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Building trust and relationship planning

The most significant coaching skills involve communications skills, specifically the listening skills and skills in providing constructive feedback.  They are the ingredients in establishing a good rapport with the coachee, developing trust and building the relationship.

How to be a good communicator:  techniques for successful communication 

As a WECoach, communication has to be at the heart of the relationship with the coachee. The following is not an exhaustive answer to the question "How to be a good communicator?" but few good practices and activities to give you some keys to better communicate with your coachee.

Best practices about communication skills

The Council of Europe provides techniques for successful facilitation (Council of Europe, 2009) which can be useful as a WECoach to be a good communicator, for a group or individually :

Good practices

Tips for WECoach



It’s a key listening skill and it allows you and your coachee to ensure that the message has been understood or not. Your mentee will feel also listened.

*You can use your own words to say what you think your coachee said (and then ask her if she agree or if she wants to explain again).


*You can reword using these expressions:

“So in your opinion…”

“You mean that…”

“As I understand…”

“In other words…”

“To a certain degree…”



It is a form of paraphrase, in which you can repeat your coachee’s exact words.

*You can repeat back key words and/or phrases. Try to repeat words or phrases that focus on solutions, not problems!



It allows the coachee to feel listened in a caring atmosphere. If you step out of the observation and you are assessing/judging, she is likely to hear criticism which will not allow an effective communication.

*You can avoid using adverbs such as "always", "never", "every time", "all the time" for exaggeration because it may contribute to confusion between observation and assessment/judgment.



- You never answer my calls. (assessment/judgment)


- I called you several times and you didn't answer. (observation)



It’s a way to create a trustful relationship with the coachee by giving her the opportunity to participate.


*In a group of coachees, you can use these expressions:

“Who else has an idea?”

“Is this discussion raising questions for anyone else?”

“Let’s hear from someone who hasn’t spoken for a while?”


*Remember that silence does not mean consent. In a group session, or sometimes in individual, you can provide welcome assistance to individuals who do not feel safe enough to express themselves.



It’s a pause to give your coachee brief “extra quiet time” to discover what she wants to say.

* You have to stay focused on your coachee and do not say anything during few seconds. You have to stay calm and attentive.


*You can use body language to see if the coachee needs time to clear her thoughts.

You can use body language. Just stay relaxed and pay attention.

 The motivational interviewing approach: techniques of the OARS

Under the Erasmus+ project EURO-IVET, a European partnership developed a guide (2018) of training and pedagogical tools for vocational education and training trainers. It provides an introduction to motivational interviewing technique. As a WECoach, it’s interesting to use it if the coachee is losing its motivation to change.

The motivational interviewing was founded by Drs. William R. Miller & Stephen Rollnick in 1991. It’s defined as “a directive, client-centred counselling style for eliciting behaviour change by helping clients to explore and resolve ambivalence.” “Compared with non directive counselling, it is more focused and goal-directed. The examination and resolution of ambivalence is its central purpose, and the counsellor is intentionally directive in pursuing this goal.” (Miller & Rollnick, 2009).

Motivational interviewing evolved from the addiction field and it now applies to many different areas as mental health, primary health care - including diabetes, weight change, nutrition, medication adherence, gambling, smoking, etc.

The traditional approach is based on the idea that change is motivated by discomfort, that people have to “hit bottom” and suffer enough to be ready for change. By contrast, the motivational interviewing approach is about:

  • Motivate people by an accepting, empowering, and safe atmosphere and collaboratively working towards change;
  • Respect for people autonomy – supporting and affirming their choices and decisions;
  • Work to evoke the ideas, opinions, reasons to change and client confidence that change is possible.

Open minded questions, affirmation, reflective listening, and summary reflections (OARS) are the interaction techniques and skills that are used in the motivational interviewing approach (Appendix 3).

 The importance of taking a global view of the coachee's situation

A French qualitative study conducted among women entrepreneurs (in Nancy area) entitled “Barriers and Obstacles to Women's Entrepreneurship” (Badia, Brunet & Kertudo, 2013) shows that people who support women entrepreneurs cannot focus only on their business creation projects. They have to take into account the overall situation of the women. As WeCan project, the study begins with the observation that women's entrepreneurship is specific because it faces challenges related to the close interconnection of the professional and family spheres. Indeed, as a coach, it is crucial to understand the elements that constitute the coachee's desire to create a business. The study underlines that it is necessary to take into account: the previous professional career, the motivations, but also and above all the social context and the family and personal resources available to women.

As a WECoach, you can imagine all sorts of different activities to get to know your mentees better. Three activities have been selected in order to give you examples:

  • Appendix 4: Introduce oneself through a blazon
  • Appendix 5: 10 experiences to live
  • Appendix 6: SWOT

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Hélène Seigneur, EU Project Manager

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