‘The Three Core Conditions of a Coaching Relationship’ – Unconditional Positive Regard

Following my last discourse, I discussed ‘Empathy’ as being one of the three core conditions of a successful coaching relationship. It was Carl Rogers (1) who suggested employing this, along with ‘Unconditional Positive Regard’ and ‘Congruence’ as being the vital ingredients that determine the quality of any therapeutic or coaching relationship.

Let us consider the second of these core conditions; ‘Unconditional Positive Regard’. Breaking this down into three definable areas, the dictionary tells us that: Unconditional is described as; unequivocal, complete, total or without condition; Positive as constructive, optimistic or confident and Regard as ‘to consider or think of in a specified way’. This certainly makes it easier to understand, but is there a particular slant or angle that Carl Rogers and other eminent psychologists might have had in mind ? The general view coincides with the above: to communicate with a deep, genuine, non-judgemental attitude of care for their client, with kindness and openness.

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s (2) defines “mindfulness” as being ‘non-judgemental’. This is not to say that in following the path of mindfulness we are unable to make judgements on what is or is not appropriate. Instead the Microsoft Word, built-in thesaurus assists by describing “judgemental” as: critical, condemnatory, negative, disapproving, disparaging or pejorative. These descriptions which, in the context of mindfulness and coaching would be regarded as an anathema to the conduct of any therapeutic activity. Kabat-Zinn goes on to explain that in our non-judgemental attitude of care to our clients, there are also elements of wisdom and compassion; wisdom to accept that things are as they are; not whether they are right of wrong and compassion to shut out that critical commentary on ourselves and others and to treat more kindly what we actually are.

While it is true that there are other factors that if included can lead to a successful coaching relationship. However, it is our assertion that coaches who embody the three core conditions are more likely to establish an efficient coaching relationship than those that do not. Nevertheless, none of us is perfect and there is always room to develop these core specifications further.

Indeed, in normal conversational relationships the same ability to communicate with ‘unconditional positive regard’ will make that communication more effective, fulfilling and therefore more likely to achieve the purpose of the encounter. So there is scope for us all, Coaches and those who don’t coach to learn from this key ingredient of communication.

As already hinted, practicing Mindfulness can be a way of helping us to develop further our ability to employ properly the attitude of ‘Unconditional Positive Regard’ and ultimately any form of communication, particularly in a coaching relationship.

(1) Carl Rogers was an American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach to psychology.
(2) Jon Kabat-Zinn was an American professor emeritus of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society. Kabat-Zinn was the creator of The mindfulness-based stress reduction programme (MBSR) widely used by clinicians and recommended by the UK NHS as method of reducing stress.


About adob4sight

I am a coach, facilitator, and coach supervisor who works with key decision makers in business as well as private individuals, helping them maximise performance at work or in their lives outside the workplace. At 4sight Communications we work predominently with individuals in a one-to-one relationship facilitating the adaption of behaviours and attitudes to improve performance. Particular areas around which assistance is sought are: communications, leadership, relationships, work/life balance, addressing change and conflict, time management, goal setting and clarifiation of values. We also conduct team facilitation and coaching for middle ranking and senior teams of up to 10 persons. We are qualified to administer and interpret a series of psychometric assessments - ranging from 'personality profiling' to measuring an individual's 'mental toughness quotient'. All assessments are followed up with one-to-one sessions clarifying and facilitating areas indentified for development. One of the psychometrics used can be adapted for the recruitment of senior staff with the organisation able to input criteria for a particular post. We have qualified coaching supervisors who will provide a service for both professional coaches as well as 'internal company' coaches to ensure that not only the coach his/herself is properly developed, but also the interests of the client/coachee are served and ethics are adhered to. If you are interested in any of the 'above', get in touch !
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