Saturday, March 6, 2010

Thoughts About 'Permission'

I learn a lot from listening to or being a client for ICF credentialing exams. Often I get coached wonderfully. I am grateful for that experience. Sometimes I'm not coached well. Nevertheless, I always learn something.

'Permission.' That's my subject in this blog.

'Permission.' Oh my gosh, why does a coach training program insist that their students ask permission to do or say anything and everything? It's so annoying. It stops me, the client, from being in my own moment because I have to say 'yes' then and go into the coach's moment. I call that "stopping action."

Now of course, permission is VERY important in coaching but not so that it overrides good professional coaching. (Actually, any annoying habit overrides good coaching.) Somewhere in the Core Competencies the word permission is used: "permission to coach in sensitive areas" ... but that's it. Until a coach and client are engaged in a deep conversation where a sensitive area is being unearthed, what is gained by asking permission in so many words. Also, in Coaching Presence it's a mark of this competency that the coach is confident, flexible and present. This follows on the heels of Establishing Trust and Intimacy ... doesn't that imply permission? Or should we say "Do I have permission to coach you with trust and intimacy?" Oh gee.

When a coach first meets a potential client it's time then to deal with asking permission. Make sense? In an exam situation, we assessors actually say it's not necessary to go through the "big agreement" but to just start coaching. How clear is that? If you get uncomfortable and move into a sensitive zone simply ask if it's okay ... 'okay' is a less intrusive word. We sometimes get stuck on one word when other words will do the job. I've listened to exams where the coach gently asked if it was okay to "go there" ... with the response of "not now." That's marvelous and natural and respectful. It's about the client, after all.

To bring this to a close, allow me to give you permission (as if I have permission to do that!) to coach with confidence, caring, trust, intimacy and presence ... because your client gave you blanket permission to do so.