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​Coaching: professional relationships

Posted December 2 2014

I’ve been looking a lot at relationships recently. I do this every day of course in my work, but I was recently on a training course called Professional Relationship Coaching, run by Sandra Wilson for Coaching Development, which was all about how to specifically use coaching to support a relationship between two people, in a business setting.

The big thing that I took away was to put the relationship at the centre of the work. So rather than thinking of it as coaching the people (although this happens as well of course), instead to focus on coaching the relationship.

This achieves a few important things.

Firstly, it builds trust – so in this model, as coach, you only ever meet both parties to the relationship together. That means that there is no chance that either party thinks the coach may be ‘siding with’ the other. There is also no chance of side-conversations ‘about the other person’, and it reduces any chance of an unequal proximity growing up between any two parties in the triangle (comprised of coach, client 1 and client 2). In other words, it maintains a balanced relationship between all three people.

Secondly, focusing on the relationship de-personalises things, which can be very helpful if it’s getting a little heated. So the discussion is about what is going on with the relationship, and what the relationship needs in order to work as it should. This takes the focus off the individuals and gently brings the conversation back every time, to the dynamic between, rather than what A or B is or isn’t saying or doing.

In my experience, it also means that the two people gain valuable perspective, and then tend to become quite intrigued by the relationship. They can progress to this point because the process puts what is going on ‘out there’ to be looked at and considered. So everyone can stand back and ponder, and offer thoughts about the relationship, and about what might be useful from this point forward.

So, an intriguing couple of days of learning for me, trying out the model, and thinking about business relationships from yet another angle. I’m looking forward to using this in my work … watch this space…If you're interested in finding out more, contact me.