O Lord please save us from coaching gobbledeygook

I suppose that when you think about it, it’s a good thing that we now have so many rival theories about coaching.

But I have to confess to a visceral response which is somewhere between incredulity and intense dislike of the Gobbledygook School. There is a Ms, Mr or Dr Gobbledygook performing at most coaching conferences.

The Gobbledygook sees themselves as an evangelist for their ideas and indeed they would be perfectly at home in a 19th century tent preaching away about their recipe for a path to heaven or maybe with John, Paul, George and Ringo in India in 1963.

Except that in the 21st century they are preaching to coaches about: well, what exactly? That’s my problem. It’s something to do with spirituality, I know that. There may be some chanting, some lying on the floor, some holding of stomachs and breath, maybe daintily eating a minute portion of a beautiful apple or a baby carrot for those who can’t stand apples, and for certain there will be a little dose of Mindfulness.

When describing their conference sessions or workshops, the Gobbledygook presents their ideas like this

This session will bring you the deep insights of Theory Z consciousness to support profound holistic relational fluidity in your leadership coaching. You will work with bodily awareness of generational spirituality and collective intelligence reaching far back into morphic resonance.

Or maybe like this: perm any words, essentially

Your coaching will achieve holistic awareness through spiritual consciousness, morphic resonance, work with leaders and bodily intelligence. You will be introduced to Theory Z which combines age-old wisdom with generational and relational fluidity.

Gobbledygooks no longer do any actual coaching, if they ever did. Mostly they are like a travelling salesperson, teaching Gobbeldynamics, sometimes known as Gobbeldyology to coaches.

When the G. does a coaching demo, their demo client usually avers that they have achieved a massive breakthrough with whatever their problem was. When I saw one such demo a few years ago it reminded me strongly of seeing a ‘cold reading’ session that I once watched at a spiritualist church, where like all mediums, the very skilled operator at the front started with safe generalities: ‘I’m seeing an older gentleman who might be called John – anyone here lost someone of that name recently?’ and working it from there with the sadly desperate and vulnerable person who came forward. In the social psychology trade I think this is what they call confirmation bias.

How refreshing it was decades ago when a certain NLP guru, an early exponent of coaching gobbledygook, got called to account by a group of obnoxiously cocky BBC producers. They ruthlessly interrupted and then brought to a swift end his v e r y  s l o w l y delivered set of precepts with, ‘Why are you telling us this? It’s bleedin’ obvious and anyway, we do it for a living!’

What a powerful story ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ is. Coaches: don’t be afraid to be that little child who calls it like it is.