Sunday, January 18, 2015

What is Ontological Coaching?

As an ontological practitioner/coach I often get asked “What is Ontological Coaching (OC)”? As we enter 2015 with all the excitement, wonder and energy a New Year brings, I thought I would dedicate my first blog of the year to Ontological Coaching (OC) because I believe it is a fresh, new and well-grounded approach to facilitating transformation for leaders, managers, teams and business units. Alan Sieler is the expert on this approach and he explains it this way.

Ontological coaching is a particular approach to understanding what is at the heart of how people function, learn and change. The OC approach is that learning and change does not only happen through our language: an integral part in how we function is also through our emotions and our body - the dynamics of our posture, how we are in our emotions and how we manage ourselves emotionally. The three areas Language, Emotions and Body make up who we are as a person, our Way of Being; and shape how we perceive the world and our behaviour. If we are going to help people make a significant change, then we have to address all three domains. 

Alan Sieler suggests that most approaches to change don’t do that – they focus on one of perhaps two domains and I agree. OC is the only approach I have come across that explicitly recognises not just the importance of each domain but the importance of the integration of each of the domains and that all three need to change if someone is to engage in what we might call sustainable or deep change. This process is deeper than behaviour. OC is interested in whether what is happening in people’s perceptions and attitudes is going to allow then to use new skills and strategies. If we don’t address what are often deep seated perceptions and attitudes (most of which can be out of our awareness) then we are going to miss opportunities to help people change. 
People’s Way of Being (and how they function in Language, Emotions and Body) is where their perceptions and attitudes live. This is where, as an ontological practitioner/coach I work respectfully with people to help them discover ways in which they can open themselves up and find new ways of communicating and behaving so it is beneficial for them and those they deal with. 

In summary we must work with not just how people language a situation, we must work with a person’s whole Way of Being – this is at the heart of how people function, learn and change to get better results both personally and professionally.