Has your client’s language changed?

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In their article: The Role of Coaching and Coach Language in Client’s Language and Individual Change, Fölscher-Kingwill and Terblanche explore what the effect of coaching is on client’s spoken and internal language. Their initial findings with 12 in-depth interviews with business leaders found that coaching does play a role in changing client language, along with a possible link to individual change. 

The authors cite the work of Chomsky (2017) who states that language evolved for interpretation and thought in a way that is uniquely human and should be seen as “meaning with sound” 

Within the field of coaching research, Fölscher-Kingwill and Terblanche identified three areas of need for deeper analysis.

  1. How coaching changes a client’s internal/spoken language
  2. The role of language as a change agent
  3. The role of language change within coaching success

The lack of information in the aforementioned areas led the researchers to explore the following two questions:

  1. To what extent does coaching change the language of clients?
  2. How does coach language influence client language during a coaching intervention?
Findings and Discussion:

From the interviews, Fölscher-Kingwill and Terblanche found that clients and coaches both reported significant changes to client language. Through three main themes, multiple client benefits quickly emerged. 

Theme 1: Coaching triggers iterative change in client language 

Within this theme, clients highlighted becoming aware of their inner voice through coaching, stabilizing their inner identity, and changing their management styles. 

Theme 2: Coaches confirm client linguistic change as essential to individual change 

Within this theme, coaches noticed that increased language focus for clients allowed the clients to be better at communication and brought about new insights as well. 

Theme 3: Coaches’ language broadens client language in multiple ways 

Within this theme, both coaches and clients recognized the coaches’ vocabulary influencing the client’s vocabulary. Clients reported internalizing key coach questions, i.e.  “What are you grateful for?”

For coaches, the researchers highlight within their research not only the how important words and language are, but also the ability coaches have to influence the words their clients use. How do you engage with the vocabulary and language use of your clients? Consider helping them expand their language in addressing problems and solutions. 

You can find the full article here: https://radar.brookes.ac.uk/radar/items/17216e39-1c0e-4630-afcd-618556323a9d/1/

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IOC's Tips of the Week are authored by Austin Matzelle