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Effective communication is critical to strong coaching relationships. As a coach, I must be adaptive to differing communication styles and active and empathetic in my listening, all while remaining authentic to myself. In order to continue to build relationships, there are two key elements that must be engaged.


  • As a coach, it is important to remember that everyone has differing communication styles and preferences, and the spectrum can vary based on situation and levels of stress.

  • In order to effectively communicate as a coach, it's important to be adaptable in order to meet different communicators where they are.

  • As a coach, I must remain diligent in looking for evidence of differences in communication styles before feeling frustrated, and recognize that differences are not bad.

  • It's important to consider communication styles before address and communicating something of importance to both parties.

  • Remain patient, and remember that communication needs of equal importance will be met in time.

While remaining conscious of communication style is important for me as a coach and enhances how I build relationships, it is also important for my clients, especially those who lead others. To help my clients better understand how their communication style is perceived by others, one tool that can be used in the Perceptive Communications Assessment. This tool offers a self-assessment that allows clients to assess how they view their own communication style, and it also allows others to answer how they view the client's communication style. This is an excellent tool to help build self-awareness, and it also is useful in helping leaders understand how they style may be impacting others. Additionally, by better understanding the perceived communication styles of my clients, I can build better relationships with them by adapting my style where necessary. 

As a coach, I would use this assessment with clients who are struggling to connect and communicate with their team members, or who are receiving feedback around their communication that is different than how they perceive themselves. While this tool gives excellent insight, it costs money and requires time and input from others. Therefore, I would not use this assessment with a client who doesn't have specific communication goals, even if it might help me better understand their communication style.


The second key element to building relationships is active listening, which includes:

  • Making room for mindfulness and presence in coaching while listening and communication with others.

  • As a coach, I will forget my own experiences while in sessions with my clients - their experience is all that matters in the room.

  • I will summarize, reframe, and check for accuracy to ensure we are moving toward a common goal. (3)

  • As a coach, I will remain empathetic and listen with an open. heart to build trust and intimacy with my clients.

  • Finally, I work to create space through time, silence, and warmth, as I believe this is the key to helping guide toward future possibilities.

Understanding communication styles and actively listening is the cornerstone for building relationships, and it is something I take incredibly seriously and put at the forefront of my coaching engagements.


1. Carlson, R. (2002). Perceptive communication for building effective business relationships. The Carlson/Nathanson Group, Inc.

2. Otto Scharmer (MIT) on the Four Levels of Listening:       

3. Rogers, C.R. & Farson, R.E. (1987). Active listening. In R.G. Newman, M.A. Danzinger & M. Cohen (Eds.), Communicating in Business Today (pp. 1-5). D.C.: Health & Co.

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