Reviews of Simplifying Coaching

Reviews of Simplifying Coaching

Simplifying Coaching book cover

11 May 2022

We recently read Simplifying Coaching: How to Have More Transformational Conversations by Doing Less by Claire Pedrick in the EMCC UK Book Club. Claire Caine and Sally Twisleton write below with their thoughts and responses to the book.

‘A book I will return to again and again as a way of reminding myself to keep the coaching simple and pure’
Review by Claire Caine

This book is written for anyone with an interest in coaching who is looking to improve their coaching style in the workplace. It is ideal for people who are working to complete their studies and gain accreditation from any of the coaching bodies.

Simplifying Coaching is not a large book, but there is clarity and a powerful simplicity to the message that coaching is about a conversation where the coach works in complete partnership with the ‘thinker’, ensuring that the conversation is rightsized to fit the time available and focused on the needs of the thinker. Various examples and metaphors are used throughout the book to reinforce the message of simplicity, and that the coach is there as a listener and companion as the thinker works their way to their destination.

I particularly liked the way that Claire Pedrick describes how coaches can get distracted by ‘wavy people’ in the conversation, resulting in time wasted exploring the background, getting stuck in exploring the origins and nuances of problems rather than helping the thinker to focus on what they can do to resolve the problem ‘right here, right now’.  I also particularly enjoyed the chapter on presence, partnership and power. This is now one of my all time favourite coaching books.

Simplifying Coaching flows in the same way that a coaching conversation flows – there is a very definite beginning, middle and end. There are a number of times that the metaphor of a journey is used, and this helps explain Pedrick’s way of thinking really clearly. She quotes a number of other sources and resources which allow you to investigate further. At the end of the book, there are a couple of chapters that touch on how the contents of the book can be used in other scenarios, and not only in a coaching session.

I have gained further clarity on the various competencies from ICF and EMCC and understand considerably more about the power dynamic between two people in conversation. I can see now that at times I have been naïve in my thinking about power and it has made me reflect on this in both my coaching and my leadership style.

I found something new in every chapter of the book. It is so simply written that it is accessible by anyone with an interest in coaching, even those with no training or experience. It provides some simple advice and guidance on how to start and end coaching discussions well, and how to remain focused on co-creation and partnership throughout the discussion.  It is a book I will return to again and again as a way of reminding myself to keep the coaching simple and pure. Overall, Simplifying Coaching is an incredibly positive addition to my bookshelf.

The book has helped me hugely in continuing to develop and embed my learning as a coach. I have become clearer in my ‘rightsizing’ of the conversation at the beginning of a coaching session, and I have also noticed when I have been distracted into backwards facing rather than forwards facing in my questioning style.  I have used the STOKeRS acronym to rightsize the discussion in a number of coaching sessions, and have seen how well it works.  I am a huge convert to it!

Simplifying Coaching has also made me reflect on my leadership style when I’m not wearing my coaching hat, and how I can apply it in other areas in my work and personal life.

‘The book feels like talking to an expert friend, giving me advice and raising questions for me to reflect on’
Review by Sally Twisleton

Simplifying Coaching is written to help coaches think about mastering the very basics of coaching by focusing on the client more and doing less. Claire describes it herself as a ‘book of tweaks’, and I think this is a great description, bringing us back to the fundamentals and helping readers to hone their craft. The book is very readable and feels like talking to an expert friend, giving me advice and raising questions for me to reflect on.

I think the book would appeal to a broad audience, from those just starting out, all the way to those with lots of experience who are looking to reflect and think about their practice from a fresh perspective. The chapters take you through the different phases of a coaching conversation, and at the end of each chapter encourage some reflections.

The range of insights offered by the book are really rich. It is a book I will come back to time and again to help with particular issues or reflections. I really liked the commentary about the usefulness of conversation, and the reminder to check in with clients around this, as well as creating a container in which to do the work together as a partnership.

Simplifying Coaching is great at bringing you back to basics and reflecting on trying to resist the urge to ‘actively help’, rather than allowing the client to do the thinking. In a small book, it covers a lot of ground, and I would recommend reading the whole book and then dipping into it periodically for practical advice on particular topics. It is a brilliant and simple book that every coach should read.

I have gained some new and helpful insights to take into my practice, as well as some useful ways of phrasing questions to address particular scenarios. I will be trying these out in future coaching sessions, and coming back to the book as a prompt to reflect and improve further.

Simplifying Coaching – click for all our Book Club resources for this book