Storytelling for Empowering Coaching Relationships

We had been walking for about an hour,
the mosquito?s were biting, the sun was
getting hotter, sweaters shed, the kids
were getting tired. We stopped for what
I always call the incentivizers, cool
water, a piece of fruit, a cookie and a
story! Then, re-energized, we headed up
the hill at the top of which we could
finally see the magic glen!

Why is it called the magic glen?, my
son asked. Well, lots of reasons, I
replied. Firstly, its an amazing
place, right? Yes,they enthused and
said, just in this one place there’s
the slippery slides with the rope, the
clay hill and..I continued, most
people dont know this valley is here,
it’s as if when we go away, it if it has its own special

As a parent, I have found that the more
I tell my kids stories, the more they
invite possibility, adventure,
imagination and joy into their lives.

As a coach, I am completely convinced
that the more I use storytelling and
story listening, the better I coach, and
the more value my clients receive.

Storytelling is incredibly effective in
strengthening coaching relationships.
Here are 3 powerful tips for doing just

Recognize the Narrative Comfort Zone

As you work with your clients you can
recognize the kind of narrative that
makes them feel comfortable. Some
clients will be more reserved and
private in the stories they tell; while
others will appreciate a more direct
approach. As you listen attentively to
your clients and the stories that they
tell, they will guide you to the stories
that will be more useful and meaningful
for them. This is how we learn about the
kind of stories that our clients can
relate to; the stories that will really
affect them.

Using Narrative Distance to Get Closer

When we tell a fictional story to a
client, a distance exists between the
client and the story. The story tells of
an objective experience and although it
is related, it is not the client?s
actual experience, it is not their
story. It can be amazingly powerful
though and here’s why.
The distance gives your client a feeling
of safety and this means they can start
to consider the issues discussed in the
story; they can look at them more
closely and more directly through the
story than if you were to approach the
issue in conversation. Once your client
is comfortable with thinking about the
issue in the context of the story, then
they can then think about and start
dealing with it more directly for

Whos afraid of the big, bad..personal

In coaching, when we tell personal
stories we create a wonderful
opportunity to demonstrate personal
integrity, honestly and sincerity. It
may seem risky or even scary to tell
personal stories but these are the
traits that are critical to building up
the coaching relationship and set the
ground for valuable self-discovery work.

We left the magic glen and headed back
towards where we had parked the car.
There were wild flowers everywhere and I
had my youngest on my shoulders feeling
like a sack of potatoes, floppy from
tiredness, ready for his midday sleep.
The bigger boys ran on ahead, racing to
get back with their seemingly endless
energy and enthusiasm especially when
ice-cream was
on the cards!

And as I draw this to a close, I know
that you may remember that storytelling
builds relationships, you probably won?t
remember the 3 ways to do this, but I’m
sure you’ll remember the magic glen and
the boys running home with the promise
of ice-cream. We always remember the

Have a wonderful, story-filled week
(preferably with ice-cream!).

For more on Storytelling, Coaching and
the application for Business and
Organizations, check out the program
Cinderella and the Coach ? the Power of
Storytelling for Coaching Success!?

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