Knight, Pollinger in Print 2016. Reproduced by kind permission of the author and Pollinger Limited.  Performance in People Limited is an authorised and independent reseller of Continue and Begin Limited training materials.

Continue & Begin Fast Coaching® is a registered trademark of Continue and Begin Limited (CBL) licensed by CBL to Performance in People Limited as an authorised and independent reseller of CBL training materials.

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