Empathic coaching conversation

Empathetic Coaching Conversation | HRDQU
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In the world of coaching, the words empathic, coaching, and conversation hold distinct significance. Among these, “coaching” takes center stage, with “empathic” acting as the guiding adjective and “conversation” serving as the primary tool. This blog will delve into the heart of coaching conversation, while subsequent posts will explore the nuances of “empathic” and “coaching.” It’s crucial to recognize that an “empathic coaching conversation” is a unique entity within Conversational Intelligence that stands apart from other forms of coaching or psychotherapy.

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Coaching: A complex conversational intelligence endeavor

Coaching, at its core, is a conversational endeavor, a complex interaction where mental thoughts are exchanged between individuals. Unlike mind-reading, which remains an unattainable skill, coaching relies on effective communication through conversation. Conversations inherently involve a dynamic exchange of ideas, thoughts, and emotions, as brilliantly elucidated by Judith Glaser in her work on Conversational Intelligence in the book “Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results.” Furthermore, Glaser categorizes conversations into three levels, starting from the basic sharing of information in level 1, progressing to a positional status struggle in level 2, and culminating in level 3, where two individuals engage in a transformative, co-creative exchange, delving deep into shared thoughts and emotions.

Additionally, Uri Hasson’s research in the TED talk “This is your brain on communication” has revealed that two brains can synchronize when exposed to similar words, emphasizing the importance of common ground in human interaction. In essence, the people we connect with define our identity, highlighting the significance of effective communication in shaping our relationships.

Nancy Kline’s Theory of Listening

Another invaluable perspective on conversation comes from Nancy Kline, author of “Time to Think: Listening to Ignite the Human Mind.” Kline’s work emphasizes the pivotal role of attentive listening, which she terms a “Thinking Environment.” She outlines ten fundamental steps, starting with the acknowledgment of human equality and the practice of respectful, uninterrupted listening. Moreover, Kline’s philosophy underscores the power of quality attention in facilitating clear thinking and catalyzing transformation. The key takeaway is that the quality of attention we offer shapes the quality of others’ thinking. Just as Glaser and Hasson extol the virtues of speaking, Kline emphasizes the importance of listening in the conversation equation.

The two sides of the coin: Speaking and listening

In conclusion, effective conversation and Conversational Intelligence is a two-sided coin, encompassing both speaking and listening. This dynamic interplay demands courage, humility, and a recognition of human equality free from bias. Just as speaking must be marked by sincerity, humility, and common ground, listening requires openness, attentiveness, respect, and a willingness to share and learn without judgment. Also, as Uri Hasson aptly suggests, we must find common ground with one another, for the people we engage with ultimately define who we are. In our exploration of “empathic coaching conversation,” we unearth the profound significance of this tool, which serves as the foundation of personal and professional growth. In future discussions, we will delve into the realms of “empathic” and “coaching,” further unraveling the intricacies of this transformative journey.


Glaser, Judith E., (2016); Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. Bibliomotion, Inc., New York, N.Y.
Kline, Nancy (1999); Time to Think, Listening to Ignite the Human Mind, Cassell Illustrated, London, UK
Hasson, U. (2017). This is your brain on communication. ideas.ted.com. https://ideas.ted.com/this-is-your-brain-on-communication/

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Dr. Judith Cardenas

Judith Cardenas, Ph.D., is the President and CEO of Strategies By Design ⇗, a consulting firm specializing in behavior design and innovation. She holds a Doctorate in education administration and training and leadership development from Harvard. With certifications in corporate coaching, ROI, innovation, and service design, she has served clients such as the UN, US Navy, and MIT.

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