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How to Create Powerful Coaching Collaborations

At the heart of a great coaching relationship is collaboration. The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as:

A partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional attention

Your partnering agreement with your client might or might not be about 'maximising', but it is hopefully always about creating a thought-provoking conversation and co-creation.

How can tools help you do that?

The 3 Tools to Rule Them All

There are three tools that form the bedrock of all coaching and are perhaps sometimes overlooked as tools because we take them for granted. Yet, they can be practised purposefully or subconsciously. They are:

  • Listening

  • Questioning

  • Feedback

Listening > Hearing

Hearing the words your client says is only part of the listening process. Being fully present to the non-spoken communication is listening at a deeper level.

There are many models of listening, and they all have one feature in common - the internal dialogue we run interferes with how we hear what others say.

The art of coaching requires that we turn off this dialogue, or inner voice, so that we can be truly present for our clients.

One tip for staying present with your clients is to focus on their specific words and repeat their words in your mind as the client speaks, instead of listening to your own internal dialogue.

This helps centre your listening at the beginning of the coaching sessions and become present in the moment. After a few minutes of repeating this process you will start to engage actively and then move to deeper listening.

Curious > Interested

In a coaching session, questions emerge from listening. Powerful questions help shift the client, so they can explore, at a deeper level, who they are and how they see themselves, the situation and the way forward.

If you find as the coach you are becoming too interested in the content of the coaching, chances are you're likely to ask a leading question - one that assumes an outcome or decision point.

Maintaining and modelling curiosity means you're both free to tap into resources. What if you were to allow the questions to emerge naturally from the conversation? How might your need for solutions be driving the questions you're asking?

I'm curious - let's explore.

Observing > Interpretation

Everything is data - provided we take notice. Feedback has received a bad rap in recent years because it's become synonymous with 'constructive' criticism. When we coach we use feedback to help our client.

Observing and noticing what's happening can be offered as reflections - if that is what the client wants. Staying in the neutral zone yet offering useful data. The client decides whether to use that data and if so, how they'll use it.

Being an observer means you stay present and can notice without judgement.

For example, a reflection made by one client was accompanied by their eyes moving up as their head moved slightly to the side. Feeding this back, they realised they were having a deeper insight that could further be explored.

Powerful coaching collaborations start with being fully present, open and curious to explore the totality of the conversation in an unattached state. Purpose sets the intent for the conversation.

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