EmployID peer coaching core skills

Core peer coaching skills

There are five EmployID peer coaching core skills:

  • peer coaching process knowledge & transfer

  • active listening

  • emotional awareness

  • powerful questioning

  • growth mindset

In this unit we will explain shortly what they are. Since emotional awareness is a skill that is very good to use during stressful times, we will go into more detail here. If you are also interested in a more detailed look at the other skills check out our EmployID Academy peer coaching open online course.

Peer coaching process knowledge & transfer

For this you need to learn the peer coaching process and practice it. You can either practice it with colleagues directly in peer coaching or you can use our self-coaching approach to practice the process. This approach will be shown in unit five.

Active listening

Active listening is important for building trust between coach and client. It is a way for the coach to show the client that he is completely with him and his concerns. Understanding listening enables the client to talk open about stressing, burdensome, unpleasant and even embarrassing situations. Individuals tend to maintain along their self-picture no matter what. So every attempt to convince them differently is threatening, since their whole identity is built upon their beliefs of their self-picture. This means that even a well-meant praise can be uncomfortable and displeasing for someone who believes he is not worthy of the praise and is not good in what he was praised for. This keeps the person from changing. With active listening the attempt is made to change indirectly. The person is able to explore for himself, see for himself and make his own decisions to become in a position to change.

Emotional Awareness

One of the indirect results of coaching is the emotional self-awareness and it is activated by the coach through questions focusing on feelings, affects, etc. But this is not only a result from coaching for the client, but also an ability the coach needs.

For the client it means to be aware of one’s feelings and attitude it is the knowledge or perception of the self. Knowing about your current emotional state and what influences it, is the first step to changing this state.

Powerful Questioning

Sometimes they are also called reflective questions, open questions, coaching questions etc. Powerful Questioning is a method on using questions that support the client to reflect and think more deeply about what for example the situation the problem occurs really is about. For example the question “How would your supervisor feel about this?” This forces the client to take in another perspective and role, which can change the current view of the problem and lead to ideas for solving it.

Growth mindset

The concept of Growth Mindset was developed by American psychologist Carol Dweck. It is a combination of many concepts that lead to be growth mindset oriented.

A Growth Mindset…

… embraces challenges,

… persists across obstacles,

…views effort as a path of mastery,

…learns from criticism,

…gets inspired from success of others,

… believes that necessary skills and knowledge to be talented can be developed,

…believes that intelligence can be increased by learning,

…knows that it sometimes requires tenacity and persistence and

…knows when to best seek for assistance.

(Dweck, 2007; Richard, 2007)

Emotional Awareness in EmployID

In this video there is a detailed description on emotional awareness explained by Pablo:

Dealing with emotional issues

Why people get angry or upset? From your perspective, some people may be angry and appear to be difficult. Why do you think this is? The reasons could include be any of the following:

  • They feel unfairly treated.

  • They feel you are being unreasonable.

  • They are not getting what they want.

  • They perceive a lack of respect.

  • They feel devalued.

  • They feel little control over their situation.

From a psychological view, hostile behaviour is more complex than you would imagine. It is not just about getting what the person wants, believe it or not, but about controlling the situation. In many cases there is no conscious purpose at all – the person is emotional and operating on ‘auto-pilot’. It is vitally important that you manage the interview. This means:

  • acknowledging the emotional response,

  • being empathetic,

  • remaining confident,

  • being clear about what the person should do; and

  • not becoming confused.

Effective behaviour is assertive, firm, confident, but especially, aiming to be collaborative.

Note: empathy is about understanding how the other person feels in the situation, not how you would feel. It means trying to understand how and why a person feels the way they do, in other words, putting yourself in their shoes. Demonstrating empathy with someone’s feelings doesn’t necessarily mean that you agree with them, only that you can understand why they feel that way.

Tips for Effective Behaviour with difficult persons

Usually there are no tips in coaching, but in EmployID peer coaching there is a step in the process where advisors can bring in their experience and their solutions. These could be solutions to handle difficult persons for example at your work or in a training or even during a peer coaching process, when a participant does not stick to the decided rules and ethical guidelines. (Originally those tips were used in a closed MOOC for work coaches to support them with difficult conversations with clients/ claimants.)

  • Persistence (Broken record)

Be persistent and stick to the point of the discussion, to keep saying what you want to say, and not to pursue to side (deflecting) issues brought up by the person (protesting). Essentially, this is the situation, these are the rules, and we need to agree what we need to do. Repetition cancels out diversions and helps the person to focus on what needs to be done.

  • Responding to criticism

Do not respond to the person’s criticism with denial, defensiveness or argument. Instead break the manipulative cycle by actively promoting more information and then stating you will (or have) consider(ed) this information, then try and progress the converstation.

  • ‘Going over your head’

The person may try to go over your head by asking to speak to the manager. This is usually meant to intimidate. Inviting the person to speak to him/her comes across as confident. For example, ‘I know you’re unhappy about xxxx. If you believe that it’s best to talk to my manager, I can certainly help with that. Do you want me to help you arrange to talk to him/her?’ Then try to progress the conversation.

  • Topic grab to stop a tirade

Use something the person has said that you can relate to. For example, ‘I’ve got two kids too…” – a neutral comment, but the person will be interested as it’s based on what they said earlier.

  • Do not give cause for complaint

If you sigh, roll your eyes, show frustration or impatience, mutter, or do similar things, or slam the phone down, then you are giving cause for complaint. Showing ‘positive’ body language is important.

  • the person’s face-saving

If the person has made a mistake or does not understand the requirements, do not challenge (for example, ‘You’ve broken the rules or ‘you’ve done this or that’, or ‘you fail to understand’). Instead say ‘Let me talk you through this’.

  • the person clearly wrong and stubborn

For example the person may say ‘You can’t do that!’ Do not respond by saying ‘Oh yes we can!’ Allow face saving outputs for the person. Avoid embarrassing or humiliating the person. Your objective is not to win the argument, but to deal effectively and professionally with the person, whether they are right or wrong.

All these tips do not only help you to calm down and reassure another person, but they are also good to keep calm yourself.

In dealing with difficult people it is also very important to be mindful of our own thoughts and emotions. People who are hostile and not acting very nice to us also trigger thoughts and feelings in ourselves that we have difficulties to handle. In dealing with that, we do not only have to deal with other people’s emotions, but also, our own.

  • be mindful with yourself

Be mindful of your own feeling that you feel in that situation, to accept it, and not acting upon it – if it triggers you to act unprofessionally or any other way. After acknowledging what you feel, you can accept it, and focus on client/customer and deal with your emotions later.

  • have empathy for others

Try to understand others anger and behaviour is hard to deal with. Thinking what is behind that behaviour could help you to understand the person and act in a positive and constructive way to another person.


Now try to change your emotional state:

Think of a current challenge you have and try show it by your mimic, your gestic and your posture and remain there for a few seconds (yes, right in front of you computer :-)).  Afterwards please think of a very happy event in your life and show it likewise. Reflect on how it feels and what you think by taking in the different states!

  • What was different?

  • Was is useful to you?

  • What did you feel?

Dealing with difficult people:

  • Think about characteristics that they find annoying in people or have difficulties with.

  • Then name behaviours that are helpful for dealing with those people


Dweck, Carol S. (2007). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Ballantine Books.

EmployID Academy (2016). Open Peer Coaching Online Course. URL: http://mooc.employid.eu/courses/

Institute for Employment Research, University of Warwick (2016). EmployID – Changing World of Work [closed MOOC on FutureLearn].

Richard, Michael Graham (2007). Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset: Which One Are You? Retrieved from: https://michaelgr.wordpress.com/2007/04/15/fixed-mindset-vs-growth-mindset-which-one-are-you/

What is Coaching?

EmployID Peer Coaching

Core Skills



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