The Client and Coach Relationship: How to Elevate your Experience
Article written by Kitty Kistler
The latest buzz word to, seemingly, have taken center stage is ELEVATE and it comes in many forms in the online coaching industry–from business growth to personal transformations.
But instead of telling you how to elevate your sales copy to increase revenue or leveling up on life so you can have the freedom to live as you desire, I want to show you the effectiveness of elevating the overall client experience.
Let me start by saying that I advocate hard for the integrity of the online coaching space because Coaches are so important, especially in today’s world. All of the upheaval and change in the past few years has really gotten people wanting (and needing) to do life differently.
And you’re just the person for the job.
But, you already know that.
You’ve probably been told your whole life that you’re emotionally mature, a great listener, super understanding, and your heart is bursting with love and compassion for others.
It’s only natural that after some time researching your options you fell in love with the idea of being a coach and helping others succeed at their goals.
Maybe you’ve had your own experience and a personal journey that’s led you to the call.
Maybe you’ve had professional training and are adding coaching as a resume enhancer or opportunity for you to branch out from the corporate career.
Whatever the reason or catalyst for choosing the path of helping others, you’re ready to help make dreams come true.
That said, you’ve got the soft skills, and you’re continuing to learn the hard skills, but to offer your clients what they need, want, and deserve, you’ll benefit most from learning to structure your time with them.
There are three simple things you can do to elevate your coaching and give your clients the experience they’re desperately seeking.
ASK POWERFUL QUESTIONS, but not hard ones.
The power of a good question resides not in its length or complication, but in its effectiveness to get your client talking. The more they talk, the more you’ll discover together–and suddenly…a lightbulb moment will rise out of uncertainty.
Here are some examples of questions that are small but mighty:
“How are you feeling right now? (followed by) tell me about that.”–this question and follow up explores emotions and allows expansion into a problem they are experiencing.
“Why do you think that’s so?”–this offers them a safe space and permission to be honest while also exploring their thoughts on a deeper level.
“And what else?”–the AWE question is the one that also requires pause for reflection, use this when the client believes they’ve told you everything, but you know there’s more information that hasn’t surfaced.
“What would letting go of that feel like?”–this question is great because it offers the opportunity for them to explore a new life scenario. Even if the answer comes from fear, doubt, or worry, it opens space for deeper exploration.
“What’s your next move?”–this question is action oriented and allows the current breakthrough a chance to be acted upon immediately and in the future. This is important because this is where change truly begins.
USE MORE SILENCE, but with purpose.
Silence can be intimidating whether you’re the coach or the client making it one of the biggest challenges to overcome in a session because you’re conditioned to fill gaps and lulls in conversations. But when you introduce purposeful silence into the situation you allow your client to fill the space with the words and emotions they need to bring to the table.
Practice getting uncomfortable for the sake of transformation. Here is an example of how silence can be incorporated in a healthy way:
When using a question such as “And what else?” follow it with your silence and wait for their response. Maintaining eye contact by looking at them expectantly and leaning in toward them indicates a safe and understanding space for them to let go and say what’s on their mind. Allow 5 or 10 seconds to go by so that your client can contemplate their answer.
Rest assured that they will fill this space.
BE FULLY PRESENT, even when you aren’t together.
In the age of online coaching it’s not often coaches and clients meet face to face without a screen in between, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take steps to tune out all the external noise and be fully present for your client during your time together.
Doing so will allow you to know which question you want to ask next, when to be purposefully silent, and when there’s more they want to discuss but aren’t saying. Here are a few ways to prepare for your time together and maintain a healthy presence during the call:
Avoid back to back coaching sessions–it’s easy to feel exhausted after a session, be sure to maintain space between calls to get a drink, move around, recenter your focus, journal thoughts from the call, or meditate.
Become more mindful–be aware of what distracts and steals your attention and remove those things before the call. Take care of necessary business before or after your session times and turn off notifications so you’re fully available for the client.
Draw yourself back in–often your mind can wander, when this happens, catch yourself and draw your attention back in by leaning in more and making eye contact. It’s also important when the client is going on a rant that isn’t productive, that you stop them and guide them back with some simple questions. Allowing an unnecessary rant wastes time and causes lack of focus for everyone.
Being present helps you to move into active listening, one of the most important skills to have as a coach, because it allows you to listen for your client as they open their heart and mind and allow their thoughts and emotions to flow freely.
In a time of buzzwords, promises of massive wealth and transformation in 30 days, and ‘the best kept secret in the industry’, the real key to elevating the coach-to-client experience is to keep it simple and bring it back to the client.
Your client will reach their best results when you ask yourself what they need and how you can provide a safe space for them to receive it.