The Yin Yang Coaching Model


A Coaching Model By Clara Zawawi, Transformation Coach, FRANCE

Yin Yang: A Dynamic and Productive Coaching Model

Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. Lao Tzu

This is a dynamic and productive coaching model that can successfully be used with individuals or teams to move them through into a worldview that truly encompasses diversity.

Global trends towards the fluid movement of people of all ages, genders, and ethnic backgrounds into the workplace create opportunities to leverage the powerful opportunities presented by diversity. This has significant implications for all organizations; not just those operating in multi-national environments but those who are inevitably dealing with diversity of all kinds within their national workforces.

There have been large strides forward in terms of the recognition of these opportunities and the efforts being made to assist them and integrate such actions into workforce training or action plans. I propose that a coaching approach that utilizes the understanding of social behavior combined with the development of each individual’s social and emotional intelligence can enhance and speed up such integration.

My model leverages each individual’s social and cultural capital to enhance understanding of interpersonal communication; and encourage understanding; assimilation and adoption.

The Yin Yang Coaching Model

The Yin Yang Coaching Model is based upon the interpretation of the yin yang of Chinese philosophical thought as a process of harmonization, ensuring a constant, dynamic balance of all things (Wang, 2023). It is important to understand that the yin yang is seen as being in a constant state of flow with an ideal state as being in balance and containment but with the clear realization that such a static state is ‘ideal’ and not necessarily realistic. Too much of this needs a balance that … things are continually in motion, alive, fluid, and developing. 

Through the lens of this model; the individual is brought to a greater understanding of their own cultural views, norms, and beliefs, and identifies their own social and cultural capital and unconscious biases. They are then encouraged to explore their views of ‘others’ and to find common points between them. This is then encouraged further to an understanding of the value of the ‘other’ with finally a realization that the ‘other’ is simply something else, with equal and distinctive value to one’s own. 

Central to the premise is that at no time are any of the participants encouraged to see the ‘other’ as either better or worse; simply to recognize without judgment that the differences that exist – exist. This harmonization of the view of the ‘other’ eventually over time comes to the appreciation and then the adoption of certain aspects of the ‘other’ culture – the small part of the other that becomes part of our whole. 

The guiding premise of this model is that when people have the right motivation and can be brought without fear – through a better understanding of themselves – to a better acceptance of others; acceptance and therefore change is inevitable; irresistible and even desired.  Without understanding yourself, you cannot understand others. 

To better understand ourselves, we begin by examining culture. Terpstra (1987) defines culture as ‘The integrated sum total of learned behavioral traits that are manifest and shared by members of society’. The important thing here is that culture is not inherited or innate, but learned.  The major elements of culture are material culture, language, aesthetics, education, religion, attitudes and values, and social organization.

When the individual has reflected upon their own cultural position or membership; we can move on to creating an understanding of the importance of cultural capital and helping them to identify how much cultural capital they have. This leads to a deeper understanding of how the individual operates in their world. 

It is often useful at this stage to use a tool that identifies implicit bias; that may be invisibly creating barriers and limits such as those created by Harvard University and The ‘Project Implicit’ team;

As Bourdieu points out, cultural capital acts much like economic capital in facilitating upward social and economic mobility for its recipients or bearers. It is a store of value as real as money. People who lack cultural capital may become the victims of unconscious social bias; meaning that they are subtly discriminated against due to their apparent cultural differences. 

This discrimination can be clear or it can be invisible through the exercise of privilege. It can of course occur easily in case of true cultural differences, as indeed with intercultural differences (status or class).

Once an understanding of cultural capital is developed it is time to move on to fostering an understanding of social capital.  Social capital is not linked to economic capital in the same way as cultural capital is. Social networks exist at all levels of society, and members of such networks can leverage their position within these networks to achieve their goals. 

In organizational communication, these informal networks transcend or avoid the formal hierarchies or structure of the organization, leading to flows that can transform the cultural capital of a lower-ranking individual who has excellent informal relationships with superiors. 

Yin Yang Coaching Model By Clara Zawawi

While social capital is about your direct and enduring relationships with people, you can’t do without cultural capital to help you navigate a social situation. Understanding the connection becomes key. For example, your knowledge of mannerisms and cultural taboos in your society is cultural capital that you put to use in social situations to help you make friends, cement relationships with colleagues, or get a job. And if you have the social capital of a friend network you can rely on them to introduce you to new people or get you into social gatherings you may not have been able to access on your own. 

Understanding them in the context of another culture than your own puts you well on the way to achieving the fluidity and relaxation required to feel at home. This relaxation and familiarity grows over time leading to greater absorption and understanding of the other culture. In time and with consistent and adequate exposure, aspects of the ‘other’ culture become absorbed into one’s own personal culture and the ‘yin yang’ model becomes more complete.

Learn How to Create Your Own Coaching Model

Your Coaching Model reflects your values,
philosophies, and beliefs and must communicate who you will coach
and the problems you will solve.
Read more about creating your coaching model


Bourdieu, P., Forms of Capital: General Sociology, Volume 3: Lectures at the College de France 1983-4
Maslow, Abraham H., (1943). “A theory of human motivation“. Psychological Review. 50 (4): 370–396.
Terpstra, V., (1087) “The evolution of International Marketing”, International Marketing Review, Vol 4 no. 2, pp. 47-59
Wang, R. R., (2023)

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