To interrupt or not to interrupt

“The promise that changes everything”.

That’s how legendary coach Nancy Kline framed her commitment not to interrupt her clients. Holding space for people’s thinking to take place without anyone interfering, sits at the heart of her Time To Think approach, and has revolutionised many a coach’s practice and results.

In a recent episode of Animas’s Coaching Uncaged podcast I had a chance to talk to Linda Aspey, one of Nancy’s Global Faculty members, about why it is so important not to interrupt, and I got to challenge her on why I think there are times when interrupting might actually be a crucial part of the process.

I loved what Linda responded, though some doubts kept niggling.

And so it was refreshing to hear a different perspective, during my episode with Master Mentor-Coach Clare Norman, who distinguished between “live and dead silences”.

Because yes, when you speak during a silence (which most would assume is fair game to speak and not considered to be interrupting someone) that can also be very disruptive, because it interrupts someone’s thinking(assuming that they are indeed still thinking productively, which they aren’t during a dead silence, so it’s okay, important even, to say or offer something).

Clare also encourages coaches to interrupt their clients when they say something along the lines of “let me give you some context” – usually in an effort to help the coach understand something that the client/thinking partner already has clear in their mind. Given that coaching, according to Clare, aims to help clients create new thinking, this is not time-well-spent. The same applies for everything that a client shares that doesn’t seem to be advancing their thinking. In such a case it might be important to interrupt, so that the conversation can be as useful as possible for the client, instead of helping the coach to understand something that the client already knows.

Consider questions such as: “Is this a good use of our time?”, or “This sounds like something you already know, is it?”, or perhaps “Before you share this with me, I’d like to just briefly remind you that what’s most important here is that youunderstand the context, and if it’s clear to you then you really don’t need to fill me in. What might be a better use of our time instead?”

What do you think? Should we make a promise never to interrupt in order to create an effective thinking environment… or is it important we disrupt our clients’ ways at least every now and then, so as to help them accelerate their progress and break out of old patterns?

New content: Unlearning The Habits that Prevent a Coaching Mindset – A Conversations with MCC Clare Norman


Another episode of Animas’s Coaching Uncaged podcast gave me the opportunity to talk to Master Coach and Mentor Clare Norman, who’s been observing more recorded coaching hours than most coaches havehours. Based on Clare’s book “Simplifying Coaching”,we go through a whole list of bad habits that Clare’s been noticing, including their very interesting origins. Worth listening to for new and experienced coaches alike!

You can watch the episode on Youtube or listen to it here.

That’s it for this week! If any of this resonates, make it swing! I’d love to hear from you 🙂

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With Love