Coaches Stay Out of Your Head!

One of the biggest barriers of coaching effectively is when a coach is too busy in their own head thinking about the next question they are going to ask, instead of staying in the moment, listening and watching their client.

Coaching is not about the coach it is about the client. As human beings we naturally want to help others, give advice and resolve problems for people.

We get ‘pulled’ into the world of others by their stories and the way they are feeling – it’s called empathy. As a coach, the moment your client has ‘pulled’ you into their world you can no longer be objective, because you are in the experience with them.

As a coach, I like to think of myself as a curious observer. I can see the situation of my client because I have asked enough questions for me to do so, but I do not have to feel part of that experience. Body posture and voice tone make up a large part of communication, along with language, so how your client is saying things can give you a lot more information than just the words they use.

Specific use of language is important when coaching, as you want to encourage your client to talk without engaging in a two-way conversation.

For example the moment you say, “have you thought about…?”, whatever you say next, is your opinion not your clients. When you say “what do you think about…?”, you shift the focus back on to your client and encourage them to come up with their own options.

Richard Bandler (the co-founder of NLP) says that your clients will tell you their problem and how to solve this problem in the first few minutes of speaking to them!

I did not believe this until I learned to stay out of my head. When I was able to shut down my internal chatter, go into what I call a ‘know nothing” state and just be there I was amazed at how easy it was to coach someone.

Most people don’t stop to think about their internal dialogue because it runs automatically. How often have you been so busy in your head that you have missed something that someone has said to you? Well as a coach you may have just missed the important part, the part where your client has just told you their problem and how you can solve it for them!

So how do you stay out of your own head? I use a few techniques but one of the best places to start is to become aware of your own self-talk.

A good way to do this is to sit down with a piece of paper and a pen and write everything that you are saying to yourself for 10 minutes without judgment, editing or stopping. Being conscious of your self-talk means you notice it more and how it can distract you.

The next time you are coaching and become aware of talking to yourself instead of listening to your client, tell yourself silently and mentally “STOP – listen” or “STOP – focus.”

By doing this every time you lose focus, you build the habit of staying out of your head and you spend more time coaching clients to come up with their own solutions.

Fiona Campbell is a Senior Management Associate with PROTRAINING. She is an Executive Coach, NLP Business, Leadership Development and Communications Trainer and Author. Fiona has 25 years experience in the hospitality sector working with companies including Xerox and Yellow Pages.

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