How to use the Simple Coaching Circle and TED

to help someone get unstuck

I find it hard when my clients get stuck.

My nature is to rush in and try to save them, to come up with ideas to help them get unstuck.

But you know what happens right?

They get even more stuck.

It’s one of those paradoxes that I love. To get unstuck you need to recognise the truth of what got you stuck in the first place so you can move on from it.

Or put another way, most of the time all people need is to be listened to, they don’t need you to fix their problem for them. And when you give them space, and all of your attention and they know they won’t be interrupted, they often work it out for themselves.

The key for them and you is to stay in a state of exploration.

In the Simple Coaching Circle you stay in exploration with the thinker when you ask them to “Tell me more” or when you summarise back in their words what you’ve heard.

These two techniques are enough, and I’ve often relied on just these.

So I was very excited to learn this acronym that expands on this even more.


As well as asking,
Tell me more…, you can also ask:
Explain – “explain what you think is happening here?”, or
Describe – “describe more about how this is affecting you?”

Questions that ask the thinker to tell, explain and describe help them to stay in exploration and they help you to stay there with them. They are curious not judgemental and they are endlessly adaptable to any conversation.

I encourage you to give them a go, play with how long you can stay within the coaching circle before you step out and give your own input.

And as always drop me a line and tell me how it goes.

My thinking for this piece was inspired by the Gestalt paradoxical theory of change that states you need to own your truth as it is now to be able to move on from it and Karen Dawson who used the TED analogy in a workshop we did together and I knew immediately I had to steal it.
It’s probably going to take more than one conversation to help someone get unstuck and in next weeks letter I’m going talk more about the signs to look out for to know you’re on the right track.

Get in touch if you’d like me to run a workshop for your organisation or network.

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