I’ve been thinking about just how much of a focus there really should be on building rapport and chemistry in a coaching relationship…
There’s no denying that it’s nice to have rapport and to feel that there is good chemistry. Often coaches and coachees will point to this as part of what they value in the coaching relationship. Similarly, there are studies that point to both rapport and good chemistry being the foundation stones of coaching or similar “helping” relationships.
My question is, could that starting point be a nicety or potential pitfall rather than a critical and essential component?
Looking at definitions of rapport, it is variously described as:
“a sympathetic relationship or understanding”
“intense harmonious accord”
“relation characterized by harmony, conformity, accord, or affinity”
I understand why both experientially and definitionally we might seek to associate rapport and good chemistry with a coaching relationship. Yet there is a mutuality illustrated in the above which indicates the coach needs to get something from the relationship…
So whose agenda are we working with? How useful and accurate is it for the coach to expect the coachee to see their relationship in this way? Given that coaching is not meant to create dependency, what expectations have we created around rapport and chemistry when the coaching relationship ends?
We can show compassion, empathy and sympathy genuinely and usefully without creating a sympathetic relationship.
We don’t always need intense harmonious accord. We often need difference and challenge in coaching.
We should be very wary of the pitfalls of affinity and like-mindedness.
Genuine rapport and chemistry in relationships is to be valued, always. My sense is that trust, commitment, challenge and skill are perhaps far more usefully important in coaching relationships than our notions of rapport or chemistry.
Perhaps we only focus on starting coaching relationships with just those 4 elements in mind and let the relationship flourish from there?