Many coaches have been introduced to the GROW model in their careers and we have found that it provides a great structured start for the coaches we have worked with throughout the world. We will introduce you to other approaches here that international coaches use in their work and you can use them to expand your capacity. We are not advocating the adoption of any one in particular. It is an offer for you to see what else might be relevant for your coaching.

Unpacking metaphors

When a coachee uses a particular word or image, then ask ‘What kind of X (is that X)? They will then investigate the language more and gain valuable insights into their unconscious. The use of Clean Language encourages a coach not to put our own interpretation onto an image but to keep questions pure and simple.

What kind of X (is that X)?”

“(And) is there anything else about X?”

The first two questions: ” and “Is there anything else about X?” are the most commonly used but others include:

  • “(And) what happens just before X?”
  • “(And) where could X come from?”
  • “(And) what would X like to have happen?”
  • “(And) what needs to happen for X?”
  • “(And) can X (happen)?”

In common with many positively oriented modern behavioural and coaching methodologies, Clean Language works best when you ‘go for the good stuff’.

This means:

  • Ask the questions about the positive aspects of a person’s experience.
  • Ask about the things that the person wants (more of).
  • Beginners may find that the most obvious metaphors are metaphors for problems, but exploring these is likely to be uncomfortable and less effective.
  • Focus on the positives.

Narrative based coaching

Helping people to tell their stories in a tough world is what we value in our coaching practice and so we are always attracted to narrative coaching. Once an initial story has been told a way to gain more perspective is to ask a coachee to view a situation from more than their own position. This means to ask the coachee to physically shift position and view the situation from another stance.

  • Ask how someone in another position or another character in the story would experience or view this?
  • If you were observing this situation, what would be your objective view? How would you advise someone to handle it?
  • Having told your story, what did you hear in the telling?

David Drake, who is the thought leader on Narrative Coaching, encourages using the coachee’s own narrative material as the source of and catalyst for change, not the coach’s methodology. He moves the coachee on from the content of the story to reflect on the experience of being in it and to decide if the story is working in the present.

Often we can ask a coachee to re-tell a story based on what is important to them in the here and now. This second narration is often shorter and creates a shift in narrative, picking up on deeper beliefs and assumptions and moves the story on from its initial context.

Patterns and connections

You can help build momentum and progress by making links and noticing and articulating patterns and connections in what the coachee says and their experiences.

  • “I noticed that you said this; how does this fit with what you have said before.”
  • “What does this mean?”
  • “How does this way of doing things serve you?”
  • “How has it limited you in the past?”
  • “How will it support you to change?”
  • “What needs to change to move forward?”

When an individual realises that they are only telling a partial account, they spot new opportunities within it.