Many people think that to become a life coach, you simply need to be a good listener. Learning to be a great coach is much more than being an agony aunt or listening to people vent. Listening is obviously a very important of coaching and the coach should be listening much more than speaking. The 80/20 rule applies. Listen 80% of the time and speak 20% of the time. The coach must be able to listen to what the client is saying and not saying. They should notice what the client is saying verbally and non-verbally. The coach must be able to notice if the client is in-congruent. Meaning, saying one thing verbally and another non-verbally, or saying one thing and doing something else.
Listening in itself is only a small part of understanding the communication that takes place between the coach and the client. The coach must also be clear ad articulate in their questioning. They should be using questions that are open ended and exploratory. Asking questions that move the client towards what they want and not simply to satisfy their own curiosity about what is going on. The questions must be based on what the client is saying and the coach is observing. Not simply questions that sound good and have no bearing on the issues at hand. The use of questions in coaching is an article in itself and should be covered very well during a life coach training program.
Confidence is an important element in running any business and even more so in life coaching. You are not only making business decisions, but also working with people who are coming to see you to help with their problems. In order to be a great life coach, the coach should be able to confidently deal with their clients. I often see in the life coach training that new coaches get a little flustered when the client presents them with a “big” problem. It is as if the client does not know what to say to solve the problem for the client.
This is interesting as it is not the coach’s job to solve the client’s problem. In such the coach is there to help the client find their own way forward, with the possible solutions the client comes up with. So the coach should be confident in their abilities to assist the client in exploring solutions for themselves. Don’t get flustered by problems that seem “insurmountable” to you as the coach.
As you can imagine, clients come to coaching with various goals and issues. It can be very hard for some people to approach a life coach. If the coach is sincere in wanting to help the client, it will shine through. This will help the client feel more at ease and comfortable. This is much more conducive to getting results than somebody who might feel they are being judged by the coach.
As the coach it is important to understand that the client might be stepping outside of their comfort zone and being stressed in moving towards their outcome. Having empathy and allowing the client to move at their own pace, will create much more rapport. Imagine a gay client who is in the process of coming out to tell their family. Having a coach who is not sensitive to what the client might be going through can create more stress for the client.
One of the first things you think of in coaching is setting goals. One of the most fundamental aspects of coaching is goal setting. The coach assist the client in setting goals that will move the client to their desired outcome.
What I find funny is that all too often, coaches don’t even set their own goals. As a coach, you should lead by example in this area. If you don’t have your own goals for your business or personal life, then how can you help your client? As you work with clients you soon realize that many times your client will have excuses for not taking their intended actions. Or they get side tracked and get off course. By setting goals for yourself, you experience some of the same challenges that your clients will face. This prepares you to confidently support your client when things don’t always go to plan.