Principles-based coaching is different from traditional coaching. Liz Scott speaks to two principles-based coaches and facilitators (Ian Watson and Piers Thurston) to learn more.

The similarities with traditional coaching

In many ways there are similarities between traditional and 3P coaching. In both instances a coach would have a conversation with a client and the client would share what they would like to achieve or develop in their life. However the key difference is in how the coach listens. A principles-based coach is listening to understand how the client sees the world. The 3P coach will help the client see that both the source of the problem and the solution lie in the same place. A principles-based coach will help a client to see that their feelings are not generated by people, circumstances or events. You can read this article that goes into more detail about the differences and similarities between principles-based and traditional coaching.

Grounding and the 3P coach

Grounding is key for a 3P coach it is the difference that makes a difference. The term grounding is used quite extensively amongst 3P coaches and practitioners. It refers to the ’embodied’ understanding of the principles. An embodied understanding is the way the coach deeply ‘knows’ something about the way life works, rather than having to remember an idea or theory about how life works.

How can coaches develop their grounding? One way (that Ian Watson points out in his interview) is to hang around people who have more grounding than you – because it seems to rub off. For most people it is an incremental process as they get insights into how the inside-out nature of life works.

Do I have to get rid of my tools and techniques?

Many coaches hear that a principles-based approach isn’t a ‘doing’ and there are no tools or techniques. This can sometimes lead to a bit of fear (it was certainly the case for me) that you have to stop doing the things that you’ve done in the past. One of the mantras that seems to be uttered is that there are no tools and techniques in the world of the Three Principles.

Rather than dramatically throw everything away the process seems to be more gentle. What tends to happen is that the coaching tools seem to have less value and then you naturally stop using them. So the message is, use whatever helps the client and as and when it isn’t so helpful you won’t use it any more.

Is it really coaching?

It looks like coaching, but there are differences. The key difference is what you’re up to in the coaching session. In other words if you’re sharing how people gain clarity and fresh ideas. As a coach your only role and job is to help them see this for themselves. So rather than getting them to a particular goal, it’s helping them to see how they work psychologically.

As a coach it’ll be useful to ensure your client realises it is a different kind of conversation. It’s more about how life works rather than what to do with life. It’s good to set this out at the beginning of the conversation through the intake and contracting process. This means the coachee realises the nature of the conversation.

What do clients get from the conversation?

The benefits of the conversation is that they gain a freedom and liberation from a problem that they had originally thought was true. When they see how life really works they see things completely differently. Often the problem they came in with no longer appears so big or real.

Gaining an insight is more than ‘getting’ something intellectually. An insight feels completely different. One is ‘I’ve got a new idea’ and it feels nice, but it’s usually about how to solve the problem. An insight feels like a ‘light bulb’ moment where they realise the problem itself has dissolved.

It’s great to have realisations about how the human system works. In other words that we are built to have insights and realisations – we don’t need to stimulate these insights from the ‘outside’ world.

How do you help a client gain insights?

There is no formula to help you do this. However the more you see this yourself as the coach – in other words the depth of your grounding. Then the more that the client is able to see this the more they are likely to see a spiritual fact. They need to realise that the insight arose from the ‘inside-out’ and not from something that happened in the outside world.

The two interviews

Check out the two interviews below from Piers Thurston and Ian Watson as I talk about Principles-based coaching with both of these experienced facilitator/trainers.

Interview with Ian Watson

Interview with Piers Thurston

Other articles of interest:

About Liz Scott & Stuart Newberry

Liz Scott & Stu Newberry are Coaching Skills trainers and 3P practitioners. They help develop coaching cultures within schools and organisations. Liz & Stu use their understanding of the 3Ps within their training and are experiencing great successes and results in the organisations they are working in. Download an Introduction to the Three Principles here.

Want to de-stress in just 28 days? Recharge on the Run is a FREE audio series (delivered to your inbox daily) that will help you discover your inner peace of mind. Find out more about Liz & Stu at Liz Scott Coaching and Training