Sarah Scala Consulting
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Performance,  Transformed

...The content you are pushing out is really impressive. This is really admirable. There are people like me, years behind you, that you are inspiring whether you know it or not.
— - Organization Development Consultant

Question and Answer: Neuro Coaching: Granite State Learning and Development Round Table.

Last week I led a workshop on Neuro Coaching and Behavior Change for the Granite State Learning and Organization Development Round Table, hosted by King Arthur Flour. Participation was strong, with great discussion and questions about using Compassion and Compliance coaching approaches in organizations.

Granite State Organization Development and Learning Round Table - Jan 2019

Granite State Organization Development and Learning Round Table - Jan 2019

As I have written about on past blogs on coaching, learning how coaching impacts the brain fascinates me!

Questions that came up in the workshop included:

1. What is the difference between Level 2 and Level 3 listening?

Level 2 listening focuses on the other person, not our own thoughts. This is the “Listening to YOU” level. Level 3 listening is similar to Level 2, and also includes a bigger context to our listening, identifying how we are experiencing the coachee’s energy, and if we are detecting issues larger than what is being said. This involves listening beyond the words.    

2. How do we know when we might cross the line between coaching and therapy?

This is an important line not to cross as a coach, unless you are also qualified to do so as a therapist. I know we are at the line when the client shares about symptoms including depression, anxiety, or things that have happened in their personal life in the past. In coaching, one does not focus on symptoms or draw conclusions. Therapists focus on the “why” patterns occur, while coaches focus on the “how”. Coaching is more present and future-focused.

3. How can we give developmental feedback or 360 Degree Assessment results and still activate the Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA) more than the Negative Emotional Attractor (NEA) when we coach?

According to Dr. Richard Boyatzis and Dr. Anthony Jack of Case Western Reserve University, feedback can activate the Positive Emotional Attractor (PEA), and it is best to focus on the coachee’s vision and dreams to create a positive context. The more we can focus on the strengths vs. the gaps or weaknesses in the context of their vision and dreams, the more likely they will not respond emotionally or physiologically in a defensive stance.   (Boyatzis and Jack, 2018)

4. When you coach, do you give advice or just listen and ask questions?
Depending on the context, I mostly ask questions and listen to build self-awareness with my clients. There are times where I may give tips or advice when the client is in danger (i.e., Recommend EAP or a referral to a mental health provider, or when I am career coaching and I both ask and advise depending on the client’s needs).

Learn more by checking out our short video clips on our YouTube playlist on Neuro Coaching

 What questions do you have about the brain and coaching? Please share in the comments. If you have specific questions, ask me. I'm happy to help.  

My blogs and case study on Compassion vs Compliance coaching:

 Questions? Let’s connect. I would love to hear your success stories. Please send them to: or visit

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