- What are you tolerating?
- If there was a ring of courage that eliminated all fears, and you were to put it on how would your life be different?
- If you were your own best friend what advice would you give yourself?
- If you weren’t holding anything back, how would your life be different?
- If tomorrow were your last day to be alive, what regrets would you have?
If a coach was asked why they chose coaching as a profession, you might hear something along the lines of “I feel like I have been coaching my entire life” or “I didn’t really choose coaching…it chose me.”
This is probably because you are a skilled communicator. You are a good listener, you are interested in people and you are good at expressing your thoughts so someone can understand what you mean. It is a gift to have these natural abilities. You also believe in the ability for people to take action to make positive changes in their lives. When working with a client, it is very important to understand that they may not have the communication skills you do. Living in negativity may be normal for them so they may not have a positive outlook on life. They may not be able to express themselves well or even know what they are thinking.
Have you ever asked your mechanic a question and received an answer that suggests they think you have disassembled and reassembled combustion engines several times? This sounds like a funny example, but mechanics deal with engines all the time. It is what they do and becomes who they are. They probably know more about engines than they are aware. They may forget how to talk to “regular folks” who do not have the same knowledge.
As coaches we want to be very aware that we are skilled communicators. We practice being open with people and expressing our feelings, even if we do not know them well. When our clients come to us they may not be able to express themselves at the same level as we do. There are some things that we can do to encourage the client to feel more comfortable. When supporting clients who find it difficult to share their feelings, it is very important to pay special attention to creating a trusting space. This may take longer for some clients than others. Be sure to communicate that you follow the ICA and ICF Code of Ethics and that you respect their right to ask you to redirect the conversation if it feels uncomfortable for them. Take some time just to chat and make them feel comfortable. Be transparent with your questions and actions and be sure to check in often. Make sure that you understand what the client has said. They may not always use the right words, so you may have to ask the question in different ways to understand the whole picture. Be sure to give them lots of time and space between questions. As you feel them opening up more, be sure to encourage and acknowledge them. This will reinforce the trusting space you have created and encourage deepening of the conversations. Sometimes it helps to bring lightness into the conversation as well.
Someone may come to you because they realize they have not been true to themselves and their life requires a “redirect”. They have already made the decision to move towards something that matters to them but they may need some clarity on exactly what that is or how to get there. With the client’s permission you may want to consider building a strong foundation for coaching by determining the client’s values, strengths and exploring their purpose. These things will bring clarity and awareness which support action. Creation of an action plan is always a great next step. As a coach be sure to “hold the vision” for the client and celebrate each milestone achieved along the way. Helping to support a client to shift their perspective from one of suppression that is restrictive and disempowering to one of expression that provides them with freedom and empowerment is a very special thing.
- Do you ever “hold-back” and not share your true feelings with your clients in case you were to upset them? What effect could this have on the coaching process?
- How do you support your client who has difficulty expressing their thoughts to open up to you?
- What are some powerful questions you could ask a client who has lost their purpose and are unclear about their dreams?