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3 Sure-fire Ways to Be Genuinely Present for Your Client

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Let me guess.

You are a driven coach. You want to make a difference in your client’s life and empower them to make a change.

But here’s the thing.

Coaching is all about co-creating a supportive relationship where you seek permission to ask engaging questions and make meaningful suggestions.

Unlike sports coaching, where a coach may use their technical skills and tell the athletes what to do, there is no such thing when it comes to executive, life or business coaching.

Coaching is a permission-based relationship where the focus is to help your client discover answers for themselves. Because the best answers come from within.

It’s obvious that coaching can only work if the client trusts you and is able to discuss every issue that’s on their mind.

This calls for building rapport and genuine interest in the client, being fully present with them during a session, respecting their map of their world, and holding a non-judgemental space for them.

A mature coach understands that there will be differences in how the coach and client see the world.

It’s not about the differences though – it’s about whether or not you can respect their map and get out of our own way. If there’s no respect, the client will sense this and become guarded due to possible judgement.

There are 15 ICG core competencies in total. Last week, we discussed the core competency category of “Self-Management”.

Let’s explore “Communication Skills” in this post.

“Communication skills” is further divided into three parts:

1. Calibrate your client and maintain rapport

2. Maintain effective communication

3. Genuinely support the client

Why Should Coaches Work on Their Communication Skills?

In order to coach your client effectively, you need to be fully present, recognising the indicators of where the client is at. You adjust your communication, demonstrate genuine interest in the client, respect their experience of the world and enjoy the process.

Only then can you facilitate and help bring about a positive change toward meeting your client’s goals.

One of the things to acknowledge is that your client will communicate beyond words.

They may become silent, sighs, tap their fingers, make sudden shifts in their seat, look in a different direction, close their eyes, frown and breathe rapidly.

We are, as coaches, required to pick these indicators. This level of sensory acuity involves calibrating your client for the minute changes from moment to moment.

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3 Sure-fire Ways to Be Genuinely Present for Your Client

1. Calibrate your client and maintain rapport

The first step is to calibrate your client and maintain rapport.

You effectively recognise their verbal, tonal and physical indicators as they talk during the coaching conversation. And then, you adjust the communication based on calibration.

This also includes building rapport based on matching and mirroring skills as well as shared beliefs and values. Shared beliefs and values tell if you’re a match for your client

It’s a little tricky to coach someone who has a completely different set of values than you. The best coaching is done when there is an easy flow of ideas based on similar beliefs and values.

For example, if you value honesty and integrity, you’d ideally be a great match for someone who values the same.

When a client shares their deepest concern, they are going to do it with more than just words. They are going to widen their eyes, frown, shift in their seat or breathe rapidly.

It’s easy to jump to conclusion and claim that you “get them”.

But it’s likely that you’re interpreting it based on your own beliefs and experience.

Your job as a coach is to step out of your map as you hold the space for your client and be there for them 100%.

Check in with them and ask: What just happened?

As you get better at it, you can begin to “mind read”. You’ll know what just happened for the client, and what to do with it, without having to ask.

This is when you’re in deep rapport. Without it, the client will resist conversation and the questions.

Based on this new knowledge, you can adjust your own communication – for example you may pause to allow for reflection.

As you continue this practice, you’ll become an expert at picking up when the client isn’t being honest, consciously or unconsciously, because their words aren’t matching their body language. You can then challenge them.

Click Here to Find Out More About Becoming an ICG Member

2. Maintain effective communication

Provides Direct Communication

When we talk with someone, we want them to be engaged with us. We can tell when they are not fully with us.

We may not even be aware of it consciously, but find ourselves pulling back from the conversation.

When we’re without pretence and genuinely there for someone, we cause everything around us to become “invisible”. We become engaged in a “bubble” that deletes all distractions.

If you’re not fully present, you are the distraction. As a coach, you want to be available to your client especially when they are hanging out their “uglies” so that they see there is no judgement.

As a coach, you also want to be curious and open, and focus on what matters most. Effective communication is not simply gathering information like we did in school. You want to be curious to encourage personal exploration.

Being open in the face of uncertainty is particularly important, as it sets an example for your client how to react in the face of fear.

A coach is not there to “behave” like regular people – regular people are serious in face of problems, because problems scare them. You want to show them how to contrast that and bring neutrality (even fun and quirk) to a dark time.

This is when metaphors can come handy – you provide an alternative point of view or reinforce a new learning and insight.

3. Genuinely support the client

Manages Accountability And Achievement

One of the differences between coaching and other traditional therapeutic models is the relationship between coach and client – we’re equals and not here to “fix” them in any way. We’re there to guide them to be their best selves.

There is no “insisting”. You don’t tell your client how to be or what to do. Yes, you will guide them, but if their choice is to take the long scenic route, you should accept that.

This is where coaches need to get over themselves. The client is not there to make us happy or agree with us.

It takes a sense of willingness and adventure to go to such uncharted territories and do it with a smile and acceptance.

To bring about effective communication, a good coach will always magnify the possibilities and increase choice. One choice is not a choice. Two choices is a dilemma. Three choices is “getting there”.

Clients feel stuck if they feel there is no choice. Highlight the number of choices for them because it brings a sense of freedom. Be playful about the whole process.

Your client may experience many ups and downs, swings, roundabouts, peaks, troughs, challenges confusion, excitement during the process.

This is normal. But it may not seem normal to them. Be sure you acknowledge their willingness and progress through the session. Avoid saying “but”, “however”, “yet” or anything that doesn’t validate.

They may have started a new action, let an old behaviour go, changed a limiting belief, taken a risk, liked themselves – all of which is a big deal.

Validate them. And when they have such a breakthrough, celebrate with them.

As you practise the above steps, you’ll see your client as more than the momentary or current experience. You see their true wholeness and embrace all they are and wish to be.

How do you practise effective communication skills as a coach? Talk to us in the comments!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts where we will explore each ICG core competency category in depth. In the meanwhile, you may download all of them here.

Click Here to Find Out More About Becoming an ICG Member
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