In my previous blogs I have discussed how coaching processes have been used and the value and limitations of using processes when training coaches and running real coaching sessions.

But why do we teach coaching processes at all if coaching is all about relationship? If coach trainers were to be honest it is a lot easier to teach someone how to use processes than how to build relationships. So save some time there. And the processes, particularly when you start coaching give a vital framework for new coaches to understand what the hell they are trying to do.

But teaching a new coach how to coach purely using a process is a bit like teaching about love by telling someone to buy roses and write poetry. You might have the right idea about what to do but you don’t understand why you are doing it. And as in love it can come across as a bit false if someone is just going through the motions. So you need both parts. The relationship element is essential while the process gives intellectual rigor to the session. Interestingly enough you don’t actually have to have a human being on the other end to build a relationship.

For example it possible to programme a computer with coaching processes so that it will ask the right questions in the right order with a feature which would change the responses and questions according to the answers it received. The computer can understand enough to know when to give a response such as empathy when needed. This approach works quite well unless the computer misunderstands something and it becomes obvious that the client is not interacting with a human. And it is hard to keep the pretence up through the twists and turns of a complex coaching session. But as long as the client believes that they are having a relationship with a caring human being that is enough for him/her to feel they have been helped.

Given most of us are still working with humans rather than machines how do we train them to use processes and relationships together? It is as if there was a tightrope between relationship and process and experienced coaches can walk that tightrope without falling down one side or the other. We will be examining this in more detail in the next blog where we will be looking at how to use participants own knowledge about relationships and introduce models such as GROW as appropriate.