One of the most important basics in our learning of how to become coaches, is to focus on the who of the client. From focusing on the reality of the person we are coaching, to expanding the mind to know the significance of the bullet points and better understanding, determining the focus and grabbing the attention to frame the content, to establish the possible way forward with the client and then expand again.
But are we also paying attention to the importance of the WHO of the COACH?
We ask ourselves, what do we need to do to be better coaches for our clients. But a better question would be: “how can be great coaches starting from within, in order to serve our clients in a much better way?”
So how can we establish this focus and improve the Who in the Coach? We can break this down into several strategies for simplification. We can start with something that is very significant in a coach’s mindset, which is curiosity.
Curiosity is having an open mindset, a learning one, wanting to know more about our clients and what they’re going through. Consider it as being a child who is always asking about everything they lay their eyes on. The average number of questions a child asks per day is over 250 questions. They use the What and Why game with their parents. Why there’s a light inside the fridge? Why it only lights up when we open the fridge door? Why I can’t have chocolate for dinner? And then comes the endless Why’s. their brain in that age is like a sponge, trying to absorb as much information as possible. They are born as scientists. Trying to question whatever is in their hands or what they’re being told. They are simply curios, where they are stimulating their discovery. And we have to embrace this mindset in exploring the story with the client. We shouldn’t prejudge and have a predetermined agenda. It’s here where we loose the client and wouldn’t be able to help them. We wont be able to establish a connection with the clients to make them feel that we are interested in what they have to say. And most importantly, we wont be able to ask powerful questions in the right time.
How will this strengthen our coaching session with the client? This will enable us to know more about the who of the client and what they are trying to deliver as a message, which in turn will make a wider space for us to discover the true desire of the client. Genuine curiosity will develop awareness for both, the client and the coach. And when awareness is developed, we get closer to positive change. After all, positive change is a main goal from coaching, isn’t it?
Now that we know what is curiosity and how it can develop the Who of the coach, how can we enhance the curiosity from within ourselves? We can start by triggering our active listening. By being present in the “moment” with the client. Try to clear your mind from distractions and the overwhelming thoughts that we have on daily basis. Focus on what the client has to say and discover the meaning behind what’s presented, from the client’s own words. Don’t analyze based on your background and experiences. Consider yourself as if you have zero knowledge about the subject being presented. Try to learn from the client. Read what they are going through based on their point of view, not yours. Be sure that their view on this subject is different from yours, and they are the stars of the conversation. We can also train ourselves to read the nonverbal communication of the client. From their body language, their gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, repetitive words, etc… Listen to what’s being said and what’s not. And from there, you can formulate your questions. On top of that, curiosity has to be genuine. We should really show interest. Wanting to know more, and not just acting curios. We need to have the keen desire to learn ourselves. To be vulnerable to emotions and reactions. Being vulnerable is not a weakness, but it’s a strength to bond us to the person on the other side of the conversation. We need to heighten our awareness about what is being presented. This will make the client feel more safe and close to us as partners in the coaching journey.
Of course, curiosity is not enough for us to be excellent coaches. More tools can be used to elevate our coaching service to our clients. Tools like empathy. Here we have to differentiate between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is understanding the feelings of others and to relate to these feelings, whereas Sympathy is feeling sorry to towards the feelings of others who might be facing difficulties. Empathy helps the coach better understand the perception and the concerns of the client, which will elevate the coaching technique to a more genuine one. This way, the coach will better know the real desire of the client and it will help them ask more powerful questions in the right timing.
We can develop the skill of empathy by being more mindful about the differences between people. Understanding that each client sees their issue from their point of view, and no one knows what’s best for the client other than themselves. Also, working on our emotional intelligence by knowing our own feelings, and reading the feelings of others accurately. Now this comes with practice, but first, let’s work on identifying our own emotions. Moreover, we as coaches, need to keep on asking regular questions about the perspective and point of view of the client through out the session, and knowing how they perceive what they’re going through.
Briefly, a good coach should train him or herself to separate their judgement and perception towards the clients and what they’re going through.
These are only two of the most important techniques that a good coach need to develop and use in partnering with the client for best results. Knowing the WHO of the coach is equally important as the WHO of the client, to make us better at what we do, and for better outcome for both sides.