Using avatars in coaching has been a subject that has intrigued me ever since I did my Master’s research in 2014. At that time, they were used in platforms like Second Life and gaming. What are the pros and cons and more importantly, the ethical questions that arise of stepping into this world?
An avatar is an icon that represents who you are (or who you choose to be). Facebook and WhatsApp have introduced customizable avatars that allow us to express emotion or responses that are more personal – kind of emoticons on steroids. In the gaming world you are able to enter the world of fantasy and be a princess, a warrior, a Knight or an evil villai4
As a coach the question I ask is this… does an avatar help you escape who you are, or does it give you the option to explore parts of your personality in a safe space in a different way? Think of a ventriloquist’s dummy – they can get away with saying things that often remain unspoken. What are some of the things you would love to say, but don’t have the courage to speak out aloud? Could it be a tool to help coachees find their voice?
A belief that drove my personal development was that I was not good enough and that if I did just a little but more I would be. I wonder if using an avatar could have helped me have this conversation?
But what are the ethical considerations of using avatars? As much as avatars can be used to speak out, they can also be used to hide behind and not deal with reality or be accountable for the words we speak. If used for deepening awareness of self and others this can be a powerful conversation. If used to avoid uncomfortable issues could it hold the client back from dealing with critical issues in their development.
The question that tickles at the edge of my mind is can a coach authentically coach through an avatar? To coach effectively requires a high level of presence and self-awareness. What are the characteristics you would build into your coaching avatar… and what would you leave out? I suspect that coaches’ initial reaction would be that this would lack authenticity. What if I was to pose the question, if you were creating an online coaching process that is completely automated “Second Life” environment – how would you choose to show up? What would concern you? What could go magnificently right? And what could go horribly wrong?
In the work I do in the events world we have started using Brand Avatars to promote story telling and engagement in the virtual world. I have been working with strategic partners Uzi Media and Unique Speaker Bureau to use avatars to not only bring an additional level of sizzle and engagement to online conversations but to give a voice to corporate and personal brand stories.
The video will give you an example of the energy that an avatar can bring, especially when you combine an avatar and a real person. I will soon be launching my own personal brand avatar to be that provocative voice inside my head. I will keep you posted to see what emerges.
I invite you to step out of your comfort zone and consider these questions with an open heart and mind – could a little play bring unexpected depth to the coaching conversation?, ,
Bev is a conversational catalyst who believes that we lead through every conversation. She presents and facilitates the conversations that matter online and around the world creating high value, data driven conversations using interactive technology that turns your data into gold.
As a South Africa she believes that we hold a magical and wise truth in the language and practice of UBUNTU – a word that describes our humanity and that I am because we are. She uses her coaching, strategic facilitator and conversational intelligence skills to transform the way we live and work.
There has never been a time when leaders need to communicate with both compassion and power. It is Bev’s transformative purpose to bring these skills to the world.