How to Increase Engagement With Coaching Clients: Adaptive Communication Part 2

Leadership Coaching, PCM
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Personality only matters if two or more people are trying to get something done.

This is Part 2 of a short series on how to increase engagement with six different personality types in coaching. Using the Process Communication Model (PCM®), coaches can adapt how they communicate and motivate to greatly increase buy-in, engagement, and participation in coaching. Coaches can use these insights to monitor their own behavior better, recognize how to keep themselves in a healthy place, and reduce miscommunication with their clients.

Read Part 1


Dedicated, conscientious, and observant, Persisters are the most skeptical of any new thing. They take time to trust and open up in coaching. Values is their communication currency. They seek relevance, connection to purpose and values, and credibility. Coaching works well for them because it is a good environment for exchanging values and opinions. In distress they will disrupt by questioning everything, including your credibility as a coach. They may even arrogantly and self-righteously crusade and push their beliefs on you or others. Motivate them towards positive behavior by eliciting their opinions frequently, respecting their value system, and acknowledging their dedication and loyalty. If this is you, be careful of pushing your beliefs on your client with unrealistic expectations or judgments. Take time every day to recognize your dedication and loyalty to the things you believe in. Regularly remind yourself that your truth and THE truth aren’t the same thing.


Spontaneous, creative, and playful, Rebels thrive on lively and upbeat interactions. They are up for anything as long as its fun. Humor is their communication currency. Active, stimulating environments best for them. In distress, they disrupt coaching by playing dumb, inviting you to rescue them and then blaming you and everyone else when they make a mistake or don’t follow through on commitments. Motivate them towards positive behavior by giving plenty of kinesthetic, lively, upbeat energy. Avoid cornering, pressuring, or preaching at them. They hate structure and conditional expectations. If you are this kind of coach, get plenty of your own playtime so you are have energy reserves for your Persister and Thinker clients.


Imaginative, reflective, and calm, Imaginers are introverts. They prefer solitude where their imagination can soar, and respond to a directive interaction style. Imagination is their communication currency. This may run counter to your coach training that emphasizes a more collaborative style. Imaginers are able to co-create, but need a very directive communication style. Avoid questions; use commands when you want information or participation from them. They learn best through tactile experiences with inanimate objects and metaphors. In distress they may not actively disrupt, but they inhibit their own learning by shutting down. Motivate them towards positive behavior by giving them plenty of space and time alone to recharge. If this is you, honor your own need for solitude so you can have the energy to engage other types at their level. Beware that your natural style may be too passive and nonemotional for other types.


Charming, adaptable, and persuasive, Promoters are the catalysts. They are looking for action and will engage if they see immediate practical application. Charm is their communication currency. Enough talk, let’s do it. Coaching has to present exciting challenges that push them to step up, take healthy risks, and get immediate results. In distress they disrupt by creating negative drama and manipulating. They can easily sabotage a coaching relationship by turning the tables on the coach. They are masters of shifting responsibility and blame to others, particularly when being held accountable. For example, a Promoter coaching client who is not doing their homework and not seeing immediate results might say, “I really thought you were a better coach.” Motivate them towards positive behavior by inserting plenty of excitement, risk, and challenge into the coaching relationship. Dare them to prove you wrong by meeting a coaching goal early. Use healthy competition in coaching, such as rewards for meeting targets, challenging them to beat their personal best on a particular metric, or have prizes for performance. If this is you, beware of your own tendency to turn everything into a competition, or to leave your clients struggling to keep up because of your fast-paced, action-oriented style. Find your own ways to get excitement and challenge so you don’t have to do it at the expense of your clients.

Read Part 1

Develop your adaptive communication skills for coaching and beyond by attending our PCM seminars or getting certified as a PCM provider or coach.

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