The use of silence is a powerful coaching skill, all part of your ability to listen effectively as a coach. It is a skill which can take a while to feel comfortable with and to master, often feeling that silence indicates that we have run out of questions or that we are making our coachee feel uncomfortable.
You may be met with silence when you ask a question – this could be that your client has not understood your question or they are thinking through the answer. Don’t be tempted to dive in straight away with another question or rephrase your first. You could have just asked the most powerful thought-provoking question which has made a huge impact on your coachee and allowing silence gives your coachee the space to think through their response to the full.
You may also want to allow silence after your coachee has responded to a question allowing them to think through their answer more fully, to consider what answer they have already given or to explore further options.
For you as a coach pauses in the dialogue can really help you to listen to the coachee and pick up their emotions, feelings and the mood of the coachee. If you are listening at this level and giving your coachee the space to think, then your coachee will feel listened to and will be more likely to open up when they do speak. You will also be better able to gauge what questions to ask next.
Co-active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life by Laura Whitworth, Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, and Phil Sandahl (Paperback - 15 Feb 2007)
The Coaching Manual: The Definitive Guide to the Process, Principles and Skills of Personal Coaching by Julie Starr (Paperback - 8 Nov 2007)
Coaching Skills: A Handbook by Jenny Rogers (Paperback - 1 Mar 2008)