Coaching Conversation Template with Gossip Example

This coaching conversation process and example is from my forth-coming book:

TOUGH CONVERSATIONS MADE EASY WITH COURTESY AND RESULTS, which will be available by September of 2016.  Please improve the book by giving me your feedback.  

Owing a proven process for  effective coaching conversations to create or reinforce appropriate behaviors is a huge part of good leadership and management. It doesn’t matter whether you are leading in your workplace, family, non-profit or any other place where people interact.

One of the best ways to become great at this critical skill is to have a template to use and become expert at using the temple.  In this article I will show you a template for these critical conversations that works with behaviors that are not yet right as well as behaviors that are right.

Notice that I wrote not yet right rather than wrong.  Why?  Because if someone hasn’t been coached on a behavior, how can they know that it is wrong?  If someone has exhibited this behavior and you haven’t corrected it, why shouldn’t the person assume that their behavior has your tacit approval?

Gossip can be deadly to an organization.  Gossip hurts the organization, the employees who listen to the gossip, the person who gossips and the person who is the subject of the gossip.

The first part of the conversation is praise for another behavior and takes place in public.  Always have a positive comment made in public if the employee is comfortable with public praise.

P: PRAISE another behavior.

Boss: Hey Meghan, great job on your client result numbers.  Your personal training sales have always been great.  Now that your clients are getting the results they set as goals, you should see longer commitments to training and more referrals.

Meghan:  Why thanks boss!

Boss lowering his voice:  And, Meghan, there is something else I need to talk to you about in my office.

Adrianne:  Sure, boss.

R: RAISE the issue.

Boss: (Once they are behind closed doorsNever raise a negative issue in public.  Someone is always listening and watching. ) Meghan, I overheard you gossiping with another employee about Jody.  You were telling the other employee that Jody was, according to what I heard, “A slut.”  

A: ASK for input

Boss: What can you tell me about that?

Meghan:  “Boss, Jody is a freaking slut!  She’s slept with half the training staff, guys and gals, many of the vendors that service our account and…”

I: IMPACTTalk about the impact to all parties involved.

Boss:  Meghan, that’s not the point. It doesn’t matter if gossip is true or untrue.  The problem is that it is gossip.  Here’s why it’s a problem.  It’s a problem for you because the person you are talking to will hesitate to share things with you, thinking you can’t be trusted to keep a secret. It’s a problem for the person you are gossiping about because, even if the facts are true, it’s their life, not yours. If they want to share their adventures while they are on break with some else, that’s there business.  It’ s a problem for the person you are gossiping with because it might affect their working relationship with Jody, who is a hell of a worker by the way as are you.  It’s a problem for the company because you are occupying your work time and at least one other person’s work time with gossip and not work. Finally, gossip is a problem for me because I have to have conversations like this.

SELF MONITOR:  Suggest that the person monitors their own behavior.

Boss: Meghan, here sis what I’d like you to do.  You are a great worker and I am sure you quite unintentionally fell into a bad habit.  Now that you understand the multiple negative impacts of gossip, I want you to self monitor your behavior and see if I’m right, that you’ve inadvertently become a gossip.

EXPECTATIONS:  Set expectations for the other person to live up to

Boss:  Meghan, I expect you to engage in this self monitoring right away.  Can you do that?

Meghan:  (Looking a little sheepish, probably because she didn’t understand all the negative impacts of the behavior ) Sure boss!

MEETING-Set a follow-up meeting. 

Boss:  Great Meghan, I knew that you would see the benefit of not letting this kind of a behavior become a habit.  Let’s set a follow up meeting a week from now, same time, after you’ve had a chance to digest what we’ve talked about and self monitor.  Okay?

Meghan:  Okay!  

Self-Monitor Component?  When we become comfortable and proficient with this template-based process we will be eager to use it at the first sign of a behavior that is not yet right to make it right.  When we become comfortable and proficient with this template-based process we will be eager to use it at the first sign of good behavior in order reinforce it.  Because of this, the only appropriate action item is to instruct the other person to self-monitor.  And, ANY BEHAVIOR WE TRACK IMPROVES BY 10%!  That’s right folks-by simply monitoring a behavior, whether we are trying to change the behavior or no, the behavior improves by ten percent.  

Example:  Simply by tracking their calories five days out of seven for a year the average person loses 17 pounds.  SEVENTEEN FREAKING POUNDS.  

And, we put the other person in charge of their own behavior, empowering them and giving them confidence.


PRAISE another Behavior

RAISE the Issue

ASK for Input

Identify the IMPACT of the behavior



Schedule follow up MEETING

Action Items:

  1. Answer this question: Could this process also be used to reinforce a FIRST APPEARANCE of a good behavior, a behavior that is already right? (Hint-heck yeah!)
  2. Practice this template with a number of different behaviors
  3. Role play with another person to practice
  4. Implement this template coaching conversation process for your family, business, or charity.
  5. Enjoy greater productivity and harmony
  6. Eagerly look forward to the next article where I will demonstrate how this process works to reinforce a good behavior you discovered when you wandered around catching people doing things right.



About jcameron

People don't avoid tough conversations or tough actions because they are stupid or or lazy or don't care. People don't take on the tough things because they aren't confident and comfortable with a process to take them on. Confidence builds courage and courage leads to action. Through consulting, speaking, training and resources, using humor and great process, John Cameron helps teams and leaders own the skills, the plan and the courage to do what they must do to increase the wealth of their clients, themselves and their organizations. Before he became an energetic and powerful speaker and trainer, John Cameron was a proud member of the 1st of the 509th Airborne Battalion Combat team. After military service, he earned a business degree and worked as a stockbroker in Carmel and Sacramento, California.  John moved into the advertising field, leading his growing sales teams to 37 uninterrupted quarters of growth. During three of those quarters he was project manager during replacement of a legacy advertising system. While managing the project he led his team to double digit growth and found savings of $750K a year-without sacrificing people! When he became a speaker and trainer, John already possessed a wealth of life and workplace experiences to draw upon for his presentations. Add to this John's experience as a top trainer for major national training orgainizations and the result is consulting, training and speaking filled with strategies and techniques that have been tested and proven to work in the real world.
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