Developing People Thinking through Brain Based Coaching by Sirirat Siriwan
‘Developing People Thinking through Brain-Based
Coaching’ by Sirirat Siriwan
on International Coach Federation Blog
Brain-Based Coaching is a coaching approach focused on developing people
thinking. Based on the understanding of how the brain works, a coach will be able
to effectively conduct coaching conversation that facilitates people thinking to
unleash people potential to produce highest positive results.
It’s all about Connection!
The brain is a connection machine. We have learned new things by making
connections of information; thinking, memories, feelings, emotions. There are a lot
of connections or maps in our brain. Coaching is helping people make a connection
to understand, learn and develop. The most significant part is how to create long
lasting development or hardwiring our brains. Habit, perception, or the ways we
see the world are the results of hardwiring our brains. If we can change our
perceptions, we will be able to change our lives. In organizations, if an employee
can change the way they look at situations, their behavior, performance, and results
will be changed as well.
Coaching and Prefrontal Cortex (PFC)
PFC is a very small part of our brain. It is a logical part of the brain. Of course, its
responsibilities are to think, recall, and make decisions. It needs a lot of energy and
resources to operate the best. An appropriate amount of dopamine and adrenaline
are also required for its best performance. PFC will operate information as serial or
one thing at a time. A coach who understands how PFC works will communicate
with the coachee in a way that supports PFC’s best operation. A coach will not
provide too much information to coachee. A coach will ask questions, clarify, or
give feedback in a succinct and specific way. The words a coach uses will be
simple and relevant to coachee background to be easy to understand.
Coaching and The Limbic System
The Limbic System is an emotional part of the brain. Its task is to make the human
alive. It will scan what is happening around us and identify it as a ‘threat’ or
‘reward’ and respond to it by putting us in two opposite emotional states. If the
limbic system has identified the situation or stimulus as a threat, it will put us in
the ‘away’ state. For example; during a coaching conversation, a coach is judging
the way a coachee thinks about himself. A coachee can feel this judgment by the
words the coach has used and his facial expressions. In this kind of interaction, a
coachee has perceived a coach reaction as a threat and put him in the away state.
He cannot move forward to make progress in the coaching process. The coachee
doesn’t trust his coach anymore. So, a coach who understands how the limbic
system works will not put his coachee in this away state. Instead, a coach will
demonstrate emphatic listening and show understanding without any judgment.
This treatment will put a coachee in toward state, which is the key factor for
The Impact of The Limbic System on PFC
Without knowledge about the brain, when we have emotion of anger or frustration,
we cannot think through the situation clearly. Our emotional state impacts our
capability to think reasonably and consciously. This logic explains how the limbic
system affects PFC ability to function the best. When the limbic system arouses
and puts coachee in the away state, the resources used for PFC function will be
reduced and that creates negative impact on PFC performance.
As a coach, it’s very significant to make sure a coachee is in toward state, by
creating trust. A coach can build trust by communicating honesty, sincerity, but
also be mindful, as well as showing acknowledgement of a coachee strengths and
efforts. Nobody likes to be judged, people need to be listened to deeply. To do
these, a coach is giving a reward to a coachee’s brain, and this reward will make
PFC work efficiently.
The role of a coach is a trusted partner of coachee during their challenging journey
to discover, learn, and grow inside. Having knowledge of how the brain works will
be significant advantage for a coach in creating trust and helping coachee to move
forward easily and effectively.