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Disempowering Reflections

By Martha Lasley, Virginia Kellogg,
Richard Michaels & Sharon Brown

Coaching for Transformation
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Many habitual responses or reflections do not contribute to awareness and learning. By avoiding disempowering responses, we help people gain their own insight and power. The following examples can disempower the people we coach:

Agreeing with judgments: Yes, that guy is obnoxious.

Asking for more information: So she insulted you. Who else was there and what did they say?

Consoling: It wasn’t your fault; anyone else would have done the same thing.

Denying feelings: You shouldn’t feel angry that your boss is exerting power over you. He’s only trying to help.

Disagreeing: How can you say that? She’s so smart!

Educating: I hope you will learn that you have got to be more assertive if you want people to listen to you.

Giving advice: If I were you, I’d go to the beach.

Judging: You have no people skills.

Moralizing: That was a really insensitive thing to do. I think you need to apologize.

Reassuring: You’ll be fine. By tomorrow this will all blow over.

One-upping: That’s nothing; something much worse happened to me…

Shifting away from concerns: You sound pretty riled up. Let’s focus on next week’s meeting.

Solving the problem: All you have to do is cancel the contract and move on.

Sympathizing: Oh, you poor thing…

Telling someone what to feel: I don’t see why you feel marginalized. Even if you are the only Korean in the division, you should be happy about how much money you’re making!

Telling your own story: Something very similar happened to me…


Excerpt from the book Coaching for Transformation: Pathways to Ignite Personal & Social Change by Martha Lasley, Virginia Kellogg, Richard Michaels and Sharon Brown. As faculty at Leadership that Works, they certify coaches who offer personal, organization and community transformation. Check out the free Power of Coaching teleclass.

Coaching is life-changing, world-changing work. The coaching programs at Leadership that Works go beyond theories and models and work with clients on a deeper level. You learn how to coach the whole person: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Whole person Transformation.

Leadership that Works

Transforming the world.
One heart at a time.

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