The Progress Coaching Blog

    Watch What You Say & How You Say It When Coaching

    January 7, 2014 Posted by : Tim Hagen
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    The Language of Coaching:


    We talk often about coaching employees and constantly helping to develop them into superstar top performers.  However, as we have all experienced one time or another, sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it.  If not done in a friendly and open way, employees, or anyone for that matter, could become defensive and closed off.  This concept applies not just for managers speaking to their reps, but also for all instances where constructive feedback is being given.  With this in mind, I wanted to discuss a few “language” tips all should follow in order to make sure your message is getting through.


    1. Your Words: 

    When giving feedback try to embrace phrases like, “what if we” versus “you need to”.  By using just a simple “we” instead of “you” you’ll come across as helpful not condescending.  

    Other helpful phrases could include:

    • Would you mind if I shared an observation?
    • Help me understand…
    • Let’s explore a way to… 

    Phrases to AVOID:

    • Why didn’t you?
    • What you did wrong was… 

    HOW you bring up the issue is sometimes more important than WHAT you bring up.


    2. Your seating arrangement: 

    Come out from behind the desk.  Many coaching interactions take place with the manager behind their desk and the employee in front of it, this can create intimidation.  By sitting next to an employee, you open the situation up to conversation, not just a telling session.  This way you can come to a solution or plan together.


    3. Your Demeanor: 

    Make sure to remove your feelings from the situation, they really don’t matter.  Focus on the needs of the employee and their development, employees will feel more comfortable and less attacked, leaving them open to improvement.


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    About Author

    Tim Hagen
    Tim Hagen

    Tim Hagen founded Progress Coaching, a Training Reinforcement Partner Company, in 1997. His entrepreneurial career began in college leading to positions in sales, sales management, and sales training for small and large corporations, and eventually ownership of several training companies. Tim is often a keynote speaker at companies teaching the value of coaching and conversations in the workplace. He possesses a unique combination of hands-on experience, academics, and innovative insight to solve the industry’s most common challenges specific to workplace performance. Tim holds a bachelor’s degree in Adult Education and Training from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

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