BLG Leadership Insights

Can You Coach via Social Technologies?

In this day and age of email, twitter, teleconferencing, the question is; can we use these social technologies as modalities for coaching? In my experience, there is a genuine role for these technologies, but only when they are placed in right context. The backbone of coaching is in the personal integrity of the coach which is based on your perception of the coach’s trust and expertise. It is the trust component that is often most difficult to deal with. Embedded in the notion of trust, as social psychologists would tell us, is a certain degree of intimacy. When you tell others to be candid, open, and share their vulnerabilities you’re engaging in a form of social intimacy. This sense of closeness, which is sometimes necessary in the coaching relationship, most readily emerges from face-to-face contact. Once this sense of intimacy and trust is in place, you can continue the relationship using social technologies.

Obviously, there are also those situations when there is no choice but to use social technologies. Because of distance, you may be forced to employ them. Here, I found that not all coaches are equally capable of creating intimacy through email, blackberry messaging, etc. and my suggestion would be that a certain amount of phone conversation and preferably video-conferencing be used in order to create genuine visual and audio contact. I’ve further found that using video-conferencing only on one occasion and reverting back to other mediums fails to establish the necessary degree of intimacy. Make sure, if you need to resort to technology, phone and video-conferencing become your modus operandi while the more impersonal modalities are used sparingly.