Coach Speak

by Arlene.

All groups have a language of their own and coaching is no exception. Not infrequently new coaches are faced with talking to mentors and ICFA members who use syntax and words differently from everyday life. This description of key terms is not exclusive however may help you in the beginning.

Welcome Pack

This can either be a contact letter or a pack of information on how you expect the coaching relationship to proceed. Questionnaires, goal setting material or thought provoking information may be part of this. May contain tips and hints on what the client can expect from the coach and what the coach expects from the client.

Coachability Index

Some coaches use this to determine if the client is ready to be coached. It offers the client an opportunity to self-select whether coaching is appropriate. May contain questions in relation to asking how they wish to be coached, whether they will be able to afford the investment in the coach, or how they will behave during and after sessions.

Coaching Agreement

This is a statement of the main points of the contract between the coach and the client. It offers the coach an opportunity to state the ground rules, e.g. call or start on time, how many sessions per month/ quarter, cancellation details, termination details, costs and any disclaimers.

My coaching agreement is based on Coach U* Guidelines

Because you are fully responsible for your own life and business decisions the liability for the consequences of following a course of action is yours. I acknowledge that the coaching relationship with People Performance Plus is not therapeutic in nature or intent and does not deal with issues where counselling or therapy may be appropriate.

Standards of Conduct

In order to assure their client many coaches include their standards of conduct in relation to the coaching. As a minimum this should include information on confidentiality, how material will be handled under the Privacy Act, level of competence to coach, acknowledgement that they will advise the client should they no longer be able to coach or they require other interventions.

Insights and Shifts

During the coaching sessions, clients are requiring the coach to assist them to recognise changes in their thinking about why they have requested coaching. They ask the coach to share insights, the points they may not be aware of in the conversations that can lead to them shifting their own perspective on life or work.


Distinctions are opportunities to expand the conversation to assist the client to “see” more than is at first thought to be there. Making a distinction between what they are asking for and how they run their life now, can challenge the client to alter patterns of behaviour to be more goal supportive.

Wins and acknowledgements

These are the stuff of coaching. Taking a client from a place of negativity about how they may approach people and work through to sharing small wins. Then coaching them to acknowledge their ability to grow positively with or without a coach is an integral part of coaching. Sports Coaches call these reaching Personal Bests (PBs).

The descriptions above are representational of Arlene Quinn’s thoughts and not attributed to any particular School of Coaching unless stated.

* CoachU is a coach training university.