3 Practical Ways to Create Reflection in Coaching
Evoking insight for clients is an essential part of the coaching process. Insight occurs when people gain a deep intuitive understanding about themselves or a situation and leads to clarity to solve problems.
John Dewey—psychologist, philosopher and education reformer—is thought to be the founder of reflection as it relates to personal learning. Dewey said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”
Providing opportunity for reflection is smart and important for a client’s learning and insight toward reaching their goals.
If Josh, the regional manager of a large corporation, doesn’t have an opportunity to reflect about how his mid-year check-ins with employees went last year, he may not adjust his mid-year meetings this year to reach his goal of conducting them more effectively and efficiently. If he doesn’t know what worked well, what didn’t work well, what values created dissonance, or that procrastination is his go-to coping behavior, he’ll miss out on the empowerment of insight.
Here are three practical ways to create more reflection for clients.
1) Continually “Check In”
Implement a pre-coaching intake form. Include questions like:
- What do I want to accomplish, change or challenge through coaching?
- What is getting in my way?
- Where do I want to begin?
- When coaching is complete, how will I know it’s been a success?
While facilitating learning and results, use the intake form to reflect midway through the contracted time. Where did the client begin, and where do they feel they are now? Note progress and allow them to reflect if they want to stay the original course or change courses.
This tool helps co-create the relationship between client and coach as well as demonstrates care and attention to the client’s end goals.
To create reflection and insight about progress made over just one session, ask, “Where are you now with this from when we started the session?”
Keep curiously checking in to allow clients time and space to make associations, connections and synthesize insight.
2) Use Scale Questions
If Josh, the manager, conducted a difficult mid-year conversation with an employee, ask, “On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with how the conversation went?”
If he answers 6, for example, take note of the gap and ask him to reflect what would have made that conversation an 8 for him.
If he answers 5, create reflection about what made this an “on-the-fence” situation? Which direction, toward 4 or 6, does he really feel in the situation?
Scaling questions create clarity for clients because upon reflection, each number represents something unique to them. A client’s reflection leads to learning what works, what doesn’t work, and what creates insight into different possibilities for the desired outcome.
3) Distinguish Evidence
In his discovery on reflection, Dewey taught to discriminate between beliefs that rest upon evidence and those that do no.
Allowing clients to explore, “How true is that?” gives them an opportunity to reflect on the evidence of their beliefs.
A client’s beliefs drive action and emotion, so a coach who facilitates reflection of the truth versus limiting beliefs will have clients with greater insights and greater transformation.
- What stories are they telling themselves? (How true are the stories?)
- What rules must they uphold? (How true is each one?)
- What was their interpretation of an experience? (How true is it?)
Asking powerful questions and using specific tools to allow a client to reflect on their experiences increases the opportunity for insight and personal learning as they choose their path to move forward.
What other practical ways do you use to instill reflection with your clients?
Reflect: When it comes to your personal learning as a coach, what have you reflected about recently that has increased your coaching effectiveness?