The importance of confidentiality in group coaching
Coaches talk a lot about confidentiality, as it is one of the key components of a respectful, trustworthy, and ethical coaching relationship. Now in an era of social media and cameras everywhere, is confidentially really a realistic goal?
What‘s the real value here? How much does it really matter? How does this look in group coaching? How do you create a ‘safe space’ when there is more than just a coach and coachee? “It only takes one!” to spoil a secret, as the saying goes.
The questions above are fair, and, there are still many people out there who are yearning for a safe place to speak! A place of connection, compassion, honor (especially in a group setting) and yes privacy.
When I think back at my group coaching experience, before I understood the value of confidentiality from my coach training, group discussions were surface level and inauthentic. No one wanted to ‘put themselves out there’ if no one else was going to, or to risk their thoughts being met with judgement or rejection. We genuinely enjoyed being together… and rarely gained ground in areas we wanted to grow.
I decided it was time to explicitly add confidentiality to the front end of our gatherings. It didn’t take long until the group exploded with creativity, learning, progress, and success once the new safe space was co-created.
Following the “what is said here stays here” etiquette, many more felt confident and safe to share new thoughts and ideas. There was more of a willingness to be authentic, vulnerable and creative. Sharing this rationale with your group or team is the cornerstone to creating a safe and open space.
It’s not only the coaches responsibility to hold that safe space. Every member of the group must contribute. This is why, I believe it’s so important to involve the group in defining what that safe space should look like from the very start.
Write down ‘guidelines’ and display them somewhere visible for the group to see at every meeting. That visual reminder is a great way to help maintain that safe space from session to session. It is also a constant reminder of the commitment to keep everything shared within the group internal and off social media.
BE the standard!
As coaches, of course, we are always leading by example. Living respect, attentiveness, trustworthiness, and confidentiality are crucial as members of the group.
So, go be the ‘space creators’ for great things to happen in the world. Build trust, establish respect and create confidence for every member of your group. You will be blown away by the difference explicitly discussing confidentiality makes in your next group session.
About the Author
Melissa’s original leadership work was in the healthcare sector and she has since developed her skills as a coach with a very diverse range of clients ranging from Hospitality to non-profits to construction. Group and team coaching is one of her passions and she has especially enjoyed developing coaching strategies with groups of young adults and teens…yes you read that correctly coaching even works with teens!
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