Monthly Archives: December 2017

Got something to say?

Guest posters for 2018 wanted!

Is your skill with a quill undeniable?¹

So as December appears to be wizzing by I wanted to make a public invite for anyone who is interested in writing a guest post in 2018.

What’s involved?
It’s quite simple really – providing a guest post (with a bio) that you think will be of interest to other coaches 9 days before the Friday it’s due to be published.

Do guest posters have to be coaches?
Usually guest posters are either coaches themselves, trainee coaches or use coaching in a different job title alternatively you may work directly with coaches. This means that the content of guest posts is written with an understanding of this blogs readers – coaches.

What topic does the post have to be about?
The main guidance I usually give is what would you most like to share with an audience of coaches? I can provide a list of questions (well I am a coach we like questions ;)) to spark inspiration if needed. So if you don’t yet know what you want to write about but this interests you do still get in touch below.

Do you need to have a blog?
It’s not necessary, some guest posters love regularly writing and have their own blog others just like to occasionally write or are just trying this out to see if they want to do more. All are welcome.

Can your guest post be published on a specific Friday?
Publishing dates are scheduled on a first requested basis so providing it’s still available yes.

Interested? Complete your details below to get started scheduling in your guest post.

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¹Apologies to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “Hamilton The musical” for slightly misquoting the lyrics!

The Sound of Silence 2

In today’s guest post performance coach Anna-Marie Watson focuses upon something she feels underpins many skills used in coaching and communication.

The Sound of Silence

By Anna-Marie Watson

“The Sound of Silence”  (Simon & Garfunkel)

When was the last time you indulged in a moment of pure silence? On your own in the shower or out for a run? Everything paused; the to-do list, “should have done” and “must dos” faded into the background. Your internal chatter diminished and waves of silence washed over you uninterrupted by mobile phone notifications, nagging thoughts or any other typical incessant background noise of 21st century living.

Our daily lives are an endless cacophony of sound as noise assaults our senses. Cities are full of the ever-present hum of background traffic, screaming children, ringing phones, the latest episode of “The Great British Bake-Off” blaring through from your neighbours’ apartment. Adriana, creator of the “Huffington Post” and “Thrive” believes “we’re wired, plugged in, constantly catered to, and increasingly terrified of silence, unaware of what it has to offer” (Huffington, 2014, 188). We’ve become accustomed to clatter and find a strange comfort or I’d suggest distraction from ourselves in the sounds tugging at our attention.

The flow of our everyday conversation perpetuates this din through a permanent flow of words. Our constant transmission overlooks the prime motivator behind verbal interactions – to exchange ideas, share information and seek to understand. Western culture reinforces this phenomenon as silence is generally associated with negative values, beliefs or assumptions. Silence correlates to a stereotypical lack of interest, unwillingness to communicate, rejection, interpersonal incompatibility, shyness (Davidson, 2009) or insufficient knowledge. These perceptions combined with our noisy world mean it’s almost impossible to hunt out a moment of peace and quiet. The deeper role of silence as a means of communication has largely been ignored (ibid.) and definitely warrants consideration in coaching and everyday conversations.

Additionally, patterns of dialogue vary across the world and the Western cultures specialise in a form of verbal tennis. Words morph into tennis balls; batted backwards and forwards across a net with a chronic failure to notice or register the actual word, hidden meanings, veiled emotions or insinuations. This links back to the classic 1960s song “The Sound of Silence” where Garfunkel describes the lyrics deeper meaning to illustrate “the inability of people to communicate with each other, not particularly intentionally but especially emotionally” (Eliot, 2010). The deeper value, connection and understanding is concealed within the noise and found in the spaces between words, brief sentence gaps and pauses in-between. The Sound of Silence.

Within the professional coaching realm, the International Coach Federation core competencies are a practical framework to consider skills, knowledge and ethics. Many key competencies can be transposed across into the business world and everyday life to support the highly sought-after talent of “effective communication” or “active listening”. Silence underpins these skills to provide a moment in time to reflect, connect and provide balance to the words. Mocci and Penna elaborate further that “silence is used to underline, to increase the communicative value, both in a positive or negative sense, of a content already defined by the relationship, for instance affection, friendship, feeling of dissatisfaction, that silence shapes”. (2009, p.5). A coach (or indeed considerate conversationalist!) creates sufficient space for equal or more communication time (International Coach Federation, 2012). This incorporation of silence into conversations can initially feel disjointed, uncomfortable and alien; as one of my recent coaching clients explains further:

“The silence and space given to me, as the client, to do the heavy lifting was uncomfortable for me at first. However, that is where the meaningful and life changing awareness sprung forth. I felt supported and believed in all along the way which empowered me”. Brenda, Charity Sector

Grant yourself the luxury of silence to still your mind and open your ears. Welcome this time and space into your day and give your small, still voice hidden deep inside permission to vocalise their thoughts.

Gift your conversational partner a moment to simply finish their sentence. Simply hold the space and allow the opportunity for further reflection or consideration. Enjoy the moment and avoid the temptation to prematurely jump in to fill the gap.

Embrace the Sound of Silence.


Davidson, M. (2009). The Role of Silence In Communication. Accessed: on 5 Jan 17.

Eliot, M. (2010). Paul Simon: A Life. John Wiley and Sons, New Jersey, US.

Huffington, A. (2014). Thrive. Penguin Random House, UK.

International Coach Federation. (2012). Core Competencies. Accessed: on 5 Jan 17.

Mocci, S. & Penna, M.P. (2009). The Systematic Approach to Communicative Silence. Sixth Congress European Congress for Systemic Science. Accessed: on 5 Jan 17.

Simon, P. (1964). The Sound of Silence. Columbia Studios, New York City, US.


About Anna-Marie Watson

Anna-Marie is a Performance Coach with a serious passion for the outdoors who loves to head outside for walking and talking conversations with her clients. She is an accredited Analytic-Network  ( and mBraining ( coach and certified in eDISC and iWAM psychometric profile tools. Anna-Marie is one of the co-leaders for the International Coach Federation Executive and Leadership Community of Practice (

Former British Army Officer, Anna-Marie has been at the forefront of leadership and professional development for over 16 years working with high performing individuals and teams often in challenging environments; from the Norwegian snowy Arctic tundra to sandy deserts of Central Asia. Anna-Marie is also an elite ultra-runner placing 2nd lady in the “toughest footrace on earth” the Marathon des Sables in 2015. Learn more at


Connect with Anna-Marie on Social Media


Emotional Literacy 1, 2, 3

Coach and mentor Dan Newby specialises in emotional literacy and in today’s guest post he discusses a specific coaching conversation and shares some of his knowledge.

Emotional Literacy 1, 2, 3

By Dan Newby

"Emotional literacy 1, 2, 3" A guest post by Dan Newby


“The thing I’d most like to change about myself is my impatience. I don’t like being so impatient but I’ve always been this way”. Those were the words a coachee said to me a few years ago as an explanation for why she wanted coaching. When I heard her I was puzzled because I didn’t have the impression she was especially impatient. She seemed confused when I asked her how she knew that what she was feeling was impatience but told me that is what her parents always called it.

Next, she told me the context that went with their statement. She was the oldest of 4 or 5 children, outgoing, energetic, curious and when she would suggest an activity more than once to her parents their answer was to tell her to “stop being so impatient”. When I asked her if the energy she was feeling and labeling impatience might be some other emotion she came up with several: Excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation, exuberance, joy.

As she considered the meaning of each emotion and the way it felt she realized that although she did experience impatience a small percentage of the time mostly she was experiencing one of the other emotions. For her this made an enormous difference. For almost 40 years she had been calling several different emotions by one name. By doing that she could not differentiate and appreciate the other emotions. Furthermore, her interpretation of impatience was negative and so her self-image had suffered. Once she embraced that she was experiencing enthusiasm, exuberance and joy her self-image shifted considerably.

If you reflect on that scene you’ll realize that we learn many things in this way, through things our parents say, and emotions are one of them. But what if the name your parents are using for an emotion is inaccurate? What if you heard and learned something they weren’t trying to teach you? This type of coaching situation is why I find Emotional Literacy so valuable. If we understand that each emotion is offering us unique information and has a purpose we can begin to befriend and rely on them. We explore them non-judgmentally. If we know that we have a choice between reacting and responding when we feel an emotion they become effective tools.

So where do we start with Emotional Literacy?

Curiously, if you look for a universal definition of what an emotion is you won’t find it. If you look for a single comprehensive list of emotions you won’t find that either. So, to use emotions in this way we need a new understanding of what they are and have the ability to explain them to our coachees. Emotions, for me, are simply “the energy that moves us”. If you think about the “feelings” your body experiences you will notice that each moves you in a different way. The energy of laziness prompts you to rest on the sofa or go to the beach to lay in the sand while the energy of ambition focuses you on taking advantage of possibilities. Jealousy moves you to protect or hold on to someone you care about while joy urges you to celebrate. Although there is no universal list of emotions I work with about 250. This is an enormous range considering that most of us can only identify and articulate 10 or 15.

Emotions each have a unique message or information for us as well. Sadness tells us “we’ve lost something we care about” while envy tells us “we’d like to have something someone else has”. Anger tells us what is unjust and trust tells us we are not taking excessive risk interacting with someone. We can deconstruct every emotion into three parts: 1. The story or information it is offering us, 2. The impulse or reaction and 3. Its purpose or the reason it exists. After 18 years of coaching I find emotions to be one of the most useful and quickest ways to work with coachees.

What are the steps to Emotional Literacy?

To get started there are 3: 1) Listening non-judgmentally to your emotions which, of course, requires you noticing them first, 2) Reflecting on what those emotions are trying to communicate or inform you of and 3) Articulating the story, impulse and purpose of the emotions. Later you’ll be able to connect or group various emotions but the first and most fundamental step is beginning to identify, name and articulate them.

1) Listening: One thing you may notice when you begin listening to your emotions is that you have assessments or judgments about them. Fear, anger and jealous are “bad” emotions while loyalty, love and compassion are “good” emotions. This is not a very helpful way to think about emotions because we generally try to avoid the “bad” ones and experience more of the “good” ones. In this interpretation “emotions are just emotions”. Each one can help us or can get in our way. Without fear we would not survive because we wouldn’t recognize danger but it can also immobilize us so that we are unable to act. So, learning to listen non-judgmentally to the emotions you are experiencing is an important first step.

2) Reflecting: It isn’t always immediately apparent to us why we are feeling the emotion we are. Reflection can help us consider what message the emotion is trying to deliver. Emotions trigger reactions – fear to run away, loyalty to defend, etc. – but that isn’t always the most beneficial thing we can do. Learning to choose our response can sometimes be more effective in the long run. This requires reflection.

3) Articulating: Earlier I said that there are not universal definitions for emotions. This means that they are interpretations and the way I explain love, doubt or envy will be different than the way you do. What is most important is that we have our own clear articulation and that we agree on the interpretation we use in our conversations. When we are coaching, it is vital that the coach and coachee share the same understanding of the emotion they are working with otherwise they are not talking about the same thing.

Once you, the coach, have begun to build your own emotional literacy you can offer it to your coachees. You don’t need to have clarity on all 250 emotions to begin working with them. If you have 10 you are clear on you can begin with those and build your vocabulary from there. Even those 10 are likely to give you a greater range than most of your coachees.

Since emotions are “the energy that move us” they are at the heart and foundation of everything we do and every choice we make. If we want to help our coachees see new possibilities and choose different actions they are a logical place to start.

To take a step forward sign up for a Free Introductory Course on Emotional Literacy at I welcome your insights, learning and feedback.

About Dan Newby

"The Unopened Gift: A Primer in Emotional Literacy"Dan Newby trains and mentors coaches, works with organizations to elevate their emotional literacy, facilitates emotions workshops and is co -author of “The Unopened Gift: A Primer in Emotional Literacy” available on Amazon and Kindle. He lives near Barcelona, Spain and work worldwide with individuals and organizations. He offers on-line training courses in Coaching & Emotions through If you’d like to contact him directly his email address is