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Appreciative Coaching

The Coaching Relationship

The relationship between coach and coachee is essential to the practice of appreciative coaching, and strong relationships must be developed if successful coaching is to take place. “To become a practitioner of appreciative coaching is to accept a core belief about our clients and how they change...” (Orem, Binkert, & Clancy, 2007, p. 83). If we look at others as mysteries to be solved, we begin to appreciate their unique spirit and can become involved with them on a personal basis. The importance of building a personal coaching relationship cannot be overlooked, nor can the relationship between communication and roles. I will discuss all of these aspects in the words to come, and will evaluate this weeks readings as they pertain to my view of appreciative coaching.

Importance of Building a Relationship

Like all relationships in our lives, the coach/coachee relationship takes work. “At its core, the coaching relationship is a strong personal connection between two individuals that typically occurs out of public view and whose workings may even appear mysterious to outsiders” (Ting & Scisco, 2006, p. 36). The development of trust through mutual commitment, rapport, and collaboration help the coach and coachee open up to each other; another essential in the coaching relationship.

Have you ever had to have a deep and meaningful conversation with someone you didn’t trust? What were the results? Did you find yourself holding back? I know I would. I don’t trust a lot of people and opening up to others is something I struggle with. I would need to know that my coach was going to see these sessions through to the end, that she was committed to my success, and that she cared about the result. That kind of trust can only come from building a relationship founded on mutual respect and appreciation, and must be followed up with understanding without judgment.

Communication and Roles

Building a trusting relationship requires strong communication skills on both sides. Without communication, any relationship will struggle as compatibility, commitment, and trust are questioned and evaluated. This is especially true in a coaching relationship between a manager and a direct report. Employees can be slow to open up, and may be afraid to tell ‘the boss’ too much about what they think and feel for fear of retaliation. This can be especially true for members of senior management who seek coaching from those beneath them in the company hierarchy.

“Even if they feel something is missing in their leadership, they [executives] are often unable to get others to confirm or talk openly about that possibility” (Ting & Scisco, 2006, p. 149). That has to be tough on them. Imagine not being able to get an open, honest opinion when you feel you are lacking certain skills. It’s hard enough for a senior level executive to ask for help or admit weakness, and perhaps harder still for them to be completely open to the coaching process. My job as a leader coach is to help the leader open up by committing to being honest in my evaluation, and committed to the relationship while remaining open and nonjudgmental.


The relationship between coach and coachee is an important aspect of appreciative coaching. The coachee must be able to be open in sharing her dreams and desires while the coach must be open to sharing without prejudice or judgment. Both parties must be committed to the relationship and willing to communicate their wants and needs as they pertain to the coaching sessions they will conduct. Communication is essential in this relationship, and though roles may sometimes be reversed, it’s important that whoever is coaching and whomever is being coached remember that this is a personal relationship that should not be subject to outside scrutiny.


Orem, S., Binkert, J., & Clancy, A. (2007). Appreciative Coaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ting, S., & Scisco, P. (2006). The CCL handbook of coaching. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.