Coaching with Positive Psychology and Personal Knowledge

Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Janette Young (United Kingdom).

Why is the science of positivity important for coaching? Positive psychology is a new paradigm of psychology that has emerged in recent years. The positive psychologists will claim that focusing on the positive improves flourishing. The focus on positivity within coaching helps to build self-confidence and self-esteem in the client. Added to this, there are many interweaving threads between positivity, leadership and coaching styles and knowledge creation. Whilst coaching emerges in many shapes and forms, the focus on the positive can only enhance the client-coach relationship. As such the focus on self-esteem and nourishing brings out the best in people through human development.

At the beginning of the 21st century Seligman, made it his mission to found the new scientific movement of ‘positive psychology’. Seligman argued that previously psychology had unwittingly adopted a disease model, concerning itself primarily with alleviating human suffering.
However, precious little scientific research was devoted to discovering how to call forth what makes life worth living (Fredrickson 2009). The science of positive psychology is rooted in scientific evidence and is the study of positive emotion; engagement and meaning; positive accomplishments and good relationships (Seligman cited in Fredrickson). The goal is to increase the amount of human flourishing in yourself and others. As such, start by asking the question ‘what makes us happy’?

Only a decade old, positive psychology has produced a wealth of information about how to unlock human positivity. One key thread according for Fredrickson is that your habitual patterns of thought are pivotal. Your thinking reveals how you interpret your current circumstances (Fredrickson 2009). It is all about reframing unpleasant thoughts and circumstances into positive ones. In other words is the cup half empty or half full? Meanings are interpretations, the sense you make of your current circumstances (Fredrickson 2009).

Positivity depends upon how you think. In my own work on know-how in personal knowledge creation I also discuss positive and negative thoughts and their impact on the individual from a knowledge creation perspective. Observing your own thoughts is the first step to redesigning your future (Young 2012).Awareness of thoughts is a first step process in of creation knowledge at the cognitive level of socialised knowledge. All knowledge starts at the individual level. Encouraging clients to observe and assess their self-talk as part of personal capital can be worthwhile and insightful and becomes a tool for working on those limiting beliefs that stop clients moving forward.

In positivity a key way to increase your positivity ratio is to find positive meaning more frequently within your daily life. Another idea is to find the good within the good in order to turn something positive into something even more positive. Savour goodness; count your blessings; acts of kindness; follow your passion; positively dreaming about your future; apply your strengths; heartfelt sincerity. Connect with others and nature and open your mind and heart are just some of the factors that Barbara Fredrickson puts forward as ways to increase your positive outlook. The question to ask is: Are you a positive psychologist? Are you aware that you are already using positive psychology? In particular at various stages in the coaching process it is wise for coaches to focus on the positive when working with clients. If the mood or discussion wonders into the negative when
trying to create the vision for the future, then it is important to recognise this and take the client towards a more positive place. A positive approach enables the client to visualise their future in all its glory, and thus this helps the coach to understand the big picture in the long term as they tune into the clients vision. Positivity links to wellness and is recognised as a therapeutic approach to encourage change.

Using positivity in all forms of coaching builds self-esteem. Added to this, as stressed a positive mental attitude is imperative in personal knowledge creation. As such, a focus on the following points may make best use of these techniques when dealing with clients.

  • Become aware of your clients mood. Tip over into positive when appropriate.
  • Focus on positive dreaming about the future. Visualise your future success in detail. Visualising increases brain activity.
  • Focus on where the client finds meaning. Meanings are interpretations the sense you make of your current circumstances. Increase positivity by finding meaning in daily activities.
  • Show acts of kindness and gratitude. Counting kindness interventions helps people to flourish.
  • Focus on strengths and positive accomplishments. Find new ways to learn and apply your strengths.
  • Be aware of the rain-drops of the mind. Are they positive or negative? Be aware of what you allow to be into your thoughts and how this affects your feelings.
  • Make best use of positive psychology to create a healing space. Connect with nature. Find nearby nature.
  • Create a positive supportive professional relationship.

The focus on the above may improve employee performance and encourage the development of a positive personal vision and mental attitude. In a simple way, focusing on these techniques can encourage successful outcomes in the coaching arena by improving health and wellness, healing, creativity and flourishing. This approach indeed adds to the tool-box of approaches and perspective to be considered when developing the powerful supportive coaching relationship.


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