Allow your client to formulate their own learning and/or consider how they will use new learning

learn how your client learnsI’ve been seeking to understand more of the PCC Markers at a deeper level, which also provide a solid foundation toward MCC skill level.

The core competency of Creating Awareness has a theme of exploring emerging awareness, and/or how the client will use new learning. There’s also the element of how the coach contributes to creating the potential for new awareness and/or learning to emerge.

There’s one Coaching Presence marker that has me intrigued as to what it means, and how it contrasts with a Creating Awareness marker.

Here are both markers:

Coaching Presence, Marker 8, “Coach partners with the client by encouraging the client to formulate his or her own learning.”

Creating Awareness, Marker 4, “Coach invites client to consider how s/he will use new learning from the coaching.”

What’s the distinction between these two markers? I’ve engaged the wisdom of my husband, Michael Stratford, MCC, amazing coach, mentor, trainer of coaches, and fellow ICF MCC Assessor, in a conversation about these two markers. I have had new awareness emerge and I learned a lot by doing so!

Here is what we have to offer you in terms of distinctions:

Coaching Presence, Marker 8, “Coach partners with the client by encouraging the client to formulate his or her own learning.”

This marker is about the client’s system of how they learn and their ability to integrate what they’ve learned. The reason you want to help a client to formulate their own learning is so they can apply their way of learning to any situation, now and in the future.

Some general examples:

When you’ve really integrated something that you learned, how did you do that?

What contributes to you learning something really well?

How do you want to go about learning how to handle this?

Here’s what Michael shared as a way of further explanation; “My system of learning is trial and error, feedback, calibration, and research and not necessarily in that order. Sometimes I learn about an IKEA bookcase by putting it together, and then looking at the instructions if I get stuck. Other times, I will read the instructions first. The way I integrate it is through repetition and a discerning of key principles. That helps the learning to become codified into a system for me.”

Here’s a metaphorical explanation from Michael; “It’s like learning to ride a bike. Some people will be experiential learners (like me) and just get on the bike, fall off, get back on, and eventually figure it out. Other people will need more instruction or data first before getting on the bike. Other people need a teacher (or parent), or training wheels, to help them feel safe enough to get on the bike and feel supported until they get their balance, and some confidence.”

Creating Awareness, Marker 4, “Coach invites client to consider how s/he will use new learning from the coaching.”

This marker is about the application of what the client has learned through the coaching conversation, and how the client is going to use that learning. It’s also about helping the client to broaden their learning to help them in other aspects of their work/life.

The principle…

How are you going to use this learning to [fill in the blank]. For example, if the client wants to move out of feeling overwhelmed at work, the question might be, “How are you going to use this learning to move you out of feeling overwhelmed? And maybe, “In what other situations could you use this learning?”

Some general examples:

How would you like to apply or use the learning you’ve had so far?

What did you learn about yourself today in regard to [how you related to feeling overwhelmed]?

What else might you want to explore to integrate this new awareness before moving forward?

How will this serve you in other aspects of your life?

What does this mean in terms of how you want to approach this in the future?

Back to the learning to ride a bike metaphor…

The question might be, “Now that you know how you go about learning to ride a bike, what are you going to do with that learning? Some of the options might be to ride in the bicycle lane on roads, ride only off-road, ride in a park, join a cycling club, or not continue riding at all.

In closing…

We hope that we’ve been able to illuminate some distinctions between these two markers. We invite you to experiment with them and notice how asking questions about the client’s learning supports them to know what to do, or how to apply their learning to other situations.


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