Skype A Coach?

What I Learned from Dr Kate Anthony

I invited Dr Kate Anthony (, an expert in online/virtual learning to spend a few hours with our team of executive coaches, and pass on her vast working knowledge on the subject.

We learned loads!  Just a few snippets include:

  • The need to let coaching clients know that Microsoft own the proprietary rights to all Skype calls and could publish on the internet (obviously a small chance of this ever happening, but coaching clients need to know and assent)
  • How incredibly healing it can be for some people, to undertake online therapy in the comfort of their own homes e.g. through an avatar
  • The notion of the bubble we are in, when we’re on our mobile phones in public; more and more people are talking without inhibition in trains, public spaces, so that it isn’t inconceivable that in the near future people will be coached on their smartphone whilst sitting in a bus surrounded by people, without worrying about who hears
  • There are alternatives to Skype!  E.g.
  • The Ethical Frameworks for Virtual Coaching will inevitably always lag behind the technology/the reality (and, doesn’t stop us creating and working to clear ethical frameworks)


Aside from all this learning, two things have stayed with me:

(i)                How helpful some forms of virtual coaching are, for those who have difficulty making eye contact; i.e. telephone coaching, voice only Skype; text-based coaching (e.g. email coaching, chat forum coaching)

(ii)              The idea that some people can ‘think and type’ much easier than they can ‘think and talk’.

I was already aware of research into telephone coaching, which found that Introverts (as per Jungian Type Theory) preferred telephone coaching to face-to-face coaching, opening up more readily, and sharing deeper thoughts more quickly, than they would if they were in the same room as their coach.  (And the obverse was found – Extraverts found not being in the same room, person to person, was a barrier to them opening up and talking.)

Do we as coaches now need to be more sensitive to the coaching medium?  Do we pay more attention to our own communication comfort zone, than we do to our client’s?  ….Perhaps particularly when a coachee is new to coaching and doesn’t quite know what to expect…..

So, for example, if I prefer Skype video coaching to telephone coaching, do I encourage my client in that direction, without truly appreciating that this is less comfortable for them?

Food for thought!  Not being in the same room as our coachees has its real upsides for some coachees.

How would you rather be coached?  By someone you’ve never met?


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