Sometimes Life Coaching seems mysterious.
As a Life Coach I know when a session with a client goes well. It took me awhile to begin to understand exactly is needed from both parties for a successful Life Coaching session.
Actually both the coach and the client bring a great deal to the table when the session is working as it should. Let me chunk it down as I understand it.
Good Life Coaching equals trust between both parties
For good, successful Life Coaching to happen the coach and the client have to have mutual respect for each other that leads to trusting each other. How this happens doesn’t seem to matter. Some of the clients I’ve worked with I’ve known for years and others for only moments. Either way or something in between and when we’re lucky or work at it, trust happens.
Some of my clients speak about the connection we have, maybe recognizing it was almost instant or realizing it took much longer to develop. Either way, it’s that connection creates the mutual trust.
I know pretty quickly if I trust a client. It’s a positive warm emotion toward the client by certain kinds of actions on their part. Those feelings include a sense they are easy to talk with; that they also listen carefully. I’m also pretty good at knowing when someone is truly willing to work on themselves. Keeping appointments and making payments on time although mundane are another part of the equation.
Why trust is so important
Although it can take a several sessions for true rapport and mutual trust to develop, if it doesn’t happen not much happens for either the client or the coach. Change, if it occurs at all, is slow and deep insights are rare indeed.
Trust allows the client to consider carefully what the coach suggests and/or asks. Their defenses and therefore their resistance to change is softened and malleable when trust exists.
This can only happen when the coach also trusts the client – trusts them to tell the best truth they know when asked, to be open to new ideas, and to consider what’s being asked of them.
When rapport fails to develop or falls apart down the road, I tend to address it as directly and kindly as I can. The goal is to find out if we both want to fix it, and if so, how we might go about that. If there’s no recognition that the trust isn’t there, or no willingness to figure out how we can build or restore trust, I’ll usually suggest we end the relationship.
The Life Coach is truly a deep listener
A good Life Coaching session means the coach has learned to get their own ‘stuff ‘out of the way so they can really hear and feel what the client has to say. They’ve learned to ‘hold space’ for the client.
This is easier said than done! When the conversation gets juicy it’s so tempting to rush in with a comment, question, or something. At least it is for me and I’ve learned to quell that desire and stay with deep listening. In fact I’ve had some training in deep listening and I’ve learned to recognize the symptoms when I’m not practicing it. I’ll have a recognition that I’m talking too much, and stop. I’ve also learned to be totally comfortable with long silences.
The client knows how to listen too
I suspect most people think of themselves as pretty good listeners. That’s an assumption that isn’t always true. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is when a coaching client doesn’t seem able to truly listen. The most obvious symptom is interruptions. Another indication of poor listening skills is not remembering what they agreed to be accountable for.
Listening is a learnable skill and I can help provided the client accepts they could use some help in this area and is willing to make the change.
With out mutual listing skills a good Life Coaching session is impossible.
Asking great questions is another sign of good Life Coaching
Since I truly believe you are the expert on your own life, it’s up to me to ask the kinds of questions that help reveal that expertise. The questions actually come out of my listening to what you’re telling me.
Such questions might ask you how well what you’re doing is supporting you or working for you. The right question might ask about your belief systems. Questions might be playful, like asking what you would do if you had a magic wand; they might help get you started on seriously thinking about your life goals and dreams.
Clients need to ask questions too
The coach isn’t the only questioner in a good Life Coaching session. The client who is willing to ask question, including those that challenge the coach, is much more apt to get the results they want. In this way a session becomes one of give and take – both parties giving and taking as appropriate.
Good Life Coaching Means Both Client and Coach are Willing to Change
Carl Jung, the seminal psychologist once said “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
I find this true in my coaching practice. As a coach I’m often changed by my clients. I grow right along with them. When we are both open, have good rapport and are willing to learn, grow, and change our interaction becomes almost magical.
Got questions about what it takes to have a good coaching session? Or comments? Tell us in comments.
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