Coaching – Three important factors to hone your craft


The psychologists tell us that batching things in threes is a powerful way of communicating – three is the magic number, as the saying (or the song by De La Soul) goes! This is because the Rule of Three suggests that things which come in threes are more: memorable; satisfying and effective. The Latin phrase “omne trium perfectum” (everything that comes in threes is perfect, or, every set of three is complete) conveys this idea too.

Think back to your childhood, for example, where you would have learnt your ABC, 123 and 3Rs (Reading, wRiting and aRithmetic), along with stories and nursery rhymes about: 3 blind mice, Goldilocks & the 3 bears, 3 little pigs, to name but a few! This principle follows us in to adulthood too: Going, going, gone; Location, location location; Blood, sweat and tears; Veni, vidi, vici; Liberte, egalite, fraternite. I’m sure that you can think of many more that have stuck over the years.

In this blog, I’m taking the Rule of Three and using it to highlight how, I think, it applies to coaching. You’ll then be able to use the Rule of Three to consider your own coaching approach and the extent to which you hold and demonstrate 3 important factors.


Attitude – your way of thinking and feeling 

Beliefs – what, as a Coach, you hold to be true

Skills – the expertise you bring to your role as a Coach.

Each of these factors will help you to be the type of Coach who allows other people (your coachees) to do and be their best.

For the purposes of this blog, I’m using the Tim Gallwey (Harvard Business School) definition of Coaching: Coaching is unlocking a person’s own potential to maximise their performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.



There are 3 key ways of thinking and feeling that help you to support your Coachee to find their own solutions and way forward:

1.  Calm – your state of mind meaning that you are free from agitation or disturbance allowing you to create a tranquil environment which gives your Coachee the time, space and atmosphere to consider their own context in detail.

2.  Curious – being genuinely interested in what your Coachee is thinking, feeling and wanting to achieve.

3.  Patient – having the ability to wait something out; to give your Coachee time to think and consider their thoughts and feelings.


The 3 core beliefs that help you to be an effective Coach are:

1. My Coachee has the potential to find their own answer(s)

2.  My role is to help them find their answer, for which they will be responsible

3.  I do that by creating an atmosphere of trust and openness

Being clear about the roles and responsibilities of both the Coach and Coachee helps you to determine the scope of the relationship and achieve CLARITY about who takes responsibility for what as the relationship progresses.



There are many skills that a Coach can bring to the relationship but amongst the top three are:

1.  Questioning – asking open questions to enable your Coachee to change perspective and focus on possible solutions. These are vital to move the conversation forward, rather than being stuck in one place.

There are 3 questions that will never let you down and can be applied at any stage of a coaching conversation. (Check out our previous blog for the GROW Model to structure coaching conversations.)

What do you think?

The AWEsome question:  And What Else….. (do I need to know; can you tell me about the situation, etc?)

Tell me… (not technically a question but a great way to open up any stage of your coaching conversation).

2. Listening – Someone once said to me “Are you really listening or are you just waiting to speak?”. It has stuck with me for many years because, at the moment it was said, I realised that I wasn’t REALLY listening and my partner realised that pretty quickly. Imagine what that did to building an open and trustful relationship!

You can listen in 3 main ways. By:

Using Silence, Giving Non-verbal assurances, such as nodding or smiling, and Summarising/ para-phrasing what has and hasn’t been said.

3. Reflecting – to help your coachee think more deeply or carefully about what they’ve said and to check back with themselves that this was what they meant. You can do this in the following 3 ways. 

Saying “It sounds like ….” (To test your understanding of what’s been said)

Offering the idea back to show you’ve understood the message

Slowing down the conversation to allow the Coachee time to think and process what they’ve said. For example: carry on; what happened next?


How do you measure up to the using the Rule of Three as a Coach?

What do you need to strengthen, if anything?

What would the people whom you coach say about your Attitude, Beliefs and Skills?

How about taking the opportunity to find out? Perhaps by asking ‘What do you think….. about my coaching approach?’!

Posted by Caroline Lewis



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