Direct Communication: What is Your Real Intent?

In this post we’ll explore the seventh Core Coaching Competency: Direct Communication. To take a deeper look into how your communications display your intent with clients, and gain 21 CCEU accredited by the ICF, enrol on our Decoding the Coaching Genome course now.


What was the last sentence you said today? To whom did you say it? Why did you say it? Did you get the response that you wanted?

Most often people open their mouths and words pop out. They are usually offered with out much crafting or thought about the intent of the communication. This is because conversations happen quickly and there often isn’t time for a well thought out response. Further, during a conversation, many people are not listening to the speaker, they are thinking of their response but lose power when they miss either the content or the intent of their fellow conversant.

Choosing your Words

When speaking with your client, it is very important that you consciously choose what you say. Coaching both deconstructs your client’s accepted mindset in order to facilitate change. And, it also reconstructs a new mindset that maintains the desired change. Being unaware of what you are saying can foster ineffective deconstruction and flimsy reconstruction.

Intent precedes direct communication. What is your intent in each communication you offer to your client? Hopefully, you are focused on either helping your client create a desired change in their life or acknowledging aspects of their ways of being and behaviors that work for them.

Who Are You Speaking For?

Another question to ask yourself is, “Is what I’m saying for the client’s benefit or to make me feel more comfortable in the moment?” It’s important to be honest in answering this question. If you are speaking for your own benefit, do what you need to directly answer your own need. Perhaps you need to know that your client understands you. Feel free to ask your client if they understand what you are saying.

The more words you use in a sentence, the more chance there is for misunderstanding. Try to craft both your statements and questions to be short and clear. This is not about “dumbing down” the quality of your conversation. After all, it takes a smart mind to explain complexity in a simple manner. Instead it’s about being clear and to the point.

The four main tools of direct communication are metaphor, powerful questions, articulation and language. When used consciously and with the intent to facilitate change, you can assist your client in doing the work of changing their mindset and creating lasting change. These are the “doing” aspects of direct communication.


“Being” and “doing”

However, without including the “being” aspects at the same time, you will be robbing your words of power and intent. It’s important that curiosity, courage and a childlike wonder are the foundation that all of your communications rest upon.

In between the “being” and the “doing” of coaching are four attributes: omnidirectional listening (staying present in the moment), full permission to state the hard truth, un-attachment to the ideas of your client, (giving you full space to play with everything the client says) clarity and range, the ability to play and speak in different ways of being depending upon what will best benefit your client.

Or to be completely direct, you must stay present, and deeply listen to your client so that you can respond in the most powerful way that will evoke the next necessary step in your client’s process of change.


About the Author:

Judith has been following her calling for the past 33 years, originally as a licensed psychotherapist and then for the past 20 years as Co-Active Coach. After training her, CTI (The Coaches Training Institute) invited Judith to become a faculty member in 1996. She received her Master Certified Coach certificate through the International Coach Federation in 1999. Judith currently is a Senior Faculty member at CTI as well the principal of her own international coaching practice.

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