How to show no attachment to what a coach shares?

quality coaching Dec 23, 2020
Giuseppe Totino MCC ICF Experienced Credentialing Mentor Coach - How to show no attachment to what a coach is sharing

Why is this important? 

To show competence in Core Competency 7.11. This blog post is the second in a series where we explore how to show competence in C.C. 7.11, regarding how a coach can share thoughts, feelings, opinions, observations, etc. See also an earlier blog post to examine whether a coach can share the coach’s thinking, opinions, and observations. In later posts, we examine the potential component and how coaches can share and help clients create new learning.


In brief: 

What the coach sees may well differ from what the client sees. Expressing non-attachment honors the client’s ‘wholeness’. There are several ways to show non-attachment to what a coach is sharing, depending on the context of the conversation, the language spoken, and cultural aspects. When applying for an ICF credentialing, my advice is to make it easy for an assessor to establish that you are not attached to what you are sharing.



The 2020 ICF Core Competency 7.11 provides that a coach shares without being attached to it. However, this provision does not include a definition or an explanation of the meaning of attachment. So how can a coach share freely and at the same time show no attachment to what the coach is sharing?



The simple answer is...the sky is the limit. The longer answer is that many human communication elements influence non-attachment, and coaches can show non-attachment in several forms. Some are:

  • Specific expressions: A coach can explicitly tell the client that the coach is not attached to what the coach is sharing. For instance, a coach may say, ‘[this] is what is coming up for me. You may think differently though, and that’s fine for me’, or “by all means, you may disagree with me, and I am totally OK with that”, or “you may think differently, and that’s fine, I am only offering my observation for you to make whatever you what with it.”
  • The tone of voice: this is probably the most fascinating, as there can be unlimited nuisances that - on a personal level - I am fascinated to discover. At the same time, this is a challenging form of showing non-attachment as it requires an assessor to source into a nuanced understanding of the tone of voice. If the assessor does not speak the language spoken and relies mainly on the transcript, the challenge is higher!
  • Using silence: In some contexts and cultures, coaches can use silence to show non-attachment. In my opinion, this is both an artful form of communication and coaching and a challenging way to show non-attachment, for the same reasons presented above for the voice tone.


Language, cultures, and context play a significant role in how the factors just listed unfold. 


There is no right or wrong here, and my opinion is that it is crucial to apply common sense when choosing how to show competence in sharing with no attachment—especially when applying for a credential that expects assessors to establish the presence of competence.


Whatever the preferred way ends up being, the bottom line is that the coach clarifies that what the coach is sharing does not hold it as being ‘the truth’ for the client. Instead, the coach offers it to the client and allows the client to accept, refuse, or ‘negotiate freely’, and the coach is okay with whatever the client chooses.


How about applying for credentialing?

Thus, in a credentialing application, it is crucial, in my opinion, to make it easy for an ICF assessor to collect evidence of non-attachment. While there is no prescribed form to show this competence, my recommendation is to make it straightforward for the assessor. My favorite way is to use specific expressions articulated clearly and succinctly so that an assessor can readily determine that the applicant coach is competent in this competency area and that the non-attachment component is there. 


Are there differences among ACC, PCC, and MCC to consider?

No! This requirement is the same across all credentialing levels, and coaches should equally show competence in expressing non-attachment, whether they apply for an ACC, PCC, or MCC credential. 


Having established that a coach can share observations, feelings, thoughts, insights, etc. (see earlier post) and that a coach needs to show no attachment to what the coach is sharing, what additional requirements are there to demonstrate competence in this coaching behavior altogether? What else ICF Core Competency 7.11 requires for a coach to share in a coaching conversation competently? We explore these questions in the next blog post.


Reference Material: 2019 ICF Core Competencies


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