3 Practical Ways to Create Reflection in Coaching - International Coaching Federation

COVID-19 Resources for ICF Coaches. Learn more

ICF CONVERGE 2021: Registration Now Open!

3 Practical Ways to Create Reflection in Coaching

Posted by Rachel Thalmann, PCC | April 13, 2020 | Comments (3)

Evoking insight for clients is an essential part of the coaching process. Insight occurs when people gain a deep intuitive understanding about themselves or a situation and leads to clarity to solve problems.

John Dewey—psychologist, philosopher and education reformer—is thought to be the founder of reflection as it relates to personal learning. Dewey said, “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.”

Providing opportunity for reflection is smart and important for a client’s learning and insight toward reaching their goals.

If Josh, the regional manager of a large corporation, doesn’t have an opportunity to reflect about how his mid-year check-ins with employees went last year, he may not adjust his mid-year meetings this year to reach his goal of conducting them more effectively and efficiently. If he doesn’t know what worked well, what didn’t work well, what values created dissonance, or that procrastination is his go-to coping behavior, he’ll miss out on the empowerment of insight.

Here are three practical ways to create more reflection for clients.

1) Continually “Check In”

Implement a pre-coaching intake form. Include questions like:

  • What do I want to accomplish, change or challenge through coaching?
  • What is getting in my way?
  • Where do I want to begin?
  • When coaching is complete, how will I know it’s been a success?

While facilitating learning and results, use the intake form to reflect midway through the contracted time. Where did the client begin, and where do they feel they are now? Note progress and allow them to reflect if they want to stay the original course or change courses.

This tool helps co-create the relationship between client and coach as well as demonstrates care and attention to the client’s end goals.

To create reflection and insight about progress made over just one session, ask, “Where are you now with this from when we started the session?”

Keep curiously checking in to allow clients time and space to make associations, connections and synthesize insight.

2) Use Scale Questions

If Josh, the manager, conducted a difficult mid-year conversation with an employee, ask, “On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with how the conversation went?”

If he answers 6, for example, take note of the gap and ask him to reflect what would have made that conversation an 8 for him.

If he answers 5, create reflection about what made this an “on-the-fence” situation? Which direction, toward 4 or 6, does he really feel in the situation?

Scaling questions create clarity for clients because upon reflection, each number represents something unique to them. A client’s reflection leads to learning what works, what doesn’t work, and what creates insight into different possibilities for the desired outcome.

3) Distinguish Evidence

In his discovery on reflection, Dewey taught to discriminate between beliefs that rest upon evidence and those that do no.

Allowing clients to explore, “How true is that?” gives them an opportunity to reflect on the evidence of their beliefs.

A client’s beliefs drive action and emotion, so a coach who facilitates reflection of the truth versus limiting beliefs will have clients with greater insights and greater transformation.

  • What stories are they telling themselves? (How true are the stories?)
  • What rules must they uphold? (How true is each one?)
  • What was their interpretation of an experience? (How true is it?)

Asking powerful questions and using specific tools to allow a client to reflect on their experiences increases the opportunity for insight and personal learning as they choose their path to move forward.

What other practical ways do you use to instill reflection with your clients?

Reflect: When it comes to your personal learning as a coach, what have you reflected about recently that has increased your coaching effectiveness?

rachel thalmann headshot

Rachel Thalmann, PCC

Rachel Thalmann, PCC, went from classroom teacher to coaching leaders in education. She's spent seven years teaching, 11 years parenting, and five years working with a team to increase consciousness and joy in individuals and organizations: ventureinspired.org. Rachel has a master's degree in School Counseling and is a Professional Certified Coach (PCC).

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

Comments (3)

  1. slabiran says:

    The article was very useful, thank you.

  2. Arpita patel says:

    Hi there,

    Firstly, a bunch of thanks for sharing such a valuable post with us.
    It was very informative. Actually, I was doing some research on Reflection coaching & their impact
    their latest development for business hence got landed over your article.

    Thank you

    Source: https://myeveschoice.com/

  3. umkarrar65@gmail.com says:

    This article was helpful to me
    Thank you very much

    najma ali

Leave a Reply

Not a member?

Sign up now to become a member and receive all of our wonderful benefits.

Learn more