What is a communication coach?

What is a communication coach?

Communication is the key to achieving a lot in the world, so when communication does not come as easy, it can be not easy to move forward in a career or effectively negotiate for something that you want.  This is where the skills and work of a communication coach may come in.  Communication coaches are becoming a common option for both individuals and groups looking to develop a way to effectively convey their wants, needs, and dreams to those around them.  By practicing and building up skills that will help their clients feel confident in their abilities, communication coaches provide their clients with the confidence to accomplish their goals with communication and avoid confusion, misunderstandings, and microaggressions.  They understand that communication and the ability to communicate come different to each person, but they are also skilled at finding ways to help each client succeed.  This article will explore the role of the communication coach, the skills they teach, and how they teach them, and then explore some of the benefits provided by receiving coaching.   

Communication Coach Explained: 

To put it simply, a communication coach is someone who helps others identify and develop the habits that will help them be heard and responded to effectively.  These are most common within business teams that need help achieving a specific goal or communicating with each other better, but any person can work with a communication coach to develop their communication skills.  Three are a variety of reasons that someone may need to work with a communication coach to help them communicate clearly.  Some of the common factors that affect a person’s ability to communicate clearly include: 

  • Fear:  Likely the biggest issue that many people face when communicating is a fear of some sort.  Many fears play a role in the way that we communicate.  It could be the fear of public speaking making it difficult for a person to show their work off in a presentation.  It could be a fear of rejection that stops someone from communicating their ideas or feelings with another.  A coach can help a person identify the fear and work consistently to overcome it to help them communicate effectively in whatever capacity is necessary.  
  • Culture: Culture often plays a role in the way that we communicate with the world around us and with each other.  Some cultures value direct communication with each other, while other cultures value gentle communication.  Conflict is also seen differently in various cultures.  Culture also includes the region of the country that one grew up in and the way they experienced communication as a child.  Communication coaches can help identify these differences, see where they are causing a person or team stress, and can help them find a way to avoid these issues.  
  • Personality: Personality can play a large role in a person’s ability to communicate effectively as well. Some people are assertive and able to share their opinions easily, but they may not always have the best reception when sharing them.  Others will not share their ideas easily, but they can help soften the way that other people’s opinions come across.  A communication coach can help people identify their strengths and use them effectively based on their personality to communicate how they need to.  This can be a team dynamic or an individual.  
  • Language: Another reason that someone may need a communication coach is a language barrier that is interfering with the way that a person or team can communicate. This can be because the parties are communicating in a new language for the first time or the team is international and they have a variety of languages to consider.  A coach can help the parties understand what they would like to say and how to communicate that effectively.  A coach can also help those who speak the majority language learn to speak clearly to aid those that may not fully understand the language. 
  • Specific Conversations: At times, there will be a specific conversation that will be difficult for a person to navigate.  These are often big life changes, such as children, divorce, marriage, hiring, firing, quitting a job, and other similar situations.  Understanding the fear surrounding these is normal, but some people will still be completely unable to have the conversations.  A communication coach may be able to help them identify the roadblocks to the conversation and move toward being able to face the uncomfortable conversation.  

Coaches help people overcome the barriers that they face every day and achieve the results they would like out of their communication.  

Skills that Communication Coaches Teach: 

Communication coaches can help clients work to develop certain skills to help improve communication.  While each coach will tailor the skills to those that will most benefit their client, some common skills would likely benefit anyone who signs up for coaching. These skills will help clients both speak and listen effectively.  While a person may be a gifted speaker, if they are not communicating their needs effectively, they will not be met.  Learning how to do this effectively includes: 

  • Persuasion: One of the biggest skills that a person could use to effectively communicate with others is the skill of persuasion.  Persuasion is the skill of presenting one’s needs and wants in a way that others will agree with the view. It is the art of gathering others around a point of view, and it is a difficult skill to accomplish.  Coaches can help people understand the strengths and weaknesses of a position and can help craft an argument.  
  • Negotiation: Persuasion and negotiation are similar, but negotiation is the art of speaking with another to achieve a goal. It tends to be more focused persuasion with a very specific goal, and it can require a different kind of communication to advance the goal.  It typically involves understanding where to start to end at the right result.  It also involves understanding when to compromise and when to stand firm.  A coach can help a client understand when and where to use these techniques to their advantage in a negotiation.  
  • Confidence: Confidence is a large part of communicating effectively. Others can tell when someone is not confident in their position or ideas when they present them. It can be difficult to find confidence, but there are ways to alter or at with confidence even if it is not fully authentic.  A communication coach can see what is happening with their confidence and help them deliver their ideas with strength.  
  • Conflict: Conflict is never easy to deal with, and when communication is not a strong suit, conflict can be even more complicated. Learning how to respond to and resolve conflict well can be beneficial for everyone on a team.  Communication coaches can help teams identify conflict and resolve it, and they can also help individuals learn how to respond better to conflict.  
  • Leadership: Occasionally, people will be put in leadership positions and they will have a hard time communicating what they want or need to their team.  This can be difficult if a person is good at their job but not good at communicating or leading others.  Influence plays a major role in the way that a leader can accomplish their goals, and a coach can help them work with their team, find their influence, and set good boundaries around their work.  Leadership is not easy, but a communication coach can help make leadership easier to do.    
  • Emotional Intelligence: An important aspect of leadership is emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to see and understand emotions both in oneself and others.  Knowing how to recognize emotions helps leaders understand when their team needs different things or a change in pace.  It also helps a leader respond well to different reactions and know when they need to address conflict or challenges.  Communication coaches can help develop emotional intelligence by illustrating the emotions that need to be recognized and helping clients understand them.  
  • Listening: For some people, communication may not be lacking in the way that they share their own opinions, but their difficulties lie in how they listen to others.  Communication is a two-way street, and listening makes up at least half of the conversation. Learning how to listen helps the clients of a coach engage with others more effectively and be better communicators all around.  
  • Writing: Another important aspect of communication is written communication.  Writing can be difficult, as there is not the same face-to-face interaction where you can evaluate tone and nonverbal cues, so the communication must be clear and avoid language that could be problematic or interpreted incorrectly.  Coaches can help with both specific writing or communication through writing in general.  

These are only some of the skills that a communication coach can assist with.  Coaches will develop skills related to communication that each client needs to succeed.  

How Communication Coaches Work: 

Communication coaches help their clients learn how to communicate effectively through teaching the skills above and many more.  It is also important to learn how these coaches accomplish these goals. Some common exercises that communication coaches use include: 

  • Role-Playing: This is the most common exercise that communication coaches will use with their clients.  The coach will assume the role of the other person in a conversation that the client needs or wants to have.  They will then practice communicating with each other effectively. This will usually involve the client running through the same conversation a few times, but the coach will respond in various ways to help the client respond well in a few scenarios.  This can help build confidence and encourage the client that they can communicate effectively.  
  • Conflict: Communication coaches can help a client learn how to respond to and handle conflict.  This can be through learning how to respond to microaggressions or other comments that cause distress.  Learning how to respond well at the moment can help the client feel confident moving forward with the conversation and learn how to address issues quickly.  
  • Review Written Communication: A common practice when communication coaches are focusing on written communication with a client.  This can include ensuring that the writing matches the goals of the communication and that the tone of the writing matches the audience.  
  • Pronunciation Games: Particularly with non-native English speakers, communication coaches may help with pronunciation to help them feel more confident in their speaking.  This can often be accomplished through games that challenge pronunciation and encourage the clients to work on different words and phrases.  

These are only some examples of the ways that communication coaches help their clients understand their strengths and how to develop them.  

Benefits of Communication Coaches: 

To truly understand communication coaches, it is important to assess the value of coaches by examining the benefits of receiving coaching for communication.  These benefits include: 

  • Accountability:  Communication coaches provide accountability for their clients by setting realistic goals for their clients to engage in communication that does not come naturally and then working through that communication with them.  Knowing that the coach will be asking about the interaction, later on, the client is more likely to complete the task and have something to report, helping their communication overall. 
  • Prioritization: Learning what is the most important part of a person’s social interaction can be vital to helping them achieve their goals.  Many people are distracted by a variety of goals when approaching social interactions and are unable to communicate well.  Coaches can help the clients understand what is important to them and help them focus on that.  
  • Self-Talk: A person who is struggling to communicate may be participating in negative self-talk that is limiting their ability to communicate well. A communication coach can help identify these patterns and reframe them in a way that helps the client understand weaknesses, but also see how to use those weaknesses to challenge and develop themselves.  They can also help avoid the overwhelming self-talk that says that a client is bad at all communication and instead encourage their clients to feel confident in that conversation.  

Communication coaches are helpful for many clients to achieve their communication goals and begin to feel more confident in their abilities.  Coaching can bring many benefits to a client and help them socialize and work more effortlessly.  

Mark Fotohabadi
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