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The impact of coaches actions & reactions on coaching outcomes by David Goddin

This week is ICF’s International Coaching Week and it’s a great opportunity to celebrate & discuss coaching. Each weekday I’m hosting blogs from a variety of authors exploring an aspect of coaching. You can read all the posts this week here & follow them on Twitter using #coachingblogs.

The topic for today is “The impact of coaches actions & reactions on coaching outcomes” which has been suggested by Phil Willcox (@philwillcox).

This post has been written by yours truly (@changecontinuum) – I hope you enjoy it!

The impact of coaches actions & reactions on coaching outcomes

By SRHSP (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (, via Wikimedia Commons

In many ways it feels incredibly hard to describe the impact of all our actions & reactions as coaches. Some impacts we are aware of (conscious) and know/see that they create impact. Others we are less aware of (unconscious) and so possibly can’t know what impact they cause until later, if ever. The reality is that as coaches we are constantly acting and reacting.

So perhaps the most important thing to know then is that all your actions & reactions as a coach, whether conscious or unconscious, will shape the coaching process and will influence the outcomes for the client. In fact it’s critical that they do, with authenticity, care and skill.

The challenge as a coach then is twofold:

How can I stay aware of my conscious & unconscious actions & reactions?

How can I ensure that I use actions & reactions which are supportive, additive and appropriate for the client?

Part of any training & practice as a coach focuses on staying present with the client. As a form of mindfulness, what you are doing is focusing on their actions, reactions & processes and not your own. You are noticing how the client is moving & talking, where their attention is, the energy they are sharing, the words and intonations they speak. Choice is always the clients but it’s our attention that creates the reflective space and feedback which makes coaching such an effective developmental process.

It requires a “stilling” of your own mind to notice deeply as well as hear deeply. When you feel your own processes starting to creep back in, the skill is in diligently noticing that shift and refocusing back on the client.

At the same time, and perhaps counter-intuitively to what I’ve said above, it’s equally important to notice the impact the client is having on you. The way their words and actions make you feel. The emotions and physiological changes their words create for you. Then if useful, sharing of your human experience of them.

I’ve always found that this level of sharing & reflecting back to the client of how I experience them creates greater awareness and shifts in how the client sees themselves. It’s still the clients agenda. It’s feedback not judgement or advice. It’s quite powerful and authentic.

However, it needs a strong foundation of self-awareness and practice in putting away your own mental distractions as they emerge.

Get this combination right and I believe whatever the actions & reactions you share, they will be supportive and in service to the client. Get this combination wrong or with a very weak foundation and you run the risk of imposing yourself on the client.

What do you think?



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