Here is a guide to 3 approaches to coaching relationships.
Want to coach relationships professionally? These are a few very powerful, successful approaches.
- Whether this is in a business environment where you’re coaching colleagues to get along better, to create more cooperation and harmony within teams,
- You’re working with managers and their relationships, both laterally up and down in an organization,
- Or you want to work with couples or even family dynamics.
Take on board and master these three super helpful approaches. You’ll be able to coach relationships at an exceptionally high level and offer maximum value to your clients.
I will share the three exact approaches that we train our master coaches and our relationship coach certification courses, which are run twice a year online for master coaches worldwide.
The three approaches:
- The archetype framework,
- And the Enneagram as applied to relationships.
Coach Relationships to Healing Wholeness:
Wholeness is one of the three critical ways that we can coach relationships. We want to include wholeness in relationship coaching to shift from a jigsaw transaction approach to one of personal responsibility and the honoring of our authentic wholeness.
As InnerLifeSkills coaches and Master Coaches, we see our clients as whole and complete, even if they don’t yet – especially when we coach relationships.
And we challenge and inspire through coaching processes and holding a safe for people to challenge their inner obstacles, transform those obstacles and liberate their inner wealth.
And wholeness is part of the wealth that we discover when we look a little bit deeper than the surface mind, the surface heart, and the surface of our gut instincts.
A wholeness-based approach to relationship coaching means that instead of negotiating who is providing what emotional fulfillment to the other and the power struggles of typical relationship dynamics, we are challenging and inspiring our clients to take full responsibility for their wholeness.
It’s important that you understand what wholeness is so you to guide and facilitate clients to claim and restore their wholeness.
You can use this kind of understanding, and these approaches to coach relationships at home and a family environment, intimate relationships partnerships, and a business environment.
If wholeness is not encouraged as the primary focus of relationship coaching, we risk reinforcing the idea that everybody is incomplete until they find another to complete them. This denies them true love, true accountability, true autonomy, and the true spirit of a wisdom-based relationship.
The truth is that we are all whole and complete. And that it is not somebody else’s job to emotionally complete us.
We would never outright say that to a client if we are offering pure coaching because it can create a lot of resistance.
Instead, as Master Coaches, we want to meet people at their place of need, and we want to help them build their inner wells so that they discover these truths and these understandings for themselves.
An outdated, traditional approach to relationship coaching is to see each other as jigsaws and that we are trying to complete each other to make a relationship work.
Wisdom teaches us that if we approach relationships in this way:
- we reinforce what we lack,
- we create codependency,
- and we develop entanglements.
So even though it is a braver path to work on wholeness, it is the kind of path that allows us to reclaim our true selves and bring that true self to relationships.
When we coach relationships as jigsaws, we reinforce those hidden dynamics – parts of the self that are denied, suppressed and evicted. And it sets up an environment that says it’s okay to remain dependent on others.
We are seeking wholeness through each other.
But it’s not authentic wholeness; it’s temporary – two jigsaws give each other temporary relief, a momentary taste of wholeness.
If we look a little closer, we realize we didn’t find what we were looking for from the other person. We found it in ourselves. What feels like other people giving us the thing we are looking for is actually us relaxing into our wholeness.
It is an illusion to think that another is completing us.
If we look a little deeper, we realize it is our own wholeness that is giving us the gifts of everything, truly beautiful in a relationship.
Now you might be wondering “what am I in a relationship for?”
Relationships then change from being codependent and power struggles to true sharing. They become a place to share our wholeness with another person. It’s a place where we grant the other person the freedom to be.
That is the kind of work that we can facilitate as Master Coaches.
One of the most helpful frameworks to have as a relationship coach or as a Master Coach is the child, adult, and parent archetype framework.
Anyone who has walked a personal development path for long enough realizes that a part of the challenge of relationships is that we subcontract aspects of ourselves to each other.
When coaching relationships, we want to be looking out for these sub-contracted dynamics, knowing that we subcontract both the good, the bad and the ugly. We subcontract aspects of ourselves that we have denied, evicted, suppressed, or avoided.
And they show up in our most significant relationships and in the relationships that cause us the most struggle, and of course, offer the most growth.
How this relates to the archetype of the inner child in our adult and a parent is quite interesting.
If we have suppressed either our inner child archetype or our inner parent archetype, we tend to subcontract this to others to be for us.
We mean that if we’re not parenting ourselves as adults, it becomes someone else’s job to do that for us.
If we’re not free and liberated in terms of our inner child, it tends to be somebody else’s job to be that for us.
The inner child and inner parent archetypes are counterbalances for each other.
The adult archetype can only show up if the child archetype and the parent archetype are equal to each other and healthily expressed and appreciated within ourselves.
The moment we suppress one, we elevate the other.
For example, if we have a minus child archetype, we tend to have an exaggerated parent archetype.
And what ends up happening is someone who has a suppressed child archetype tends to attract and be attracted to someone with an exaggerated child archetype as they end up being the exaggerated parent archetype. And vice versa. Then there becomes this power struggle between two adults. Because we’re not talking about an actual parent, child dynamic, this is about adults with an exaggerated or suppressed child or parent archetype. And these dynamics play out not only in romantic relationships but also between colleagues, friendships and family relationships.
As coaches, we want to be aware of this.
The only time an adult archetype shows up in a healthy, beautiful way is when these two are balanced and equal. And to do that, we need to be aware of this dynamic and take steps to heal, transform, or recognize whatever inner obstacle is causing an imbalance between the child and the parent archetype.
Enneagram In Relationships:
Understanding the Enneagram personality framework is one of the most helpful things we can do for ourselves as Master Coaches to facilitate and coach relationship building at the highest level.
The Enneagram gives us an understanding of why we do what we do and in relationships; this can be one of the most profoundly helpful pieces of knowledge to bring into work relationships and home relationships.
When we finally understand each other, it can make the most incredible difference.
The goal here is not to take personality personally.
One of the ways to do this is to understand the personality.
There’s nothing quite like the Enneagram to give us two important things:
- an accurate understanding of the personality in the context of why we do what we do, the hidden reason for behaviors,
- and a map for growth so that we’re not using our personality as an excuse for behavior.
As a coach, you’re going to have clients excited about this kind of understanding because they can bring it into their family dynamics and relationships that they want to improve – friendships, family relationships, couples and partnerships. And in working relationships where personalities often have a very severe impact on how teams are productive.
Suppose we can include this understanding of personality through the Enneagram in our relationship coaching work. In that case, we can make a massive difference to our clients’ relationships.
We include the Enneagram in our Relationship Coaching program because it becomes an indispensable and invaluable tool for coaches.
It fast tracks and accelerates relationship transformation.
The InnerLifeSkills illustration of the Enneagram shows what we call the three personality pearls. These are the three colors depicted in our Enneagram imagery; red, blue, and green.
These represent what we call our red pearls, our green pearls and our blue pearls.
Quick personality pearl summary:
A hidden reason for behavior, which we call the personality pearl, drives the personality type.
Think of how pearls are formed.
It starts with a grain of sand inside an oyster. That oyster gets irritated by the grain of sand and starts to coat it with mother of pearl. And after a lot of work and lots of layers, you get this beautiful pearl.
Personalities and personality pearls are the same in that the personality pearl is formed around an original grain of sand – an original irritant.
(Part of our growth path is to understand our personality pearls and their grains of sand to heal and to rise to our highest expression. And relationship dynamics can show us where our buttons and sore spots are.)
Our red, green and blue pearls all have a different grain of sand to each other, but each ‘color’ shares a grain of sand or a ‘center of gravity.’
A brief look at each personality pearl and their grains of sand:
Red pearls – 8, 9, and 1 – are traditionally called the anger triad or anger types. Anger would then be considered the red pearl’s grain of sand.
But we’re not saying is that our red pearls don’t experience what the green and the blue pearls have as their center of gravity – or that our green and blue pearls don’t experience anger.
We’re saying that underneath all the layers, the last thing to heal is what we call the anger continuum.
Don’t think of anger in isolation – think of the full range of anger at a low volume and a high volume.
At a low volume, anger is a grumble – a pushback at reality. And its highest volume, anger becomes full-blown rage.
In the context of relationships, when our red pearls feel triggered, they will either push back at the relationship issue or lash out in full-blown anger or rage. Remember, this does not mean that they don’t have the other emotions running as well.
Traditionally, our blue pearls – 5, 6, and 7 – are called fear types.
That does not mean that they don’t experience anger. But it does mean that in the center of gravity, at the deepest place of healing, that original wound is anxiety or fear.
And like with anger, think of this fear-based grain of sand as a continuum. Everything from a nervousness, jittery feeling to full-blown terror and panic.
The green pearls – 2, 3, and 4 – have a center of gravity (grain of sand) on the continuum of shame, from a small feeling of embarrassment to intense self-loathing.
Please remember again that it doesn’t mean that they don’t feel anger or fear.
Every personality feels anger, shame and fear.
We’re trying to emphasize that whatever the center is, is the last place to heal.
How this applies to relationships:
Whether the relations are between a red and blue pearl, a green and blue pearl, a red and green pearl, or two of the same personality pearls, each Enneagram type can use this understanding to heal their grains of sand within these relationship dynamics.
- Red pearls/anger types operate from a gut/instinct space.
- Blue pearls/fear types operate from a mind/anxiety or insecurity space.
- And our green pearls/shame types operate from a heart/emotional need space.
As a coach, if you use this framework, it can give you insight into the dynamic of the relationship you could pass on to your clients to help them understand each other.
We explore each approach a bit more thoroughly in each of the videos scattered in the article above, so be sure to watch each one for a better understanding.
Our approach to relationship coaching is to work on wholeness as a gift to our personal development and a long-term sustainable approach to healing in relationships.
This is not a quick-fix approach, like the jigsaw approach, where we could just negotiate.
Instead, we’re going to do a bit more in work. It is the kind of coaching that can deeply transform relationships in the long run.
We’re not approaching relationships as a transaction where one party will be something for someone else and essentially try to fill each other’s gaps.
What we are doing is challenging our clients to claim their wholeness, where they rarely give the other person the freedom to be themselves.
It is not an excuse for bad behavior.
It’s about the freedom to express our unique personalities and take accountability for our happiness, love, joy, success, and all the lacks that we normally demand that somebody else fulfill.
We’re creating a space in our coaching conversations to facilitate people claiming their wholeness and actually work to build relationships based on personal wholeness.
The second super-helpful contribution to a relationship coach that can hold a space for powerful transformation in relationships is to consider archetypes.
One of the simplest, most fundamental archetypical frameworks available today is the archetype or framework of the inner child, adults and parents.
A lot of relationship dynamics suffer because of an excessive child versus parent archetype relationship.
Within each of us is the potential for these three archetypes, the child archetype, the adult archetype and the parent archetype. And when the child archetype is too dominant, it means the parent archetype is suppressed. And when that happens, somebody then is very likely to attract the mirror opposite of this.
So our minus child tends to attract plus child archetypes, and plus parents archetypes tend to attract minus parent archetypes and vice versa.
Our approach is to welcome the kind of coaching that evokes the emergence of the adult archetype.
The adult archetype can only show up when the child and the parent archetype are balanced.
As relationship coaches, we guide our clients to do the inner work necessary to heal or transform our parent archetype or child archetype.
The third recommended way to coach relationships is to bring the Enneagram into the relationship discussion.
The Enneagram is a personality system and framework. It offers a very accurate, helpful way of understanding the patterns of personality, and it gives us a very important map for growth within each Enneagram type. A growth map that shows us our blind spots and our inner obstacles so we can transform these, not only as a way to heal our dominant or suppressed archetypes but as a way to heal wholeness.
In relationships, the gift of understanding our Enneagram types is the gift of realizing why we do what we do. The Enneagram gives us this kind of clarity.
With these three ways of coaching relationships taken onboard, you would be able to work at a Master Coaching level to offer relationship coaching that changes lives in the work and home environments.
You’ll be able to:
- Challenge and inspire your clients to claim their wholeness,
- encourage them to bring the gift of wholeness to every relationship
- help them understand their archetype or power struggles within themselves and others to work on healing and transforming those,
- as well as give the clarity that the Enneagram can provide us to identify areas of compatibility and conflict,
- and help clients take responsibility for their role in THEIR relationship dynamics.