If you want to be a successful life coach and grow your business, you’ve got to really help your clients. Whether you’re practicing or learning the top coaching skills for the first time, they are essential to helping guide your client through a successful and productive session.
Skill 1: Show, Don’t Tell
As a certified life coach, you have to remember that your job is not to tell your client what to do; rather, you should focus on guiding him or her through the session in order to help them discover the answers they seek within themselves.
A life coach is not a therapist, we don’t offer advice and we don’t diagnose – but we do help our clients decide what actions he or she wants to take in order to meet their goals. You’re going to focus on leading your client to discover the solutions he seeks on his own, within himself. You’ll just provide tools and guidance along the way.
By engaging with your client using the following techniques during your coaching sessions, you can guide him or her from problem to solution – and the answers will all come from within.
The following coaching skills are considered the very basis of good coaching, and they’re also among the ICF Core Competencies that you’ll need to fully understand in order to become an International Coach Federation Certified Coach.
Skill 2 : Ask Powerful Questions.
When it comes to coaching, one thing is for sure: a powerful, well-timed question can cause a person to really dig deep and come up with some real answers – often answers they didn’t even consciously know before.
Once you’ve gone through the basics of a session, including establishing guidelines and expectations with your coaching agreement and establishing trust and intimacy, you’re ready to start finding out what your client really wants to get out of your sessions together.
The best way to begin this is by asking powerful questions. We do this because, as coaches, we understand that our clients may not always even realize what they really want or need – so when we can help them break through those barriers with our laser-focused questions, we can help them reach the next level of success by discovering their true goals.
A few quick examples of powerful questions:
- If you woke up tomorrow morning and found that a miracle had occurred and life was now perfect, how would that look?
- What are you grateful for today?
- If you could change one single thing about yourself, what would it be?
- What’s another way to do that?
- What would that get you?
- What is preventing you from doing that?
- What can you do differently to change the outcome?
There are thousands of different questions you can ask – but the real secret to being an amazing coach is how you set up the questions; and then how you follow up.
Skill 3 – Engage in Active Listening.
Now that your client is talking, you’ve got to be listening. And not just listening, but ACTIVELY listening- to focus on what your client is saying, as well as what he’s not saying, during the session.
To put it in layman’s terms, active listening is simply a communication technique that is used by life coaches during coaching sessions. It’s also often used by therapists and other mental health professionals in various types of therapy.
During active listening, you are fully focused on what your client is telling you, and you’re offering feedback to your client by paraphrasing what they’re saying to you.
You’re also going to focus on hearing and listening but NOT judging your client – this is very important. Think about it; would you ever feel comfortable talking about your goals to someone who has clearly judged you (unfairly or otherwise)?
Listen with all of your senses, remembering that both verbal and non-verbal messages are heard loud and clear. For example, nodding your head and smiling, agreeing with a quick “yes!” or “mhmm, I understand,” as well as maintaining eye contact, can help your client feel instantly at ease and comfortable with you – and more likely to figure out the answers he seeks.
Active listening will also help you to see see things from your client’s perspective. It also means that your client will know that you’re really listening and that you understand what he needs from you.
Skill 4 – Goal Setting and Action Planning
Now that you’ve helped your client figure out exactly what he wants and needs from your coaching session, it’s time to help him set his goals. This is a pretty powerful process that will get your client thinking about his ideal goals and turning them into reality.
This process will help him set his goals and begin to create an action plan that can literally help him to create the life he’s always wanted. Be sure you express the goals in positive terms rather than negative ones, and take the time to record the goals, along with a step-by-step plan of action.
Tip: This is also good for a client follow-up tool: you can clean up your notes from your session and send a copy to your client afterward in order to help him stay on track until the next time you meet.
Skill 5 – Create an Awareness
They say that the first step to making anything better in your life is to understand that it’s a problem in the first place. The same goes for setting positive goals – if you don’t know what you want, you can’t ever achieve it. During the first session with a new client, unless they came to you for a specific purpose, you can create awareness in order to help define the reason they came to you in the first place. If you’ve been working with them for awhile, you might already have that info, so you can use this technique to help them figure out their next steps or to determine a new or more effective way to deal with something.
To create awareness is to take the information that you’re gathering during your coaching session and help your client reframe it. You do this by evaluating the various pieces of the proverbial puzzle your client is handing you, and then putting them all together,
This helps your client to start to understand the situation from a new perspective, allowing him to reach a new level of awareness. And that leads to his ability to follow through and achieve the goals you set together during your session.
As you grow in your coaching practice, you’re going to learn new skills and better ways of doing things. But these five skills will remain in your arsenal for as long as you’re actively coaching. You can even apply them in your everyday life in order to foster better relationships with and between your family, friends and co-workers.
Discussion: What do you think?
What would you say are the most important skills a coach can have, and which ones do you personally already have? Which areas could you use some help with improving?
Please, share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.