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The Art of Coaching

By Atip Muangsuwan

The Art of Coaching

“Coaching is not asking questions. If it is just asking questions, then anyone can be a coach and the machine (AI) can also be a coach.”

Atip Muangsuwan

Recently, I talked with a friend and he has known that I’m a coach. Then, at one point in our conversation, he asked me, “Coaching is… asking your client with powerful questions that provoke their fresh thinking, right?”

I gave him a big smile and responded, “That’s just one of several key elements of coaching! And if coaching is just about asking powerful questions, then anyone can be a coach, and the machine or AI can be a coach, too!”

Effective coaching is not done by just asking questions! That’s why today I’d like to touch on coaching mastery and the art of coaching.

Based on my perspective and experiences, there are 3 levels of Coaching Mastery:

Level 1: “Coaching the what” Level

It’s about coaching a client around their issues, challenges, problems or dilemmas and/or their goals, dreams, visions, aspirations and wishes.

Level 2: “Coaching the who” Level

It’s about coaching a client around their feelings, feelings about feelings, perceptions, beliefs, attitudes, assumptions, subjective realities, values, expectations, yearnings, and being. Basically speaking, it’s about coaching their personal “iceberg” metaphor (Based on Satir Model).

Level 3: “Who you are… is how I coach” Level

This is where “The Art of Coaching” comes into play. When a coach can coach at this level, they’ll perform their coaching work just like an artist performing their artworks. A coach can coach beyond the coaching skills and competencies. A vivid metaphor for this is… “a fashion designer”. A coach becomes a “coaching designer” spontaneously designing their coaching in the present moment with their client.

For a coach to perform their coaching work at this level, they must be able to read their client like they’re reading their favorite books—reading with curiosity. They can read their client’s styles and personalities. They must be able to read between the lines, too! That means they can know and get the messages that their client doesn’t tell or say it out loud. The coach performing at this level of mastery must be able to use their intuition and wisdom to read between the lines.  

The coach must be able to understand their client’s “what” and “who” thoroughly and insightfully.

This really reminds me of a conversation with my fellow coaches in one of our advanced coaching courses. When some of my coach classmates said, “We don’t need to understand our client’s issue or dilemma. We can just ask them questions and let them find the solution on their own.”

However, I disagreed with them on this. I responded, “We do need to understand our client’s issue or dilemma or context they’re in, in order to be able to ask the right questions and reflect back the right messages or insights we’ve extracted from the coaching conversation.”

In order to perform at Level 3 of coaching mastery, the coach needs to understand their client’s issue, problem, dilemma, and context that the client brings into the coaching conversation. This is the coach’s understanding at the what level (Level 1). Not only does the coach need to understand the what of their client (Level 1), the coach also needs to understand the who of their client (Level 2). In addition to that, the coach needs to use the art of coaching by integrating their own wisdom and intuition with their readability of their client and designer ability to spontaneously design their coaching work to match their client’s style, personality and being.

Only if can a coach perform at this level 3, they will reach the highest level of coaching mastery. Why I dare to say this statement. It’s because… this level of coaching mastery is the most super-personalized coaching that a coach can do for their one-on-one client. 

So far, there’ve been more and more reports about AI Coaches that they could coach at the Level 1 very proficiently and they are working towards the Level 2 already.

So, if you, human coaches, out there don’t want to be easily replaced by AI Coaches in the very near future, your coaching will need to be upgraded to the Level 3 of coaching mastery.

If you, human coaches, want to possess the level 3 of coaching mastery, then let’s talk!