How to Demonstrate Behavioural Flexibility as a Coach

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Here’s the thing, and it applies to everything coaching.

The person with the most behavioural flexibility will have the most impact on the system. The person with least behavioural flexibility will have the least impact on the system.

So the rigid thinker, who only sees one side of the whole story, will find that they have the least impact on the system and find the situation challenging.

And the person who sees many options and opportunities will have increased chances achieving their goals.

The person with most flexibility has more choices, and therefore they have the most influence over any system, situation, event…

How Behavioural Flexibility Applies to Coaching

Effectively manages self

During a coaching session, you need to be aware of how your client is feeling about choices they have.

If they are seeing only one choice or option, they will feel helpless, hopeless and “trapped”.

If they believe they have two choices, they are stuck in a dilemma.

Whereas having three or more choices is freeing.

Of course, this is an oversimplification of what happens, but it still is a valid point. As coaches, we want to facilitate and help the client see multiple choices and perspectives they can choose in any given situation.

Once they realise the choice they have, they can work on becoming flexible enough to exercise them depending on what’s needed.

Practising Behavioural Flexibility as a Coach

This goes both ways. In a coaching session, if what you’re doing as a coach doesn’t work, do something else. To be able to do something else, we must have the flexibility to at first perceive that there is an alternative path.

This highlights the need to change one’s behaviour and do something else, again and again, if need be, until the desired outcome is achieved. In other words, we must be able to change readily to meet new circumstances.

Meta Dynamics™ presupposes that every one of us is responsible for our own life. We may not be able to control external events (what happens to us, around us or to others), but we are capable of controlling our reactions and response to those events.

And if we keep reacting and responding in the same way, we will always get the same result.

A person with flexibility will change their behaviour repeatedly whenever something isn’t working.

They do something new until they achieve their goal, or realise they are seeking something else through the learning they acquire from the first attempt.

Therefore, it’s important to note that flexibility applies to our thinking as much as it does to our behaviour.

As a coach, you can recognise traits in your clients that cause their choices, rather than simply see the outcome of their thinking. You can do this by becoming familiar with EDISC profiles, Meta Dynamics™ coaching methodology, Spiral Dynamics and other thinking models.

For example, if someone is a “D” as in DISC (Dominant energy type who believe they can influence and impact their environment), they are going to respond very differently to a challenge or setback than, say a “C” type energy (Compliant energy who want to be accurate).

The “D” energy may blitz through the challenge.

The “C” energy may hesitate because they don’t want to make another mistake.

So as coaches, we have two choices – simply coach their “behaviour” or go deeper and recognise the pattern and underlying thinking that led to the behaviour.

A coach who lacks behavioural flexibility will most likely choose the former. It seems like an easy choice, a safe one.

But a rigid attitude or thinking reduces the chances of achieving the desired outcome in your interaction with the client.

In Conclusion

One of the keys to effective coaching is to always be flexible enough to explore and search for an appropriate strategy for and with our clients.

It’s obvious, although sometimes ignored, that if your client wants something new, you have to encourage them to do something new – because anything new will be better than maintaining what’s not working.

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