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Updated: March 2, 2002
I lease telephone bridges to do your own training.
If you were my client, your homework for this YEAR is:
The Top 10 Things Your Clients Need to Understand About Coaching.
Because coaching and the coaching process is so new, few clients know how to best utilize the services and wisdom of their coach. Thus, it is up to you to educate them at the beginning of the process and remind them continuously throughout your coaching of them.
1. That the client does most of the work, not the coach. Some clients think that the coach has all the answers, can tell them exactly what to do, or should make the client do stuff. Not a good idea.
2. That the coach's job is to share what they see and sense, not solve the client's problems. The client needs to handle their own problems. The coach can share wisdom, steps, solutions and advice, but don't create a dependency.
3. That it's up to the client to ask the coach to coach them differently, if needed. There are dozens of personality styles of coaching and the client needs to suggest style changes to the coach.
4. That the coach's job is to ask for more than the client can reasonably do. The best coaches ask for the stars and settle for the moon. The client can always decline or negotiate.
5. That their coach is their success partner, not their cattle prod or accountability service. It's fine to support the client to take actions, but the best coaching occurs when the client is self-generative vs. being pushed.
6. That the coach works with the client as a person, not just on the client's situation or goals. True, the coach needs to help the client reach their goals and solve problems, but often these occur faster when the client and coach talk about the client (who they are, where they come from, where they're at, how they think, assumptions they've made, what motivates them, etc.).
7. That the value of coaching isn't based on how much time is spent coaching. Great coaching can occur in 60 seconds -- when the right thing is said in the right way, the client leaps forward.
8. That the original goals may change or be abandoned. Few individuals really know what they want; better to let the real goals emerge during the coaching process than to have to know them all in advance.
9. That sometimes the coach will need to work on strengthening the client, instead of encouraging the client to accomplish something. Most goals are reached more quickly and easily when the client has a strong Personal Foundation; this takes time, but lasts a lifetime.
10. That the coaching session isn't the key aspect of the coach process. Having great sessions with clients is important, but it's not the "quality" of the session that's most important. Rather, it's how well the client integrates and uses what was discussed between sessions.
About the Submitter: This piece was originally submitted by Thomas J. Leonard.
The Top 10 Tips for Becoming a Better Listener
Most people spend roughly 70% of their waking hours in some form of verbal communication. Yet, how many of us have ever had any formal training in the art of listening? Here are ten things you can do to improve your listening skills.
1. Approach the listening experience from a state of centeredness. To be centered is to be completely calm at a very deep level, to be without agendas or predisposition's as to the outcome, and to be open to experience. Centeredness is a prerequisite to truly open listening. It sets the stage for the points below. For more on this topic, see Top Ten List #30, "Ten Ways to Develop Positive 'Ki' (Energy)"
2. Never rule out any topic of discussion as uninteresting. Creative people are always on the lookout for new information. While some conversations may be completely inane, it's wise to make sure the subject is not worthwhile before tuning out completely.
3. Accept the speaker's message. On the face of it, this would seem to be an argument for gullibility--for believing almost anything anyone tells you. It's not. The point here is to withhold judgment during the immediate experience of listening. In accepting "as is", you're not making a determination as to the truth or falsity of the statement, you're simply acknowledging exactly what the speaker is saying--right or wrong, good or bad, true or false. This capacity for total acceptance frees the mind to listen for other clues, for example ...
4. Listen for the whole message. One estimate has it that 75% of all communication is non-verbal. If you take away the words, what's left? Plenty, it turns out. Beyond the words themselves is a host of clues as to what the speaker is communicating. Some examples: posture (rigid or relaxed, closed or open); facial expression (does it support the words?); hands (clenched, open, relaxed, tense?); eyes (does the speaker maintain eye contact?); voice tone (does it match the words?); movement (are the speaker's movements intense, relaxed, congruent (with the message) or conflicting; do they suggest that the whole speech is "staged"?) What you're looking for here are inconsistencies between with is said and what is really meant, clues that tell you the spoken message isn't really genuine. Get the idea?
5. Don't get hung up on the speaker's delivery. Then there are factors that simply reveal an awkwardness in delivery rather than any attempt to mislead. The key is being able to distinguish between the two. It's easy to get turned off when someone speaks haltingly, has an irritating voice, or just doesn't come across well. The key to good listening, however, is to get beyond the manner of delivery to the underlying message. In order for this to happen, you have to resolve not to judge the message by the delivery style. It's amazing how much more clearly you can "hear" once you've made the decision to really listen rather than to criticize.
6. Avoid structured listening. It's popular among some communications teachers to recommend a format for listening, either in the form of questions ("What is the speaker's main point? What is he/she really saying?) or key words (e.g., purpose, evidence, intent). The problem with this approach is that it creates a dialogue of noise in the listener's mind which interferes with clear reception. Better to operate from the openness of the centered state (above) and receive the information just as it comes, without any attempt to structure or judge it. Think of your mind as similar to the central processing unit of a computer in which the data comes in and is stored without change, available for subsequent access.
7. Tune out distractions. Poor listeners are distracted by interruptions; good listeners tune them out and focus on the speaker and the message. It's a discipline that lends itself to specific techniques for maintaining one's focus. Here are some things that will help: Maintain eye contact with the speaker; lean forward in your chair; let the speaker's words "ring" in your ears; and turn in your chair, if necessary, to block out unwanted distractions.
8. Be alert to your own prejudices. This goes along with #3 above, but it's so important that you may want to think specifically about the impact of your prejudices on your ability to really hear what's being communicated. Often, we are unaware how strongly our prejudices influence our willingness and ability to hear. The fact is: any prejudice, valid of not, tends to obscure the message.
9. Resist the temptation to rebut. Why is it that, when we hear someone saying something with which we strongly disagree, we immediately begin mentally formulating a rebuttal? Many reasons, but one of the most common is our natural tendency to resist any new information that conflicts with what we believe. Keep in mind: you can always rebut later, when you've heard the whole message and had time to think about it.
10. Take notes sparingly. The world seems to be split between those who take prolific notes and those who take few or none, with each side equally strong in its position. I come down toward the latter view for this reason: the more focused you are on writing down what is being said, the more likely you are to miss the nuances of the conversation. There are two good ways around this dilemma. You can write down only key words and then, after the conversation, meeting, etc., go back and fill in, or you can take notes pictorially, that is, by diagramming what the speaker is saying. Its a technique called, "mind-mapping" and it was first popularized by a writer named Tony Buzan well over a decade ago in a book entitled, "Use YourHead". You may want to look up his books; he's written several.
About the Submitter: This piece was originally submitted by Shale Paul, Executive Coach--------------------------------------------
The Top 10 Reasons Why the Present is Perfect
Top 10 Places to Start With a
Coaching Client What should you and your client focus on first when
starting your coaching? Here's a list of the 10 areas that I and many other
1. Tolerations. Ask the client what they are putting up with and they'll give you a list of between 5 and 500 things. In this list will be great things to focus on handling. When the client starts getting rid of tolerations, they'll feel like they are making progress in their life and the momentum created (because energy is freed up) will keep the client motivated, which is very important when a client is new to coaching.
2. Shoulds. Find out what the client thinks they 'should' be doing right now, personally and professionally. Most of us have lots of shoulds, yet we don't feel we can readily toss them out, given the potential consequences. Have the client make a list of at least 10 shoulds. This educates them, and you/they will quickly find out how much of their life they are living and how much of someone else's life they are living.
3. Frustrations. What is frustrating the client? Ask the client "What are the 5 things that are most frustrating you right now about yourself, your life, your work, or others?" Feelings are a great place to start the coaching process because when the client gets in touch (and shares) how they really feel, the truth starts to come out. And when the truth comes out, there is relief and movement. Let truth drive your client, not you.
4. Money. Money -- or the lack of it -- is at the heart of at least 50% of a client's current problems, whether they recognize it or not. Find out how much the client makes, how much they owe, how much they are saving or debating and see if the client is willing to make some financial changes quickly. If they do so, they usually reduce stress right away and this frees them up to better benefit from your coaching.
5. Client Programs. Coach U has over 30 client programs, like Clean Sweep, Tru Values, Personal Foundation, Buff, SuperReserve, Biz Whiz,and Attraction. Find out if your client likes working with this type of tool. If so, recommend one or two, or send them the collection and let them pick out the one(s) that fits for them. You can still focus them on other things, but many clients like the independent structure that these client programs provide. These programs can also help the client to discover something about themselves, so it meets the needs of the client who is into self-discovery and self-improvement.
6. Desires. What does your client REALLY want in their personal or business life? What is the goal that they've given up on or have put off for a while, due to circumstances? When a client feels that someone (the coach) cares enough about them to encourage them to reach for what will make them the happiest, it may be all the client needs to succeed in that area. Remember, success is stressful and getting what you want is sometimes a stretch. That's why the client has hired you -- to help them get through whatever's in the way. When you help the client tap into what they most want, they get inspired and don't need constant motivation.
7. Integrity. It's very important to find out how strong your client's integrity is. In other words, are they doing the best stuff for themselves and their body? Are they stressed out? Eating/drinking too much? Running on adrenaline? Stepping over problems? Avoiding the truth of a situation? Not taking time for themselves? Without enough integrity, whatever you help the client to achieve will eventually fade because the "container" for their life is cracked.
8. Outcomes. Many clients know exactly what they want and they want your support to achieve it, so by all means help them reach these outcomes. You can definitely have a tight focus with the client on outcomes, but also weave in some of the other 9 of these 'starting points' into your coaching. But always get the client's permission. Some clients are very happy with a single focus of achieving outcomes, and they really don't want to work on the intangible or Personal Foundation strengthening type of stuff.
9. Strategies. Some clients want you to help them develop a strategy or a plan so they can achieve their result in the shortest period of time, with the least stress. If the client asks you "how" they can achieve X, then you know they are asking for strategy. Sometimes, the client will ask what action steps they should take, but you may want to work with them on strategy development first. Because, with the right strategy, the steps become obvious.
10. A change or improvement. Most clients want to change or improve something. For example, they to change jobs or improve a relationship. The trick is to discover if their 'change goal' is what they really want or if it is something they want to do because it will get them something else, as in "If I get a promotion, I'll be more fulfilled." As a coach, you might want to work with the client on Values first to find out what WOULD fulfill them, because a promotion may not be the ticket.
By Thomas Leonard, Founder, CoachU.