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A Coaching Mindset: Notes from UMCRM Community Conversation 12/6/21

15 Dec 2021 8:27 PM | Jen Burch (Administrator)

Joan Thorson, a longtime volunteer and camp/retreat ministry advocate from the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference, joined us for the December 6th UMCRM Community Conversation to help us understand ways that a coaching mindset could enhance our camp and retreat ministry leadership. Participants learned definitions, powerful inquiry techniques, and coaching skills to apply to relationships with staff and others.

View the video recording

Here are some primary takeaways from the session: 

  • Coaching techniques can be utilized in everyone's leadership. Coaching is an ongoing, intentional conversation that empowers the person or group to fully live out God's calling. 
  • A coach is not the same as a:
    • Supervisor (top/down and authoritative, may not focus on empowerment)
    • Counselor/Therapist (working with the past, may have less future-focus)
    • Mentor (someone sharing their experiences, less about reflecting on recipient's experiences)
    • Consultant (advice-giving and sharing answers, less about assisting someone to discover answers for themselves) 

Skills utilized in coaching:

  • Listening - Giving the gift of attentive focus (tip: listen 80% of the time, speak only 20% of to time)
  • Inquiry - Asking powerful questions
  • Feedback - Providing useful information
  • Expanding - Increasing awareness and broader perspective
  • Focusing - Designing effective action plans
  • Follow-up - Support

More on "Inquiry": A good question will provoke insight. Asking questions that gets someone to find their own answers. Their answers might not be the answer that you want them to have, but that is ok.

Clarifying Questions:

  1. What do you mean by ...?
  2. What does ..... mean to you?
  3. What are your thoughts on ....?

Moving from "Why" questions to "What-with-an-'S'" questions:

  1. Instead of asking, "Why do you not feel connected to your team?" Ask, "What things connect you to your team?"
  2. Instead of asking, "Why are you frustrated at work?" Ask, "What factors cause you to be frustrated?"
  3. Instead of asking, "Why do you want to learn a new skill?" Ask, "What are your motivations for learning this new skill?" 

More on "Listening": Notice, Acknowledge, and Explore Emotions. Questions that come from listening may sound like:

  • I'm noticing emotions as you talk; what are you feeling?
  • Where is that ..(fill in emotion).. coming from?
  • What does that mean for you?


Focus - Ask a clarifying question or two. Example - "What would you like to talk about?" 

Importance - Notice emotions and ask more clarifying questions. Example - "What makes this issue important to you?"

Result - Uncover their goal through inquiry. Example - "What result would you like to take away from our conversation?" 

Evaluate - Determine if you are going in the right direction. Example - "Are we on track?" or "Has this been helpful?" 

Just because we’re sharing these recaps doesn’t mean you should skip Community Conversations! If you’re able to attend, your presence, perspectives, insights, and even your listening and your smile are a key part of our community life. Thanks to all who have been a part of the conversations over the past year and a half. The next one will be Monday, January 17th. Hope you’ll join us!

Questions?  Please contact our Association Registrar

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