I then turned my attention on the 4th competency:
4. Coaching Presence
Ability to be fully conscious and create spontaneous relationship with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible and confident.
- Is present and flexible during the coaching process, dancing in the moment.
- Accesses own intuition and trusts one’s inner knowing—”goes with the gut.”
- Is open to not knowing and takes risks.
- Sees many ways to work with the client and chooses in the moment what is most effective.
- Uses humor effectively to create lightness and energy.
- Confidently shifts perspectives and experiments with new possibilities for own action.
- Demonstrates confidence in working with strong emotions and can self-manage and not be overpowered or enmeshed by client’s emotions.
For me this competency was a big eye-opener. As I read the explanatory points above, and started voicing my thoughts, I realized that my coaching conversations had become stilted and almost to the point of being careful. I wasn’t feeling comfortable as my disposition is to laugh, have fun and use humor. I told myself I wanted to go back to those times of coaching before I started my formal one with ICA where I was spontaneous, went with the flow, used humor, took risks and trusted my gut feel and intuition.
I felt I was on my way to becoming a better person, a more complete person.
Even though you are growing up, you should never stop having fun.
My journey now continued to the 5th competency:
5. Active Listening
Ability to focus completely on what the client is saying and is not saying, to understand the meaning of what is said in the context of the client’s desires, and to support client self-expression.
- Attends to the client and the client’s agenda and not to the coach’s agenda for the client.
- Hears the client’s concerns, goals, values and beliefs about what is and is not possible.
- Distinguishes between the words, the tone of voice, and the body language.
- Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, and mirrors back what client has said to ensure clarity and understanding.
- Encourages, accepts, explores and reinforces the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, suggestions, etc.
- Integrates and builds on client’s ideas and suggestions.
- “Bottom-lines” or understands the essence of the client’s communication and helps the client get there rather than engaging in long, descriptive stories.
- Allows the client to vent or “clear” the situation without judgment or attachment in order to move on to next steps
Listening has been a particularly hard skill for me especially in a family or personal context where we take our loved ones for granted. My wife Ulka has been patient and instrumental in giving me feedback from time to time. This has helped me immensely. I have found that practicing coaching especially on the phone has really honed my listening skills. I like to close my eyes to shut out all extraneous sounds and really focus on the words, sounds, intonations and energy. It is a wonderful competency to have in any situation, personal or professional. It most certainly makes us fine people.
The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood. The best way to understand people is to listen to them.
Ralph G. Nichols
The other thing that I have struggled with while coaching is listening, trying to take notes and think of questions to ask, all at the same time. I did neither well. As I read this competency and explored it with my coach, I got this strange awareness that if I listened completely without the urge to think of anything else or do anything else other than listen, then the appropriate question would surface all by itself. It was a strong feeling that persisted as I went through this competency and was confirmed in my later coaching conversations. As I listened, somehow and magically the question that was most relevant to that situation would emerge, almost from an abyss. I was completely and utterly fascinated.
Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change
From then on, I resolved to listen totally and completely without regards for the need to think of questions or take notes. On the subject of taking notes, I believe again, that as I listen completely I will be able to remember enough to take the relevant notes. And I do! Wow!
This is completely liberating and utterly fulfilling. I am definitely on my way to becoming a better person.