Should vs Could

The words we use reflect our mental states. As coaches, you need to be aware of these usages by your coachee during your coaching sessions. When the coachee uses:

  •  He is attempting to control or manipulate others to do what he thinks is right or imposing his values
    E.g. "You should (talking to the coach) advise my boss not to belittle his subordinates."
  •  He is living in the past, regretting some actions he did.
    E.g. "I should have completed that assignment first before doing this."
  •  Laying blame on others and not taking responsibilities on the situation.
    E.g. "They should have discussed the matter with the group first."
  •  The coachee sets up possibilities in thinking, cooperating and acting on a given problem and looks forward.
    E.g. "I think we could do one of these two things."

Example 1: "Should"

Coachee:   I should have spoken to my boss earlier so that he doesn't become this mad about the situation.  
Coach:   What have you learnt from this situation?  
Coachee:   In situations such as this, updating my boss first is better than having him find out from other sources.  

Example 2: "Should"

Coachee:   I think my boss should have called the client first before asking me to meet up with them.  
Coach:   What might you do in future under such similar circumstances?  
Coachee:   I will probably ask my boss if it is ok for him to speak to the client first.  

Example 3: "Could"

Coach:   So if I get you right, there was this big issue with the client. What can you do about it?  
Coachee:   If you ask me, I think we should have checked the products before shipping it out and that the QC department should have notified us in Sales that there might be a potential problem on this with the client. Also I think Production should have been more careful manufacturing this product.  
Coach:   I understand what you are saying. I'm interest to understand from you what you might do in future to avoid this situation from happening.  
Coachee:   I think Production should be more careful in future during production and that even if it slips them, the QC department can have more stringent checks to prevent the problem from escaping.  
Coach:   This is what they can do. What about you?  


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I am always impressed with Wai's ability to be with the client and coach them from where they are. He brings clarity and authenticity to his coaching. He is able to reach the heart of the matter with grace and skill.

Joanne Waldman
M.Ed, PCC, LPC, NCC New Perspective Coaching

Wai has a very professional Coaching Presence. He consistently listens on a deep level-he has a true talent here. He moves his client skillfully to Designing Actions, based on the client's focus. He is very honoring of his clients and asks good follow-up questions.

Sheri Boone
MCC, CL Inspired Mastery