Positive affirmations are a powerful coaching tool - Ian Dodds

Many readers will know that as well as all of the work I do on inclusion I am also a qualified coach and counsellor. When I was in ICI, then the largest chemicals company in the world, one of the business directors came to me and requested some coaching. He had been asked to stand in for the Sales Director at a forthcoming big conference. The Sales Director was an outstanding speaker, which, alas, this director was not. He wanted me to give him some public speaking coaching prior to the conference. I began to do this; but quickly realised that the key to his speaking successfully was his gaining more confidence. A colleague had recently introduced me to some positive psychology techniques.

Hence drawing on the these techniques I agreed with the director 4 positive affirmations that he would say to himself morning and evening affirming himself as an excellent speaker. As he recited these to himself he needed to imagine himself: practising each affirmation well; feeling good about practising them well; being admired by his audience for doing them well. I also encouraged him to stop all negative self talk about the keynote speech he would be making at the big conference.

At the conference I was sitting on the top table with the CEO and COO of that business. The director I had been coaching made his presentation engagingly and outstandingly. When he had finished the CEO declared to the COO and myself: “My hasn’t he changed!” He was so impressed with the presentation.

That was the first time I had encouraged coachees to do positive affirmations about an aspect of their ability that they wished to improve and to stop all negative self talk about it. Since then I have used the texchnique many times. A more recent occasion was when I was asked to coach someone who had applied for a very senior position in a leading business school. He knew that he was someting of an outsider in relation to this role. As well as coaching him for the interview I encouraged him to do positve affirmations about his excllence for this role and to stop all negative self talk. To both of our surprises he got the job and a few weeks later took me out to dinner to thank me for my coaching. During the meal he took out his smart phone and switched it on. It had a recording of him saying the positive affirmations we had agreed during the coaching. He told me that he played these each day before he went into the business school!

Finally, I use the technique in the counselling I do. On one occasion I had been counselling a young man who had a bipolar disorder. One day just before Christmas he rang me to tell me he was massively depressed. I suggested we meet that evening; but he said he was too depressed to do that. Consequently, I persuaded him to repeat 4 positive affirmations, which we agreed, morning and evening. I also encouraged him to stop the negative self talk. Just after Christmas he rang me to tell me that it had worked and could we meet that evening!

If you are interested in knowing more about this technique please don’t hesitate to contact me; or if you would like some coaching or counselling.

Dr Ian Dodds FRSA