The art of facilitating performance

By Dr Alex Cheung, Master Trainer of NLP

This is the fifth in a six-part series focusing on various ways that neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) can be applied in today's business world.

Coaching using NLP is about more than the transfer of knowledge

Coaching can mean different things to different people. Many people think that coaching is essentially the transfer of knowledge. The coach is expected to have the expertise and correct skills to teach us how to perform. However, we can offer another perspective: "Coaching is the art of facilitating the performance, learning and development of another."

The word "facilitating" is important. It implies that the person to be coached has the capacity to think something through for himself, to have insight and creative ideas to solve his present problem or improve his performance. The role of the coach is to help us formulate plans, stay focused and support us in the processes involved in working towards our goals.

To be effective in coaching, we need to manage ourselves as well as the structure and process of the session. To manage ourselves so that we can listen without judgment or criticism, we need to have strong beliefs that both the person being coached and ourselves have the capability to achieve the targeted goal. The following neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) presuppositions can help us tune in to this positive mindset and shift our thinking when hurdles are encountered.

There is no failure, only feedback: If you are willing, there is always something to learn from any experience.

If what you are doing is not working, do something else: Repeating old ways will always end up with the same unsatisfactory result.

People have the capability that they need to perform effectively: This capability can be drawn out with the appropriate rewards and input.

Anything is possible if it is broken down into small pieces: Help break down larger, longer-term goals into smaller, shorter-term achievable steps.

The meaning of your communication is judged by the response you get: There are no difficult clients, just inflexible communicators.

Behind every type of behaviour is a positive intention: Accept the person, change the behaviour.

Energy flows where attention goes: Stay focused on the goals.

People will improve their performance naturally if given encouragement and feedback.

The GROW Model enables the coach to structure a coaching session and deliver a meaningful result. In addition to active listening, we can use powerful questioning techniques - ask what, when, where, why, who and how questions to explore current situations, generate understanding, promote awareness and evoke creativity to solve the problem or achieve the goal.

Goal - to establish the desired outcome; make sure it is specific, achievable and stated in positive words by asking:

What do you want?
What is your lifelong dream?
Why it is important to you?
How will you know if you get there?
What is the benefit of getting it?

Reality - to get an accurate picture of the current situation. The primary aim is to let the coach understand and the person being coached more aware of what is happening now. No attempt is made to solve or fix the problem. Ask questions such as:

What is happening now? What is missing?
What were the factors that influenced you?
How do you feel about it?
What is your biggest challenge? Biggest fear?
What caused that to happen?

Options - see what can be done. Make a list of all that is possible without judgment or evaluation. We can ask questions such as:

What else will you do?
What assumptions do you have about this option?
If anything were possible, what would you do?
What are the advantages of that option?
What are the disadvantages?

Will - to help the person being coached to formulate his action plan. The following questions are useful:

What are you going to do?
When are you going to do it?
What obstacles might you find along the way?
What support do you need?
How certain are you that you will carry out this action plan?

Eight Keys to Quality Coaching
1. Establish rapport. display trust & care for people
2. Listen, without judgment or criticism
3. Ask questions to promote self-discovery
4. Focus on people's strengths and motivate their needs
5. Find the source of the problem and resources available before helping the person being coached to search for solutions
6. Honour the truth by communicating all that you sense
7. Promote action in large and small steps
8. Invite the person being coached to take responsibility for their own action

Dr Alex Cheung FHKIE, FCMI, FInstAM, FHKIoD, FIOSH is a chartered engineer with more than 30 years experience. He has been appointed to serve on advisory boards and committees with many reputable universities and public organisations. Currently Dr Cheung is a Master Trainer of NLP and actively promoting Behaviour Psychology to unleash people's inner potential. For information please visit or contact Alex Cheung at

Taken from Career Times 03 September 2004
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