Traffic lights and coaching

Have you ever jumped the lights at a junction? Of course not, but if you’ve driven through an amber and it just turned red, I bet you knew you were doing something naughty and possibly wrong. Especially if the lights were really red even though you swore they were amber.

In the same way, when coaching, we don’t drive through the red light, we only move forward on the green and move cautiously through amber.

I’m referring to the body language of your coachee and their imaginary traffic lights above their head.

Let me explain.

Here’s the basic model of body language

Now here’s the same model with the relevant traffic light within each quartile.

So when you’re on red. Stop immediately and ask how they are feeling, what they are thinking, trial close them by asking if they are getting value from the moment, or is something on their mind. Challenge them. Doesn’t really matter how you do it, but you need to get to the bottom of their mood.

When on amber, proceed along your path, but activate your level 3 listening to an intense level. Keep a watchful eye on their body language, look for the words that are not being said, ready yourself for a red signal.

If on green, carry on, keep them talking.

So next time you’re coaching someone, look out for the traffic lights above their heads, after all we all know the Highway Code don’t we?