You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

As a coach, you know you can make the biggest impact when your coachee wants to be coached and has made that decision for themselves. The likelihood of successful, sustained behaviour-change is just so much stronger.

As my colleague Stuart Haden says in his book of the same title; “It’s not about the coach”. He goes onto say that “coaching is a space between two or more people”. It's about inspiring the coachee to:

  1. Make informed choices about coaching  - possibilities; 
  2. Discover readiness for learning - perception; 
  3. Develop the values required for success - performance.

I was recently listening to Matt Hancock talking about the fact that some people are still not following the laws around social distancing, which could result in even more stringent lockdown measures. This made me think of Stuart’s work, and also about transactional analysis and what is being asked of society.

Transactional Analysis (TA) evolved as a means of explaining interactions between individuals, and suggests that something called “ego state” underlines every transaction we make with those around us. The creator of TA, Eric Berne, defines “ego state” as a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behaviour. There are three ego states: Parent, Child and Adult.

When you interact with those around you, especially when an emotional response has been triggered either because of a contravention to your values or simply an unexplained emotion, you might normally lapse into one of these ego states.


For me, from a Transactional Analysis perspective the stance the Government is now taking is similar to that of the Parent, and the UK population is the Child. For most members of society, being told what to do will result in people following the Government’s guidance. For others, however, this will evoke the Child ego state that wants to rebel. When you respond in Child state you're immediately responding using feelings, which isn’t always the healthiest approach in achieving a good outcome. A small proportion of the UK believing that social distancing doesn’t apply to them; that, in Stuart’s terms, the dangers of COVID-19 don't apply to them - perhaps even a perception that they're somehow invincible?

Ideally what we'd all like to see is an Adult response, which usually means as individuals we've thought through a response in a reasonable and independent way; to respond in a calm and measured manner as opposed to being reactionary and unpredictable. Then, as individuals, we will make informed choices; we will learn of the impact our choices make and behave to ensure success, therefore minimising the number of deaths in the UK.

Realise the part we all have to play and the “ego state” we each choose to adopt; 

Aspire to respond in Adult state; and;

Do respond in a calm and measured way.

Please stay safe and well, all of you, and practice social distancing wherever possible.

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