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Pour on the CHARM

Coaching Someone In the Moment

Let’s play a quick game of “Have You Ever?”

Have you ever been in a situation with someone who didn’t do the thing they had committed to doing or who did the thing they’d promised not to do again?

Perhaps they...

  • didn’t finish the task
  • didn’t follow the checklist or procedure guide
  • didn’t meet the expectations of the role
  • didn’t live up to the core values they said they had embraced
  • didn’t show up at the place or in the way they said they would
  • showed up late
  • missed a step
  • left goals unmet or tasks incomplete
  • gave a customer something other than our usual great service
  • communicated in a way that was not consistent with the way we’ve agreed to communicate

Most of us have been there, and if you’re a leader or influencer, you’ve probably been there more than a time or two. So what did you do about it? 


A path that’s all too common is the “say nothing” path, which we might choose because of an inner dialog that goes something like this...

  • It’s not that big of a deal, I’ll ignore it for now and hope it doesn’t happen again.
  • I don’t have time to mess with this kind of communication; I’ll just take care of it.
  • I’m not sure how to talk to this person about this, so I won’t.


Another path is the “tell them what they’re doing wrong” path, which might sound something like this in our heads...

  • That’s what performance reviews are for, right? I’ll just add this to the list.
  • If I just tell them again what they’re supposed to do, maybe they’ll get it right.
  • I’m tired of trying harder than they are; they should just fix it already!


Sadly, both of these paths can be unproductive. Saying nothing deprives the individual of possible growth, and often leads to silent frustration. Simply speaking correction deprives the individual of the chance to share their perspective, and prevents them from the chance to reflect and perhaps adjust for the future.


There’s a better path!


Coaching in the moment allows you to help the individual reflect on their here-and-now and apply learnings forward to future encounters. 

Let me be abundantly clear here, “coaching” is not the same as “telling.” Coaching is a conversation in which the individual has a chance to take ownership of their own development and apply their learning forward.

And if offered in the moment, coaching is a great way to help that individual own their actions and their next steps.

Many of us simply don’t have tools to use for this, so let me offer an easy to remember model for in-the-moment coaching.


Pour on the CHARM

Check Yourself

  • Take a moment to check your attitude, your “why”, any baggage you may be bringing in.
  • Fix your mood and the vibes you’re giving off to make sure you’re embracing the conversation from a position of valuing the other person not dismissing them, creating a welcoming, trusting environment, rather than one from which they’ll be on the defensive.

Highlight Their Best Interests

  • Remember the saying, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care”? Take a moment with your words and language to help the other person know you genuinely care about them and you’ve got their best interests at heart.
  • Coaching and correction from a place of lifting someone up is easier to take than criticism that’s designed to tear someone down. Find ways to lift them up with your words.

Ask a Good Question

  • Coaching isn’t the same as telling. Coaching involves asking questions! Ask questions that help them tell you their story and what they saw or did from their perspective.
  • Use questions to prevent yourself from assuming you already know what’s going on in their head, and be sure to ask open-ended questions that do not convey judgment.

Really Listen

  • Listen for their insights and their perspective - don’t listen for your chance to reply; don’t listen to judge; don’t listen because you “have” to. Listen because you genuinely care about them and want to hear their perspective.
  • As you listen to them - listen with your whole body: ears open, mouth closed, taking notes if needed; turn towards them and aim your heart at their heart. Listen actively, visibly, and intentionally.

Make it Matter

  • If they can’t apply their discoveries forward, there’s no point in coaching them. If there’s no way to make this conversation help them discover how they can do something differently or better, or respond more effectively in a future similar situation, there’s no point even having the conversation. The whole joy of coaching is to make it count.
  • Use your words and your questions to help them reflect on the situation, to help reflect on what went well or not-so-well, to reflect on the impacts of their actions or inaction. And use your questions to help them determine how they’ll apply what they’re learning in a future situation.


There are all kinds of coaching models out there - this one may not work for you - but it can be a useful reminder and a great tool for coaching someone in the moment.

Ready to learn more about coaching? Check out our coaching resources, and reach out! We’re happy to help!


Topics: Leadership, Communication, Collaboration, Sinikka Waugh, Communication & Collaboration, Leadership & Influence

Sinikka Waugh

About the Author

Sinikka Waugh

Sinikka Waugh is a recognized leader in understanding people and in adapting tools, techniques, and processes to meet the demands of the situation at hand. Since 2006, Sinikka has provided compassionate leadership in transformation initiatives. When she isn’t in front of a class, she enjoys putting her background in English and French Literature to work, by writing blogs about the subjects she teaches every day. Are you ready? If you are, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! contactus@yourclearnextstep.com


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