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Coaching by phone: the pros and cons

Marianne Bartels

Marianne Bartels

Counsellor, Coach, Businessperson and Entrepreneur

Not so long ago, I did my first telephone coaching. It had been the intention for a long time, because after all, we have been living on St. Maarten since August, and what do you do when you love your work so much? Lazing on the beach, shopping, reading books is wonderful, but for a busy bee like me …….. So I got the idea to set up online coaching. This was well before the Corona era! How wonderful it can be. In March the time came that we all had to work at home because of Covid 19. A challenge for everyone. My existing clients were confronted with first video – calling, which was not really my thing. I don’t know exactly why, but it distracted me from feeling the real thing. Soon I switched to coaching by phone.

And funnily enough, it soon felt familiar and intimate. Even if I have never seen clients before, they say that the conversations feel familiar. Trust grows through and is related to disclosure, self-disclosure and strangely enough it is easier to be open when you are in a virtual setting.

As a counsellor you also really get to know someone’s voice, you notice when things are going better. The voice is your only source of information together with the content of what is being said.

You pay attention to intonation, rhythm, silences. You learn to listen even better, without being distracted by externals. Another advantage is that you can both take notes without losing focus. Without it looking rude, because you lose eye contact. You only have to listen to what is said and how it is said and what is not said between the sentences. Telephone coaching: “it really works very intensely and gives deep insights.

And what about skyping? Or facetiming?

Research shows that coaching by phone is more effective than skype or facetime. When I first heard that, I did not believe it. After all, you have just a little more communication channels? At least you get to see someone! Yet that is only partly true. Images are often delayed, there is no real eye contact. I find that these video images actually only distract from the message and I often just switch off the video channel.

A few more practical tips for the coach and the coachee:

  1. Choose a quiet room where you can make calls alone
  2. Use internet or telephony that is stable and have good range: poor connection can be very annoying, for example at very reflective moments
  3. Do not work, drive or read during the session: how tempting to check your email or social media, no one sees you anyway?
  4. Take plenty of time for the session, don’t try to squeeze it in between other appointments. Just like a face-to-face session, you need time to land and reflect.

Counseling For You, always a listening ear when you need it!

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