You Think you are an Empathic Coach? Maybe you Should Think Again. The Difference Between Perceptions of Empathy vs. Empathic Behaviour After a Person-Centred Coaching Training

Authors: Will, T., Gessnitzer, S. & Kauffeld, S. (2016)

While empathy in effective coaching is widely accepted, it is yet under researched. Following the call for process research, we assessed 19 coaching dyads regarding their processes with a multi-method research design. We (1) assessed the perception of coaches’ expressed (cognitive) empathy by questionnaires, observed and analysed the communication (interaction analysis) of (2) coaches’ empathic statements (paraphrasing and addressing counterpart's feelings) and (3) the clients’ reaction to these kinds of empathic behaviour. Results show that coaches and clients perceptions of coaches’ expressed (cognitive) empathy differ. Hence, we focused on the client as recipient and analysed the influence of the coach's empathic statements on the client. Only coaches’ empathic paraphrasing led to a higher client rating of the coaches’ empathy. Sequential analysis showed the immediate positive reaction from the client on coaches’ empathic behaviour of paraphrasing and addressing counterpart's feelings. Findings regarding perceived empathy are discussed, and future lines of research are delineated.

Expressed empathy, Cognitive empathy, Coaching, Coach–client Interaction, Lag sequential analysis

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