At the start of a coaching journey, coaches are always mindful of the need to let coachees find their own voice and directions. Never do they feel impelled to dictate which way the conversations should flow. Inevitably, while making sure the right questions are being asked, coaches are also constantly leaving ample space for individual expressions to find their way out of the uncertainties, allowing coachees to attain clarity at their respective pace and will. And, almost always too, as professionals, coaches maintain a gentle but firm presence – not overbearing or demanding, yet inspirational enough to enable potential change to take place.
In order to maintain this condition of neutrality, coaches have, at their disposal a set of powerful tools that help them to question, clarify, confirm, listen, keep silent where needed, validate and confirm. These are useful communication tools that serve different purposes at varying levels of engagement. Each has its own ways of engaging the coachees in order to encourage them to respond, react and experience different feelings and sensations that would facilitate the process of self-discovery.
Applying these instruments of engagement with a great degree of care and concern, professional coaches who empathize and motivate, and most of all inspire, would soon see the benefits each of these tools bring towards promoting the well-being of those who seek coaching. Take questioning. By asking the right questions, and by that, I mean questions that serve a purpose and reach beneath the surface of common, everyday interactions, coaches are enabling coachees to dig deep. As I wrote in my book Coaching with R.E.S.P.E.C.T, “the ability to enable buried voices to surface and find their way out of the maze can only come from professional maturity and a personal ability to ask and ask well. Content and style are everything in questioning – they influence such variables as mood, confidence, trust and feelings”. As we know, these are among some of the most important determinants to wellness, the essential ingredients that will enable one to feel emotionally and spiritually connected as well as grounded in order to feel good all round.
Globally, in the past couple of years, with the growing impact of the pandemic on businesses, personal and family lives and not least of well on mental health, recovery programmes and social and health initiatives are being put out to address the issues of well-being or rather ‘unwell-being’ during the crisis. In fact, even before Covid-19 hit the globe, mental health was already being dissected on many fronts. Yet, despite the variety of wellness-related programmes and resources put into action over the years, the workforce still seems to be struggling, now in fact, worsened by the Covid outbreak and its outcomes.
This is where the coaching culture is now increasingly gaining credence among corporates, businesses and professional and non-professional communities. Suggestions that coaching can improve mental health are now increasingly being taken more seriously with occupational psychologists and health practitioners beginning to acknowledge its positive impact on the workforce.
“Coaching is a highly personalized and individualized well-being intervention. It accounts for how different we each are, our lifestyles, preferences, needs, and contexts. It also can be seen as a meta-well-being improvement tool because a coach can help support well-being directly during sessions and can guide you to optimal strategies between sessions (e.g., get better sleep), define what success looks like to you, and keep you accountable. Coaching is powerful because it is a standalone intervention that can adapt to any individual circumstance and meet you where you are. It doesn’t carry stigma like clinical support services and by nature it is designed to empower the individual.” (Dr. Erin Eatough, https://www.betterup.com/blog/coaching-improves-mental-health-research)
A new research from BetterUp Labs to evaluate the individual changes in the personal and professional mental health and wellbeing outcomes of BetterUp Members who completed a coaching programme between July 15, 2019, and June 24, 2020, found that the primary outcome of coaching was positive mental health. Notably, some of the mental well-being dimensions outlined were connected to stress management, self-efficacy, emotional regulation, resilience and self-satisfaction. (New research by Alexis Jeannotte, PhD, Derek Hutchinson, PhD, and Gabriella Kellerman, MD, from BetterUp Labs, https://www.betterup.com/blog/coaching-improves-mental-health-research).
Captain Dr. Shan Moorthi PhD, CMC (IAC)
Developing Leaders as Coaches and Facilitators. Author of ‘Coaching with R.E.S.P.E.C.T’ Inspiring Change & Transformation one conversation at a time