Coaching insights for coaches - listening to the inner game
Listening to the Inner Game The extant coaching literature, coaching associations, coaching practitioners and the coaching industry value the competency of listening in coaching. Without listening, the coach would be not be able to understand, explore, respond and move forward the coaching conversation. There is much written about how to listen in different contexts and how to listen as a coach. This Coaching Insight explores the topic of listening from a different though academic angle: what is going on inside the coach's mind when they are trying to listen. To examine this question, I explore the literature to understand the theoretical discussions that relate to this aspect of listening and then use my own experience to see what goes on inside my own head while I coach. From a personal perspective, it is clear to me that my internal dialogue is constantly occurring as framed by my thoughts and feelings. Descartes' Cogito, expresses this as "I think, therefore I am," (Williams, 1978, p.73). In a coaching context, Tim Gallwey focused on one's internal dialogue which he saw as an "Inner Game" (Gallwey, 1988, p.74) that is negative in undermining confidence through "self doubt and condemnation" (Gallwey, 2008, p.17). Annie Kimblin (2009) goes further in investigating the occurrence and effects of the Inner Game as perceived by the coach and the strategies coaches use to regulate their Inner Game. Using Kimblin's four investigative questions in her study, this Coaching Insight is an analysis of my own Inner Game, its impact on my Executive Coaching (Kampa-Kokesch et al., 2001) and effective strategies to manage my Inner Game. The findings delineate how, when and why my Inner Game is negative and positive. Most importantly, it recognises my intuitive inner voice, which is always enriching to my coaching and, as such, is not an Inner Game obstacle, but incredibly valuable inner input from my deeper subconscious. Finally, this Coaching Insight feedforwards (Goldsmith, 2010) to how to best manage my Inner Game for maximising my performance in my Executive Coaching, using the profound insights from this valuable internal metacognitive (Terrace et al., 2009) investigative process. Whilst the findings pertain to an analysis of my experience, they demonstrate how one can apply strategies for exploring one's own Inner Game and evaluate the usefulness of the Game or its hindrance. The analysis also calls for a consideration of a fifth question in addition to Kimblin's four questions for research to further consider the internal subconscious dialogue beyond the Inner Game. I also invite you to consider some questions about your inner dialogue and how it influences your coaching. Finally, this Coaching Insight feedforwards (Goldsmith, 2010) to how to best manage my Inner Game for maximising my performance in my Executive Coaching, using the profound insights from this valuable internal metacognitive (Terrace et al., 2009) investigative process. I also invite you to consider some questions about your inner dialogue and how it influences your coaching.