This is a quote that caught my ear some time ago from an episode of The West Wing Weekly podcast. The hosts were discussing with guest Richard Schiff the power of silence in dialogue (Schiff was careful not to call silence “pause” because the silence in dialogue is not the absence of something). So it is for the power of not responding during a coaching conversation.
At its root coaching is the act of prompting further exploration. Effective questioning is a wonderful tool for helping your client to go deeper. Asking your client to “say a little more about that” encourages talk of behavior that drills down into the belief that drives behavior, or to go deeper, to the way of being that has engendered a system of beliefs, which manifest themselves as behaviors.
So, as you approach those uncomfortable silences in your coaching conversations, remember that the silence, the spaces between the notes that your client shares with you, those too are part of the music.