Being a coach is tough. But should it be that way? I mean, you are busting your bottom to make people better than they already are. Shouldn’t they be welcoming the change you bring to the table?
Well, here’s the thing. Wanting to become a better person/professional/athlete is one thing. Listening to how terrible you are from a person you are paying money is another. And honestly, the latter one is no treat.
Let’s face it, people want a personal coach to get better at what they do or dream about but, at the same time, they are fully functional adults who don’t want to be schooled.
Balancing this dilemma is what makes you a great personal coach. Knowing how to teach without teaching is your ultimate weapon, the perfect mindset others absolutely love to follow. Nail this one thing and your schedule will be filled with appointments to a point where they are impossible to track (don’t worry, we will help you with that one).
Put on your Doc. Brown hat
“If this then that” is a great statement to back up the logic of a science paper. It doesn’t work in coaching, however. Telling someone to change something implies that that something about them is wrong as it is.
Given something may as well be wrong from your professional perspective, pointing it out might not be the best choice.
People, your clients, come with personal baggage. They have experience, skills and knowledge you might never even dream of. Accept this as a fact and stop showing them what they might have changed in the past to make their present better.
Do the opposite – show them the future! Communicate how to discover new ways of doing things and to be open towards upcoming opportunities. Notice how a discussion about the future isn’t about something that needs to change now. It is about a new, better way of achieving personal goals.
Listen more than you speak
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? Coming from the queen of sciences, math herself, this rule of thumb states that there’s always 20% of productive effort responsible for 80% of the income.
Same can be said about coaching – listening is the core 20% of your activities that will pay off the most in the long run. The art of listening can and should be your secret card up the sleeve.
Don’t get this wrong though – when I say listen, I don’t mean “keep your mouth shut for at least half an hour”. There is so much more to it.
According to a Harvard Business Review article by Jack Zenger, listening is all about making the other person comfortable with bouncing ideas off you.
“Good listening was consistently seen as a two-way dialog, rather than a one-way “speaker versus hearer” interaction. The best conversations were active.”
In simpler words, your job as a coach isn’t about telling people what they should do. It’s rather about allowing them to deduce the most appropriate pattern of action on their own. Guide them through the journey but allow for the decisions to be their own.
Do you have any other questions regarding best practices for coaches and consultants? Don’t be shy, spill them all in the comments and I will get back to you with an answer. That’s a promise!