Tales for Coaching

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 12 July 2011



Sayers, P. (2011), "Tales for Coaching", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 5. https://doi.org/10.1108/ict.2011.03743eaa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Tales for Coaching

Tales for Coaching

Article Type: Bookshelf From: Industrial and Commercial Training, Volume 43, Issue 5

Margaret ParkinKogan PageLondon2010214 pp.ISBN: 9780749461010£24.99

Tales for Coaching follows a similar format to More Tales for Trainers. First there is the theory and then there are the stories. Tales for Coaching sees storytelling playing a role in:

  • envisioning and goal setting;

  • problem solving;

  • reframing and creativity;

  • empowerment; and

  • success and self-esteem.

Chapter 1 is the introduction to storytelling with similar material to Tales for Trainers with an overview of the role of storytelling in society and its value as an aid to learning and understanding in many cultures. Chapter 2 has an overview of the history of coaching and the potential role of storytelling in coaching. Chapter 3 is called “Finding and using stories in coaching”. Stories can come from personal experiences, friends and family, films and television, fables, folk and fairy tales, myths and legends, the internet, newspapers, and other coachees or clients. There is a section on each, pointing out where such stories might be found and how they might be used. This is then followed by a section that discusses the use of such stories, and how they can be combined with the exploration of metaphors that help coachees describe how they feel about their job, and how stories can be used for meditation and visualisation. Exploring the meaning of stories, both the surface meaning and the deeper meaning can be used for reframing and action planning. Chapter 4, “Telling the tale”, looks at how to tell stories effectively. Much of the material is similar to that in chapter 4 of More Tales for Trainers, but there are addition inputs from neurolinguistic programming on how stories can be used for building rapport, for empowering the coachee and for looking at the role and content of a story from a number of perceptual positions.

Part 2 has again 50 stories, one or two repeats of stories from the other book, but otherwise different. They are subdivided into sections with stories for envisioning and goal setting, problem solving, reframing and creativity, empowerment, success and self-esteem, with ten stories in each section. Each story has an introduction – where the story comes from – a moral, and questions to stimulate reflection.

Margaret Parkin has clearly found a format that works. In addition to the two books reviewed here, there is a further title, Tales for Change, as well as the first book Tales for Trainers. Margaret Parkin’s passion and enthusiasm for storytelling comes through very clearly. Quite who would use these books and for what purpose is less clear to me. I can see less experienced trainers and coaches enjoying the structure and guidance provided by these books, but equally see more experienced trainers reacting against what feels like handholding and explanations of the obvious. Having a set of stories for trainers is a useful resource, but whether the reader wants stories to plan into a training session is less clear to me. More Tales for Trainers works on the assumption that these are stories to include in training programmes. I suspect many people will enjoy the stories for the insights they provide for the reader, and as an aid to reflection for the trainer’s or coach’s own self development, rather than content to plan into training or coaching sessions. Do trainers or coaches need to be told how to tell stories? I am sure some will benefit from help with this, but I suspect a lot of others would see the ability to relate a relevant anecdote as part and parcel of the job, and not something they need a manual for.

Pete SayersFormerly Head of Training and Development, University of Bradford, Bradford, UK

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