Yes, I don’t understand!

by Martin Goodyer (United Kingdom)

When you think about the challenges even top-rated coaches face with their elite clients, what word comes to mind?

If ‘assumption’ was not the first thing you thought of, it would not be too far behind, would it? You see, assumptions are like a banana skin to coaches, assuming of course that you join me in thinking a banana skin is a likely cause of accidents when trodden on and slipping. To share that meaning causes us to be on the same page, otherwise known as ‘in rapport’. However, if the meaning you instantly gave to banana skins was something else, you would still be wondering why I randomly mentioned the ‘outer’ of a fruit, and we would not be on the same page, hence not yet in rapport. Indeed, you will have just experienced this if you found yourself questioning if a banana was actually a fruit!

My point is this, words, and the assumptions we make about their meaning, are the deep dark hole into which many a coaching relationship has fallen. For example, take a conversation in a chemistry meeting: The coach has been briefed, the potential client has had discussions with the HR Director about being coached, and has agreed a set of outline objectives for the coaching assignment.

Coach A assumes the potential coachee just wants to get to know her and learn something about her style. Coach B assumes that being shortlisted means he can dive right in with an example of what’s to come. Coach C assumes from her experience that the potential coachee might not have been as honest with the HRD as has been represented by the brief. Coach D assumes that providing examples of his experience in matters pertaining to this potential coachee’s outcomes is a successful strategy.

So, to recap (think of this like, ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’, and you are about to possibly win a ton of cash but you don’t have any lifelines left).

The successful coach assumes;

  1. Get to know me
  2. Start right now
  3. Question deeper
  4. Share experience

Source: iCN Issue 36  (Using NLP in Coaching); pages 25-26

About Martin Goodyer


At long last (five years of research and study), Martin is about to submit his PhD thesis into the effectiveness of life coaching in the workplace. The conclusions from his work have the potential to significantly change the way organisations approach coaching. If you want to be informed when the book based on this thesis is available, drop Martin a line at