making it count
Mis-Use Coaching

Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  

When it comes to doing something right and/or muddling something up, there are many, many more ways to muddle something than there are ways to do something correctly. Mis-use coaching. That’s the way reality is set up. Do you understand why it is that way? Gregory Bateson entertained that question from his daughter in one of the metalogues. On that occasion he offered this explanation. There are lots of ways to mess up your bed, there’s only one basic way that it is properly “made.”

Similarly we can say that it is easier to mess up the Well-Formed Outcome Questions than to ask them correctly. There are many ways to mess them up, and only one or a few ways of asking them correctly. In the following, the proper way to ask the question is in bold. The questions under them are actual attempts at asking the question which I’ve heard.  Some are funny, some are ridiculous, some are redundant, some are boring. While supervising coaching sessions, I have often stopped the coach and asked, “Are you trying to ask question x?”  When I get a yes, I said, “And what is that question?”

If you ask it wrong, you will probably get wrong or at best, unuseful information.

A common problem is losing track of the subject. You begin with one thing and it slowly shifts to something else so that the later questions are on a different subject. That’s failing to hold the frame.


1) What do you want?            

Wrong: What do you want to talk about?  So, what’s up with you these days?

What issue would you like to talk about?  So what’s your problem?

2) What will you see or hear when you get what you want? [For tangible objectives]

Wrong: What does that belief look like?  What will you hear when you reach that level of fitness?  So what will be your emotional state?

3) Why is it important to achieve that? 

Wrong: So, why do you want that?  Why did you do that?  Why are you that way?


4) When do you want to achieve this outcome?

Wrong: When will you start this?  When could you begin?  When does this occur?

5) Where will this goal occur?

Wrong: Where do you want to be a better parent?  When you are at the gym, where do you want to do this? [Redundant]. 

6) With whom will you do this, if anyone?

Wrong: Who is involved in this?  Will they need to sell this to?  Who will your parenting be for?  Who can help you with this?


7) What do you have to do to get what you want?

Wrong: Do you know how to do this?  Can you do that?  How will you reach your goal?

Client says “I don’t know what to do?”  Wrong next question: “Okay, so how do you do X?”  Do you think you can do that?


8) Is this goal within your area of control?  Can you initiate this action and sustain it?

Wrong: Are you powerful enough to do this?  Can you control this?  How much control will you need to do this? 

If given a “no” answer, “Well, would you like to try it anyway?”

9) Can you? Do you have the skill or the capacity for doing this?  If yes, what?                  

Wrong: What skills will you need to do this?

10) Have you ever done this before or something like it before?  If yes, when?

Wrong: When have you done this before?  When have you solved this before?


11) How many things do you have to do?  Are there steps and stages in reaching this goal?

Wrong: How many steps are in your plan? Are you aware that there are 3 steps to X?

12) Do you need or have a plan or strategy?  If yes, how do you best like to plan?           

Wrong: So what’s your plan?  How much of a plan have you got so far?

13) How will you monitor your progress?  What milestones will you set up in your plan?

Wrong: Have you ever monitored a plan?


14) What, if anything, could stop you?

Wrong: What problems do you see with the plan?  When would something stop you?  What will probably stop you?

15) Do you have the external resources?  Do you have the internal resource you need?

Wrong: How many internal or external resources do you have?  How do you feel about those resources?

16) Is it ecological, holistic, and realistic?

Wrong: So it’s good for you to do this?


3) Is it still compelling and attractive?          

Wrong: How compelling is your goal from 0 to 10?

17) Are you going to do this?  Are you ready to make a commitment to this goal?

Wrong: When will you make a decision about this?  How do you feel about that decision?

18) How will you know you have achieved it?  What evidence would convinced you’ve of success?” 

Wrong: How will you know you’re done?  Are we done now?  Can I go home now?

If you are frequently asking these questions and would like to understand how to more effectively communicate, contact Shawn and have a chat on how we can support your best performances

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Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  ~


Because meaning is constantly changing, as I noted in the last post, it is unstable. Being unstable, meaning and the construction of meaning allows you to form, unform, and reform it. Meaning is co-created between you as a Meta-Coach and your client engages in the coaching conversation. Because of this, you discover it. Yet it is not discovered in the sense that you happen upon it and, Eureka! you found it, as if it were a thing. It’s not
like that. Meaning is discovered in that you and your client discover your meanings and each other’s meanings in the process of the conversation.

The same thing happens to writers.

As a writer I am often discovering meaning- what I mean and the meaning of my own words- in the very act of writing. I discover what I mean by writing and as I write. I know that sounds strange. But sometimes when I am trying to articulate an idea, I begin writing, then in the process I discover another idea, or an idea that had been on the edge of my consciousness, an idea that I had never fully “thought” before. In this, writing for me is often like a living conversation, as I imagine my readers and consider their thinking,
perspectives, needs, etc. ideas emerge in the process of writing.

It happens similarly to readers.

For the reader, meaning is forever being delayed. You are always waiting for the next word to make sense of the previous. Steve de Shazer wrote that meaning is deferred in reading because understanding itself is an emergent property which arises through a cumulative process. As a reader, it is natural and inevitable that I often create misunderstandings in my mind. Read anything new to you, foreign, challenging, and it will happen to you. Yet by embracing your misunderstandings and continue to read, you will slowly find those
misunderstandings being corrected and new understandings developing. 

Coaching Conversation

And while the ongoing development of meaning happens in both reading and writing, it happens much, much more often in a coaching conversation.
Because the conversation is so dynamic and because we both are trying to understand the client’s wants, desires, hopes, fears, needs, values, etc., the conversation is a joint search for discovery. The way language works in the conversation is one of experimenting with possibilities, testing out hypothesis, experimenting with another possibility, etc. The questions and answers going back and forth co-create the direction that we go and the
areas we explore. 

You coach not only to meaning, but for meaning- to discover and/or to create

The coaching conversation is also both personally intimate and at the same time, a social event. It is inter-communication and inter-action between the players.  If as a coach, you momentarily pretend that you are not part of the conversation., what happens to you? What happens to the other person? Does it not sabotage the entire effort? As a social event, the coaching conversation provides a crucible place where new and exciting
meanings can develop in the dialogue. It is from that crucible that meaning emerges. So welcome the exploratory discovering of meaning that you and your client are engaged in. Give up any and all illusions that you are supposed to know all the answers. You don’t and you won’t. You are an explorer in another’s reality. As you have been invited in, you have the privilege of being a co-creator.

Where To Find Meaning

We order our phenomenal world of meaning with language in all of its forms (linguistics, gestures, movement, kinesthetics, etc.). That’s why we have to look inside, behind, beneath, and within language to discover a person’s meanings. Yet in this there is a tricky element. That’s because words themselves do not mean, people mean. Words do not have strict and precise meaning definitions. Instead they are mired in and dependent upon contexts. It is context as a semantic field which often determine meaning.

Next time you coach, consider how long it takes you to truly come to understand your client’s meanings. Consider also how that the very process of seeking to discover this meaning enables your client to also discover his meaning. Notice how that this discovery process is itself an intervention even though we don’t call it an intervention. Finally, notice how in the discovery process the meaning is or becomes more fluid and unstable and because of that, transformation becomes more likely.

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Ego Investment and Coaching

ego investments

When A Coach’s Needs Get In Your Clients Way – Ego

Article by Dr.L.Michael Hall and Mr Shawn Dwyer  ~
It can happen. Your needs, drives, and unfinished issues can get in the way of your client reaching his or her goals or even experiencing an effective coaching session. Unlike many professions where the agent’s congruencies, beliefs, psychological state do not matter, in coaching it matters. In many professions, what the person thinks, feels, and believes is irrelevant because it does not affect her ability to apply her skills and achieve an outcome.

But in coaching, you primarily use yourself to conduct the coaching experience. And because you are the “tool,” the condition of you as the means of transformation is critical. That’s why your emotional drives and needs can get in the way. And because of that, that’s why we work on releasing judgment and getting the ego-investments out of the way as a Meta-Coach. That is also why we repeatedly say that whatever happens in coaching session, it is not about you.

Unfinished Business and Ego

In spite of that, I often hear coaches, even Meta-Coaches, worry about what they would do if this or that happened. “What if the client wants to know personal things about me?” “What if my client rejects me?” “What if a client criticizes me?” Inferentially any of these concerns implies that the coach is making the experience far too much about him or herself. That would be an example of how your unfinished business gets in the way.

One reason for you, as a Meta-Coach, to revisit our Self Leadership training from time to time, is to refresh the foundations of your own personal flow or genius state. After all, if you feel powerless in handling something, or if your self-esteem hinges on your performance or the client’s outcomes, then you are working from a undeveloped self (perhaps a false self) and your need for unconditional self-value is getting in the way.

In the coaching experience, as a coach you need to be fully present to your client and to the situation being described so that you can flexibly think, problem-solve, think creatively, and think critically. But if you have some rigid ego-investments that causes your sense of self to be needy, that will interfere with effective information processing and coaching facilitation.
Your thinking will be shallow and superficial, self-focused, and probably defensive. And when you come from that kind of place you will not be effective.

To coach you really need to get yourself clean and clear.

By clean and clear I’m referring to completing any of the socio-psycho-sexual stages of human development that Piaget, Erickson, and others identified. The person who is stuck at some earlier level of development isn’t clear and therefore will not be able to be cleanly present for their client. While a great many of the NLP and Neuro-Semantic processes in Modules I and II can take care of personal growth and development and internal conflicts, sometimes a person needs either a coach or a therapist to clear out any remnants of unfinished business.

When there are struggles within any of us- it could be as simple as two legitimate frames warring against each other. There could be a frame war in a power struggle for dominance. Or it could be the function of a limiting belief, decision, understanding, identity, etc. And because these of frequently our blind-spots, no wonder we are often the last person to recognize them.

Now your needs, especially your unconscious drives, can get activated while you are coaching. There’s nothing abnormal about that. When that happens, use that awakening as indicating a next level of development for yourself.
Get with your coaching supervisor to understand and address that need or drive. The more you work on you- the more you keep yourself clean and clear as an instrument of facilitating for your clients. You will then be able to more clearly hear your client and support them.
Gain a deeper perspective in your needs by visiting Coaching Essentials

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Coaching Centre

Article by Shawn Dwyer and Dr.L.Michael Hall ~

If you listen, really listen, you can hear the matrix. And if you listen with your eyes, really look intensely, you can see the matrix. A person’s matrix of meaning, intentionality, emotions, and sense of self is there for the seeing and hearing, if you have ears to hear and eyes to see. How are your eyes and ears? Test yourself with the following statement. See what you can detect.

I really do want to become an effective leader who can inspire the best in people, bring out their best, and use my personal congruency. But I fear that I don’t have the capacity to do that. I can’t even imagine myself
being like that.

The sentence begins with intention. The word “to” reveals that (“I really do want to…”). And the world is leadership. Others are the objective of the desire (“inspire … bring out the best”). Self is spoken in the phrase,
“I … use my personal congruency.”  State: fear.  Power: “I don’t have the capacity…” “I can’t imagine.”  Meaning: “can’t imagine.”  Time: the word “want to…” imply what the person does not currently have or is.

Matrix Model Dimensions

So much in so little!  How did you do? The key is to know the eight dimensions of the matrix and listen for words that indicate those dimensions of the three process areas- state, meaning, intention and the five content areas (all about one’s sense of self) – person, powers (resources, skills, competencies), others (relationships), time, and world (domains). As you familiarize yourself with these eight dimensions of the matrix- what is entailed in each, then the words that directly and indirectly refer to them becomes cues and signals about what aspect of the matrix is activated and being referred to as a person speaks.

Next, as you tune your ears to really hear- listen for emphasis. Where does the person put his or her emphasis? What word/s does he stress? And what word/s does she gesture with a definite movement of hands? What word/s are repeated several times? This will give you a clue about where the person’s semantic energy is focused. 

“I to become an effective leader…”                  – Intention.

 “I really do want to an effective leader…”     – Self, Time, Intention (again)

  “…and use congruency…” – Power

“… that I just can’t do that.”                               – State/Meaning-the block that’s interfering 

 “… but I fear that that.” – Power

Matrix Model Energy

Seeing and hearing the matrix of a person means paying lots of attention to the information the person is selecting, sorting for, giving attention to- which is on the outside. And then attending to the information processing and selecting that the person does on the inside. To discover this requires asking questions and meta-questions. It requires calibrating, testing, checking, etc. From the information going in, then it requires attending to the energy being created in the body (embodiment, state accessing) and then the energy expressed in speech and behavior.

In this example, was the emphasis on the first part of the sentence or the later? Was it on what he wanted or what was stopping him? Wherever the emphasis, go there. Pace the person, test what he is saying, and then address that. Hence that would be the part of the matrix where the person is focused and where the person is living.

Try this one:

“But I’m not at fault, Bill started it as he always does calling me a goofball and then saying it was just a joke. But it is not a joke, it is an insult and he knows it. I wish I could speak up and tell him to cut it out. But I’ve never been good at conflict, I guess I fear it too much.

     Others: Bill.

     Power: fault, Bill started it, can’t speak up, can’t tell him, “not good at.”

     Meaning: calls me goofball, insult, mind-reading thinking pattern (“he knows it”).

     Intention: I wish...

     State: insulted, fear of conflict.

This one strikes me as mostly focused on the Power dimension of the matrix where the person feels incapable, unable to speak up, unable to handle conflict. That’s where the energy seems to be and where I’d go in response.

Eyes and Ears

So when it comes to us humans, the eight categories of the Matrix Model offers you a way to cut through the complexity and focus on one of those eight dimensions. It’s there right in front of you- if you have eyes to see and ears to hear.  
Join our Meta-NLP programs to find out how to communicate more effectively

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MCF Online

MCF Online

The Meta-Coach System and MCF Online

MCF online. First of all the Meta-Coach System® provides the most cutting edge communication training available in the world today for Professional Coaches and any individual or organisation committed to rich relationships and success. Also the Meta-Coach System is applied in over 50 countries. Yet the Meta-Coach Foundation is a governing body for Meta-Coaches worldwide. So training, testing and assessment are rigorously benchmarked and assessed against the international standards of the Meta-Coach Foundation (MCF). Most of all, we are aligned for supporting your development and growth in the worlds most advanced models and technology in human development. Why? For actualising your highest and best potentials!

MCF Online

While being the most advanced training system in the world, the modular structure allows you to process through units or levels of accreditation right up to the level of Master Meta-Coach at a pace that suits you and your lifestyle. So it allows you to complete modules of learning face to face that are immediately relevant to your life, skills and/or business. Because we see meta-coaching as coaching at a higher level, we really want you to continue honing your skills and maintaining your professional standards. So would you like to be part of a growing community worldwide and stay current with your skills in the Meta-Coaching System?
Maybe you are a Meta-Coach and looking for an MCF connection but can’t get to a local meeting?

How Long Has Meta-Coaching Existed?

In addition Meta-coaching has been in Australia since 2002. While the Regional Director for Meta-Coaching in Australia is Shawn Dwyer at The Coaching Centre.
Furthermore, Shawn is also the International President of the Meta-Coach Foundation worldwide.
So we encourage you to contact Shawn for supporting your coaching needs whether you would like to be coached, are a Coach or want to be one!
Most of all The Meta-Coaching System has the most rigorous system to measure the level of competency in each one of the 7 essential core coaching skills.

1) Active Presence Listening

2) Caring Support: Rapport, Presence

3) High Quality Questioning

4) Meta-Questioning

5) Giving Feedback

6) Receiving Feedback

7) Inducing States
Therefore every certified Meta-Coach from our community has passed through a rigorous benchmarking and has demonstrated the necessary standards of competency in each skill.
And I compassionately welcome you to this Professional Coaching world called the Meta-Coaching System.
Most noteworthy is the Coaching standards through The Meta-Coach Foundation that include:

  • First of all a shared definition of what Coaching IS and is NOT
  • Recognition of Meta-Coaching specific Models
  • Identification and competence in specific skills through Meta-Coaching (not general types of non grounded coaching that intend to discount the high quality specific skills of Meta-coaching)

Online Support For Meta-Coaching

And now, on the first week of each month there will be an online call for Meta-coaches on Wednesdays from 7pm-8pm AEST. So This call is finally here, to register for this free call please contact us below

MCF Online is here now!

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Design Coaching Confidence Pic


Designing your own coaching confidence is about Coach Mentoring and Supervision programs that are focused on developing your skill to become a professional communicator. these skills include;
Professional Communication and Coach accessibility in Mentoring for material comprised of NLP and the Meta-Coach System frameworks.
Enhancing your meta-coaching skills for;
Supporting clients with a state of care,
Being present with the art of listening,
Using precision questioning with your focus of curiosity,
Exploring the clients world with meta questioning,
Empowering your client through inducing a state of expressiveness and more.
Improving coach efficiencies through coaching conversations based on the Meta-Coach System is what our program will provide you.
Mentoring and Supervision for Leaders who want to step up their professional communication and influence effectively.
You rate for increasing client outcomes to increase the quality of their life will significantly improve.
What is unique about this program is you learn about growing business skills based on your coaching business.
Learn what’s involved in developing systems for an effective coaching practice

Coach Supervision entry stages for coaches are;

  • Stage 1 Coaching Essentials
  • Develop your competencies for Coaching Essentials

  • Stage 2 Meta-NLP Practitioner
  • Accelerate your competencies for Coaching Essentials and Meta-NLP

  • Stage 3 Coaching Genius
  • Accelerate your competencies for Coaching Genius

  • Stage 4 Meta-NLP Master Practitioner
  • Accelerate your competencies for Coaching Genius and Master Prac

    Stage 5 ACMC

    ACMC is where you gain competence in coaching mastery

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