Dialogue in Coaching is of fundamental importance. In fact, Coaching is a helping relationship that makes dialogue its centerpiece, inspired by the lesson of Socrates, the so-called Socratic Dialogue and, in particular, Irony and Maieutics.
The Dialogue in Coaching: Non Sapere, Ironia e Maieutica
The Dialogue in Coaching has a great debt to Socrates, because the Greek philosopher, sensing the value and usefulness of listening and effective communication between two or more people, brings to the fore a series of topics which, after more than two thousand years, they will become the pillars of Coaching: awareness , self- knowledge, experience, personal growth, absence of judgment , self-realization .
Furthermore, at the center of Socratic philosophy there is man, with his uniqueness, with his skills of knowledge and reasoning , with the possibility of critical and non-passive learning.
Coaching takes full advantage of these lessons: starting from the assertion that each individual is unique and unrepeatable , he comes to create a method that revolves around the dialogue between two people, none of whom intend to pour their knowledge into the other as if were an empty container to be filled with their own undisputed certainties: the relationship is based on communication, listening and mutual learning possibilities.
The Dialogue in the Coaching adopts the Socratic dialogue the three moments that compose it: the non-Knowing, the ‘ Irony and Maieutica.
Not knowing is a condition that allows us to obtain two results:
- listen to the other and accept his vision of thingsas if we were a blank slate, without externalizing personal judgments and without wanting to impose our truth, risking to frustrate the possibility of the other to nourish the doubt and to continue in his personal growth through the knowledge, first of all of himself;
- avoid encamping absolute certainties, especially on topics more distant from human affairs, committing ourselves to nourish the doubt, to continue in the search for knowledge relating to ourselves and human things, distinguishing ourselves from those who, taking the good to possess the truth, do not more efforts to research it, even when the arguments adduced prove fallacious or inconsistent.
The Dialogue in Coaching: Irony
The Dialogue in Coaching makes mainly two moments of Socratic dialogue: Irony and Maieutica.
Let’s start from Irony, thanks to which “not knowing” is demonstrated.
The first thing for Socrates to do is to put his interlocutors in front of their ignorance, in a confrontation in which he also involves himself. For this purpose it makes use of Irony , from the Greek εἰρωνεία , eirōneía, or Dissimulation . Specifically, dissimulation of one’s thinking . Socrates comes to demonstrate the not knowing in which his bystanders unknowingly find themselves through irony, which is concretized in the use of word games, of fictions thanks to which to uncover the consciences of others, convinced and satisfied with the formulas crystallized on on which their knowledge, or rather their claim to know, rests.
Socrates pretends to be ignorant on any topic and, as such, asks his interlocutor for clarifications on a subject on which he feels well-versed.
After abundantly flattering the person he is dealing with, the philosopher begins to ask him a series of increasingly specific questions.
By emphasizing his not knowing on the subject to suggest doubt to his interlocutor and using the refutation to weaken him, to demonstrate the inconsistency and weakness of his beliefs, Socrates achieves his aim: to demonstrate to the other that his certainty of knowing is illusory and motivate him to resume the search for truth.
In essence, irony serves to purify the mind and free it from the granite , sometimes axiomatic certainties , shaking the individual from the torpor in which he is imprisoned and rekindling in him the desire for knowledge thanks to doubt.
The dialogue in Coaching makes use of irony for two main reasons: the Coach must not suggest his truth to the Client , both in order not to influence the thinking of these and not to make him uncomfortable, and must induce the Client to reason , so that the latter can strip his thoughts of personal and other beliefs and judgments, recover the desire to know himself and find his authentic goals in view of self-realization.
The Dialogue in Coaching: Maieutics
The Dialogue in Coaching owes a lot to Socratic Maieutics , that is, the art of giving minds the truth, independently.
Socrates has no intention of emptying the heads of his disciples to fill them with his knowledge and his dogmas. He has no intention of letting his thoughts come from outside: his aim is to make everyone look for the truth inside himself . This is why Plato, in Theetetus , makes Socrates say that he inherited the profession of obstetrician from his mother: just as she gave birth to women, he gave birth to minds. This is the so-called Socratic Maieutica, from the Greek μαιευτική (τέχνη) , that is to say (art) obstetrician .
Socrates speaks of himself, always in Plato’s story, as a means by which people who relate to him, even if initially completely ignorant, progress, finding and generating knowledge with the work of their mind.
The truth, as can be seen from these words, is a personal achievement and philosophy is a subjective path that takes place in everyone’s mind. Herein lies one of the principles of pedagogy, namely the importance of education in the form of self-education , a process through which the pupil is helped by his teacher to grow independently, drawing on his own resources.
The dialogue in Coaching is distinguished by the use of Socratic maieutics: the Coach, keeping the judgment in check and trying not to replace the Customer, provides these with useful tools to stimulate reflection and self-realization in him .
The Dialogue in Coaching: the importance of Irony and Maieutics
From what has been said, it is easy to understand why the dialogue in Coaching has recourse to Irony and Maieutics , in addition to the recognition by the Coach, also of Socratic derivation, of his not knowing, a useful presupposition, as mentioned, to a free listening from judgments and to suggest to the Customer the need to clean up from convictions.
The irony, in the Coaching Dialogue, through a series of open questions, serves to the Coach to induce the Customer to continue his personal growth, to question the acquired certainties, to ask questions , for example on his own objectives, to rethink the things that no longer satisfy him or that he accepts uncritically.
The maieutic, for its part, serves to make sure that the customer brings out his most authentic thoughts, his goals, his emotions in order to take action with the strongest awareness of himself and his intentions.