Tips for Effective Chemistry Meetings

In this article, Bob Baker – one of our Partners talks about chemistry in a coaching context, explaining why you need it and how it improves the coaching relationship.


What is “chemistry?”

  • The notion of “chemistry” implies the sharing of a connection of some sort and a wish to see the other person again. It is slightly nebulous and – in coaching terms – benefits from closer definition.
  • Chemistry in coaching concerns personal introductions, understanding background, how the coach will work, past experiences of coaching from the coachee and some discussion about the coaching assignment in terms of what to focus upon and what is hoped to be achieved.
  • Chemistry meetings are designed to determine how the coach and coachee will relate to each other as individuals and problem-solving partners, working together to help the coachee succeed in achieving business, personal development and career objectives.


How do I know it is there?

  • It is difficult to quantify but a mix of gut feel or a sense of ‘fit’ and acknowledgement that the coach will give you the right level of support and challenge.
  • Be aware of unconscious bias which is the making of automatic judgements based upon our background, cultural environment and upbringing. Unconscious bias can lead you to seek a coach with similar levels of experience, intellectual capacity and background rather than someone who may bring different styles, thinking and challenge.
  • Lastly, beware of excellent rapport in a chemistry meeting blinding you to potential difficulties or incompatibility further down the line in your coaching relationship. Feeling comfortable and harmonious in a chemistry meeting may be exactly what you DON’T need!


Rapport v Chemistry

  • If rapport is about a close and harmonious relationship, then chemistry implies a more complex interaction between people – understanding and a desire to carry on a relationship yes but not necessarily easy or without challenge.
  • It is easy to get seduced by the development of rapport but an easy flow in a coaching setting may mean that the difficult questions for the coachee are not being asked. Sometimes a difficult silence is important!
  • So you should look for a connection and an understanding of what a particular coach might bring. Don’t look for harmony and easy conversations.


What do I do if it is not there? 

  • Analyse why it is not there – what is not working? Is it something you heard when the coach described their experience? The way that they expressed things? A lack of “track record” with similar issues to you own? Just be sure it has some basis.
  • What do you want to do about it? You could work at it but maybe you believe that the absence of chemistry is too serious.
  • If is not as clear cut as it is there or not but rather you have doubts about a couple of aspects then honesty may be the best policy.


Why have chemistry meetings?

  • It can avoid a costly “mis-match” where the expected outcomes are not forthcoming.
  • It allows the you and the coach to ascertain if the their style will  meet your needs.
  • They are a way to get important “coaching business” done before the main event starts.

If you want to see the full version of this article then take a look at our book 100+ Top Tips on Managing Your Coaching Needs.