The ontology approach in coaching posits that the three distinct yet interconnected components are the Body, Moods, and Language. The cohesiveness of our existence is manifested through our physical body, our linguistic abilities, and our emotional feelings. Language possesses generative and creative qualities, enabling individuals to engage in novel behaviors by virtue of their listening and speaking abilities. Language is a system of communication utilized by people to establish connections and facilitate interpersonal interactions, rather than solely for its structural or grammatical significance. This concept pertains to the manner in which individuals articulate their emotions, convey their thoughts, and communicate their intentions, encompassing various forms such as requests, assessments, assertions, offers, promises, and declarations. The mood is an inherent aspect of our psychological state that influences and shapes our behaviors. When individuals are unable to acknowledge certain realities in their lives, they often experience a state of disagreement or animosity. A conflict arising from the perception of others' acts as a breach of our established norms or principles can be construed as an indication of dishonor, lack of regard, or potential harm towards us. When experiencing a feeling of animosity, the probability of achieving desired outcomes through our actions is quite improbable.
In the realm of corporate environments, it is common for managers to engage in performance review meetings with the intention of providing constructive comments aimed at enhancing the performance of their subordinates. One common oversight among managers is the failure to recognize that the prevailing atmosphere surrounding a dialogue frequently deviates from the intended objectives of the discussion. In instances where a prevailing sentiment of aversion is present inside dialogues, even the subtle utilization of humor fails to ameliorate the circumstances. Furthermore, it is unlikely to elicit a productive reaction from the subordinate. The ontology approach demonstrates its efficacy in this context by emphasizing the development of keen observational skills in evaluating individuals or occurrences. A manager who consistently engages in the practice of centering and grounding oneself will enhance their ability to align their mood with the ongoing conversation, so fostering a greater sense of curiosity and openness. Consequently, they will be more prepared to actively participate in a constructive dialogue. Establishing a conducive atmosphere can enhance the manager's ability to cultivate a positive relationship with their subordinates, since the manager's linguistic expression during the interaction conveys concern rather than unease. By adopting a more open-minded approach, the manager will exhibit a greater level of receptiveness. The individual's nonverbal cues will also undergo modifications in order to cultivate an atmosphere of hospitality towards their subordinate, hence fostering a heightened level of trust from the team member.
It is important to acknowledge that alterations cannot be made to aspects that elude our attention. The Observer-Actions-Results (OAR) paradigm is an effective instrument that facilitates ontological coaching to generate significant transformations at the individual level of existence. The proposition that repeating the same action would invariably yield same outcomes is not universally valid. When there is a discrepancy between our actions and the underlying assumption, or the cognitive framework through which we see and understand events, it is improbable that we will achieve improved outcomes. How frequently have individuals endeavored to address or circumvent challenges encountered inside their professional pursuits, everyday existence, or perhaps their physical well-being?
What is the range of distinct methods and approaches that have resulted in the identical outcome, or potentially exacerbated the situation by generating additional complications? I had the opportunity to provide coaching services to an executive who had a notable pattern of frequent employee turnover within his organization. Despite attempting various strategies to enhance team member retention, he was unable in achieving his desired outcome. Contrary to the expectations of the human resource department, the feedback received from his subordinates revealed that he had effective managerial qualities. This was evident through his consistent communication with his team members, as well as his notable willingness to provide assistance and invest additional time beyond regular office hours. It was not until several coaching sessions had transpired that the realization emerged regarding the manager's enduring state of uneasiness and apprehension, which exerted influence on each of his decisions and actions. The individual's previous experience of residing in impoverished conditions and enduring significant challenges during their ascent has exerted a slightly adverse impact on their perspective towards the future. The primary factor influencing his response to every circumstance was his persistent concern that things would go awry.
Upon engaging in several sessions of self-observation pertaining to his breathing, bodily stance, and non-verbal cues, the individual in question achieved the ability to discern that he had inadvertently projected an aura of skepticism towards his colleague. Despite the extensive duration of team meetings and his proactive attitude towards assisting others, his team members possessed an innate perception that his underlying emotional state of apprehension and unease permeated every interaction.
He became aware that the emphasis on the "why" in his inquiries often conveyed a sense of skepticism. Through the incorporation of somatic practices in his breathing patterns and a revised acknowledgment of his limited ability to exert complete control over future outcomes, he has begun to emanate a rejuvenating aura and instill a sense of confidence within his team members.
There exist a limited number of problems that I encountered in the practice of ontology coaching. During a recent encounter, I had the opportunity to engage with a corporate client who expressed a specific preference for a coaching method characterized by linearity and orientation towards clear progression. Coaching requests of this nature are commonly initiated by ‘result oriented’ organizations seeking to enhance their comprehension of coaching methodologies, which were currently in a nascent phase of development in the organizations themselves. The decision to engage a coach was typically driven by upper management or human resources, guided by the prevailing notion that coaching could effectively address individuals' shortcomings, hence leading to enhanced organizational performance.
On a certain occasion, I was approached by a government organization with a solicitation for executive coaching services. Following an initial consultation with some stakeholders, it was seen that the executives held a firm conviction regarding the influence associated with occupying the highest positions within the organization. The level of a person's hierarchical position positively correlates with their perceived invulnerability. The majority of the individuals on the company's board of directors were primarily politicians who were temporarily appointed to occupy the top positions. The coaching request was specifically aimed at a certain middle management level. I refrained from attending the work assignment due to my assessment over the potential efficacy of the endeavor in generating tangible benefits for the organization. The implementation of a coaching program targeting the middle management level with the objective of instigating a culture shift within the organization is unrealistic without the endorsement and active involvement of high-level leaders.
An additional instance occurred when I saw a human resource representative from a nearby organization who expressed a need for a coaching program. In this program, I was responsible for generating regular reports on the coachee's advancement, which were then submitted to the human resource department. One point of disagreement pertained to the non-disclosure of the report's contents to the coachee. The application was utilized by the human resource department to monitor and manage the progress and activities of the coachee and the associated program. After three rounds of discussions among the involved parties, it became apparent that there was a somatic discomfort indicating a refusal towards this particular request. The discussions centered upon establishing a framework for the coaching relationship, specifically in terms of maintaining confidentiality and adhering to ethical standards. However, no consensus was reached on this matter. During a separate occurrence, I encountered prospective clients who expressed a preference for restricting my interventions to exclude somatic or bodily motions due to traditional beliefs that discourage such practices.
The implementation of the ontology coaching model has provided me with an opportunity to embark on my coaching adventure as a novice. Upon reflecting upon the preceding two years, I am filled with a sense of gratitude and fortune for the invaluable opportunity I have been granted to acquire knowledge from a multitude of esteemed coaches. This privilege has been facilitated by tele courses, collaborative assignments, and coaching engagements. I underwent significant professional development during a two-year period in which I actively implemented the integration of my bodily sensations, emotions, and verbal expression as a novel behavioural pattern within myself. In the context of my own family, I possess a more profound emotional bond with both my spouse and my kids. The individuals provided feedback indicating that I exhibit a greater sense of presence and attentiveness towards them. I have acquired the ability to effectively captivate a more involved audience throughout my training sessions. I address participants' inquiries by prompting them to reconsider the process by which they formulate their queries. I refrain from positioning myself as an authoritative subject expert or relying on my own knowledge to provide them with answers. The potential constraints of the ontology model may not reside just inside the model itself, but also in the extent to which its practical application can be effectively executed. Certain clients may require interventions that beyond my role as an ontological coach. In alternative scenarios, the utilization of the ontology approach may prove ineffective for those whose beliefs strongly oppose the notion of connecting with our inner selves through physical practices. The efficacy of ontology coaching may be compromised when individuals possess unecological intents towards others. The efficacy of the ontological approach is contingent upon the coach's utilization of the approach in relation to others, through the cultivation of a connection with their inner knowledge, a state of being grounded and rooted, and a willingness to embrace uncertainty.
By Leksana TH