Student Story: Diana

When I found out about the Coaching Essentials course, I was a recent graduate at the very start of my career.

I studied psychology and statistics so I’ve always been interested in how people think, learn and behave. At the time, I was in my first role in HR in the construction and engineering industry.

It was my aunty who mentioned the course. She worked alongside Caroline (Horner) for a number of years. I immediately accepted when I was offered a place.

Through my aunt, I had a general understanding that coaching practice. From what I did know, I believed it would come in useful, particularly as I’m an extrovert. In conversation, it’s my natural inclination to jump right in with advice.

One of the other reasons I wanted to go on the course was to interact with people in a way that didn’t relate to my experience. For example, when people told me about their situation or an experience, I immediately wanted to relate. This doesn’t leave a lot of room or time for people to fully explore their own situation. Coaching helps myself from someone’s experience, to help them get to the information they need.

I viewed coaching as a bit of a correction for me in that sense. I wanted to be able to have meaningful conversations with people, to really hear what they were saying and support their thinking.

I learned so much about active listening and really hearing and asking the right questions so that I could decipher what someone really needed or wanted. Learning to have effective conversations helps to unclog the uncertainty.

Over the ten-week course, I changed jobs. I became a consultant in the insurance industry, helping programmes deliver industry-wide change.

I found myself supporting a lot of senior executives and director level programme management professionals, all of whom are really busy. What I was able to do immediately was apply the tools and techniques I learned on the course to my everyday work. For example, by asking the right questions.

Before the course, I would’ve probably asked a question without really knowing what or why I was asking it. I would’ve structured the question in such a way as to dictate the answer, rather than creating the space to let the other person think. I immediately applied this to the conversations with my family. The things I learned were totally applicable to both personal and professional life.

What was brilliant was that I had feedback from my line manager that he noticed I was confidently asking the right questions. That was down to the skills I picked up on the course.

The other thing I’ve noticed is that if there is a conflict or disagreement, I’m careful not to ask the question why? The course encouraged me to think about how I use words. Asking why is far more blaming and accusatory than asking how or what. For example, what was it about this that made you do x, y or z.

I would recommend going on the course, in fact, I recommended it to my older sister who has just been promoted to a managerial position in marketing and sales in the tech industry!

Considering Coaching Essentials?

  • If, like me, you like ‘further reading’, this course will provide you with plenty of resources to enhance your understanding. I often find myself referring back to the materials and discovering new resources on the way.
  • I was the youngest person in the group and I admit, I was a little nervous at first. I didn’t know how much I could offer the group and how I would perform next to other people who were industry leaders. What I realised was that you can be anywhere on the spectrum of experience and still learn effectively. I felt comfortable because I understood everyone was there for the same reason.
  • It is an eye opening experience. It really makes you think about how you use language and the ways in which it can unlock and support thinking.
  • It’s really freeing - it opens your mind to think about who you are as a person. Because you learn more about your learning preferences, it releases you so that you can think about other perspectives.