12 Secrets for Successful Coaching Conversations

You care about coaching because it’s the path to energy, responsibility, fulfillment, and results at work.

You also care because the workforce desires opportunity, purpose, development, mentors, and coaching.

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The ultimate goals of coaching are effectiveness and fulfillment.

Coaches help coachees maximize potential, exploit opportunities, and breakthrough barriers.

12 secrets for successful coaching conversations:

  1. Relax. Lower defenses. Be your curious self.
  2. Identify goals. Define the win.
  3. Discuss the process. What do we expect from each other?
  4. Embrace silence. Don’t feel pressure to fill the silence. Wait a bit longer than feels comfortable. Allow coachees to fill the silence.
  5. Release the need to be an expert. Don’t solve problems or fix people. Remember #1 and relax.
  6. Watch for resistance. Coachees often bump against resistance. Points of resistance are growth points. Take your time. Allow coachees to push into resistance themselves.
  7. Develop next steps. Always identify next steps in behavioral terms.
    • What will you do?
    • How will you know you’re taking a next step?
    • How will colleagues know?
  8. Monitor and explore swings in energy. When energy goes up, ask, “What just happened?”
  9. Practice permission accountability. “What would you like me to ask about next time?”
  10. Be yourself. Don’t use canned approaches unless they express your heart.
  11. Say what you see.
    • Give feedback on both the content and tone of conversations.
    • Watch for patterns.
    • Explore when your coachee looks weak, powerful. energized, discouraged.
  12. Bring up awkward topics. Explore apparent inconsistencies, assumptions, and avoidance.


  1. Fixing and helping. Control your inner fixer. Successful coaches give responsibility and ownership. They don’t take it.
  2. Analyzing like a psychologist or therapist, unless you have training.
  3. Defending personal conclusions and agendas.
  4. Interrupting.
  5. Circling problems. Focus on solutions, not problems.
  6. Asking two questions at once.
  7. Using “why.” Begin questions with how or what.

What tips help manager-coaches have successful coaching conversations?

Which idea is most useful to you?


I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore having Bob Hancox and me come to your organization to develop the coaching skills of your team.