Creating Awareness and links to learning

creating awareness and learningI’m currently in an inquiry to more deeply understand the Creating Awareness PCC Markers because I notice that these markers are often missing when I assess coaching recordings, and they are also very relevant for MCC skill level.

As an ICF Assessor in the new PCC Marker system, I’m always seeking to understand the core competencies at a deeper level. I want to give my best and clearest understanding to those coaches I mentor toward their next ICF credential, whether that’s MCC, PCC or ACC skill level.

For those who know The Target Approach, you’ll know that I consider Creating Awareness to be an “Output” competency. We can’t magically create awareness by saying nothing; awareness emerges as an output of what you are present to, which informs your listening, which informs the types of questions, observations and comments that you offer.

There are five Creating Awareness PCC Markers I’m going to alter the order in which I address them

Starting with the third maker, which is about the coach sharing what they are noticing, and allowing the client to consider the coach’s input.

In writing this article, I had the experience of writing a first draft and noticing that it felt flat to me. So you could say that I had awareness that the article didn’t ‘feel’ right. I then started to notice my discomfort with the first draft (discomfort is ‘the who’). I wasn’t “feeling” good about what I’d written. I then considered how I wanted to feel, which was satisfied and happy with what I’d written (also ‘the who.’)

This is what a coach does in a coaching session. By making observations to the client and seeking the client’s input, and allowing them to explore further. To do this, you often have to shift your attention off the words the client is saying and also pay attention to the tone or feeling that you are noticing.

For example, a coach might have said to me,

“How are you feeling about your first draft?” or

“What would you like to be feeling and saying about your completed article?” or

“I notice your energy is lower as you speak about your draft. What do you notice?”

The last example is also a form of Direct Communication. 

I went back to the draft and started the article again, using some of what I’d written while adding pieces like this.

The first two markers are about exploring the client’s learning either about their situation (the what) or themselves (the who).

Given my example of writing this article, you’ll notice I’ve already started to distinguish ‘the who’ awareness (feelings in this case) and ‘the what’ (the writing of this article). Here are some further example questions that could be asked to unpack awareness/learning:

Marker #1 (the what)

What are you learning about how to handle this situation?

What new learning have you had today about writing an article?

What insights have you had that will help you to move forward with writing this, and other articles in the future?

Marker #2 (the who)

What have you learned about yourself today?

How will you be different as a result of this awareness?

How will your approach be different?

The fourth marker is about inviting the client to consider how they’ll use their new learning from the coaching.

Using the example of writing this article, now that I had awareness that I wanted to feel happy and satisfied, I actually found new motivation to keep writing, because I can assess whether I feel happy and satisfied, or not. I write an article every two weeks, and I was able to recall the many times I felt very satisfied and happy with what I’d written.

A coach might have asked me, “Now that you’ve had this insight, what will you do with that to move you forward?”

This fits nicely with The Target Approach where I assert that when the client has an ‘Aha’ or ‘Wow, I just got something….’ or you sense that some new awareness is emerging, then it may be a natural output for the client to then have clarity about what to do next (Designing Actions).

Awareness can emerge anytime in the session, so stay present, silent, and allow the client to further unpack their awareness. Then stay connected to the client to sense if this is the right time to invite them to consider actions. e.g. Now that you’ve had that awareness, what, if anything, would you like to do with that?

The fifth marker is a more general marker in that the types of questions, comments and/or observations the coach offers, have the potential for awareness to emerge for the client.

Questions that have the potential to create new learning in the client depends on what the client says. Based my experience of writing this article, questions might be:

What has helped you to write articles in the past that have you feel happy and satisfied?

How can you use that knowledge?

The concept is to ask questions or offer comments that allow the client to dig deeper into their self-knowledge and experiences, including about their beliefs, values, attitude, successes, and/or concerns that might provide insight into either a) how to move forward or b) what needs to be addressed to remove any blocks to moving forward.

The bottom line

These markers are all about giving your client the space to explore emerging awareness they are having, and what they are learning about themselves or their situation in the session, as well as allowing your client to consider what they might want to do as a result of that new learning.

I invite you to experiment with including some learning questions in your coaching sessions and observe what impact it has on the client. Tailor your questions to your client’s situation. Notice what impact these types of questions have on the client’s level of clarity, and how to move forward. 

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