Extract © Nick Drake-Knight
The Complete Guide to Continue & Begin Fast Coaching®
Drake-Knight,N., Pollinger, 2016.
Plagiarists will be ridiculed mercilessly.

CB_0026 How was school today

When we communicate, we inadvertently (and sometimes intentionally) deliver an impoverished version of meaning. We minimise opportunities for understanding through our poor accuracy of language. This is a common feature of coachee communication. Coachees do this through precision failures, one of which may be defined as Deletion.

Deletion is an omission of parts of an intended message. The speaker does not include important information in the ‘transmission’.

Here are some examples, with the final example followed by a useful Deletion Buster question:

“I need some help”
“If I could just get better at it”
“I don’t know what to do”
“It’s never going to work”
“It’s too difficult”
“Today was awful”
“I just don’t feel up to it”
“They know I don’t like it”

“The project is not going well”
“Which project isn’t going well? In what way, specifically, is it not going well? What causes you to think it’s not going well?”

Notice how these spoken statements are missing important additional content – the deletion of the full representation of meaning.

Coachees are no different from any other group of people; we all delete from time to time. In fact, it’s a wonder we manage to communicate effectively at all!

Impoverished communication occurs in all forms of human interaction; but when it impacts on personal performance, it’s time to take action to improve understanding and take targeted action!

Seeking Precision – Asking Specificity Questions

If you’ve built up rapport and trust your coachee is more likely to reveal her inner thinking. Asking good questions helps to uncover the experience, meaning or feeling of your coachee.

Let’s take Deletion: few coaches have been trained to address Deletion of language. Fortunately it’s a relatively simple skill set to learn. Let’s take some impoverished statements listed in the Deletion examples above and add in a few more. Getting inside your coachee’s world can be helped by using Specificity Questions.

The specificity questions proposed below will provide more information to work with, offering a greater chance of exploring choices and options. Notice the use of the words, how, what, which, specifically, exactly, precisely.

Remember, we’re not solution finding at this stage, simply gaining clarity of meaning from the coachee.

Deletion e.g. missing out parts of the message:

“I need some help on this”
“Ok, you need help regarding what, specifically?”

“If I could just get better at it”
“What specifically would you like to be better at? In what way precisely?”

“I don’t know what to do”
“You don’t know what to do about what, specifically?”

“It’s never going to work”
“In what way is it not going to work, exactly?”

“It’s too difficult”
“In what way is it too difficult?”

“Today was awful”
“How was it awful, exactly?”

“I just don’t feel up to it”
“What precisely do you not feel up to?”

“They know I don’t like it”
“Who specifically? What is it you think they know they don’t like, exactly?”

“I need some help…”
“Ok, great, how can I help you exactly?”

“I’m struggling with the kids…”
“Ok, what specifically about the kids are you struggling with?”

“It’s no good, I can’t do it”
“What is it you say you can’t do, exactly?”

“My health is suffering because of this”
“In what way exactly is your health suffering? What specifically is it that is causing your health to suffer?”

“I don’t have enough confidence to make presentations”
“Confidence to make which sort of presentations, exactly?”

“I can’t close, I’m just rubbish at asking for the business”
“In which circumstances, specifically, do you think you are rubbish at asking for the business?”

“I need to get this finalised soon, it’s urgent”
“Ok, when specifically would you like it finalised by?”

“I’m not clever enough to go to university”
“Not clever enough to do what at university, exactly?