In 2016, The International Coaching Federation hired Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener to be the official provocateur of their annual conference. It was a dream come true. For those who know him, Robert has always had a gift for seeing topics from unusual angles. Coaching is no exception. For the last decade, Robert has been questioning the fundamental assumptions, philosophies, and tools of coaching. Critically, he does not do this out of some trollish urge to dismiss coaching. Instead, he believes that asking provocative questions can help coaches grow in much the same way that questions provoke growth and reflection in our clients. After discussing his approach to positive provocation, Robert will address a few of the most cherished aspects of coaching by asking (and weighing in on) "Should we use less empathy?" "Should we interrupt more?" and "Should we use the client's language?" In each case, Robert will offer a look at research and draw examples from practice.
Dr. Robert Biswas-Diener is a psychologist and researcher who is known for leaving the laboratory and working with groups traditionally overlooked by psychological studies. He has spent time studying happiness among Inuit hunters in Greenland, Maasai tribal people in Kenya, sex workers in Kolkata, peace protesters in Israel, and Amish farmers in the Midwest, to name a few groups. Robert's research focuses on positive topics such as friendship, hospitality, leadership, and wellbeing. He has published more than 70 peer-reviewed papers and has a citation count of more than 20 thousand. In addition to his academic work, Robert runs workshops that focus on translating research into more productive workplaces with higher wellbeing. He has trained professionals at organizations as diverse as the Australia Department of Defense, Kaiser Permanente, Standard Chartered Bank, Deloitte, and ConocoPhillips. Robert also trains coaches at Positive Acorn, his ICF-accredited coach training program. He is the author of numerous books including Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching, The Upside of Your Dark Side, and Positive Provocation: 25 Questions to Elevate Your Coaching Practice.
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