Pacing and Leading is another way of saying “building rapport” by matching and influencing a person/client to elicit a spark of change in them. You can do this by confirming to the person that you comprehend what their problem or situation and give them confirmation that you can help guide them through their dilemma.

These are two skills used to align yourself with your client. Pacing is when you match the how your client presents their concern by using the same verbal language rhythm, volume and tone while also using the same non-verbal language with posture, body language and expressions. Next, you implement leading by influencing your client to a better state by changing and modeling your verbal and non-verbal language to a state that will help ensure them that you have the skills and knowledge to assist them with their current concerns.

An example of when I used this skill recently was with two sisters that I see separately for counseling. Sister K came to her session “very stressed.” While sitting on the edge of her chair in a fast paced, very loud voice K stated that sister C came to her “pissed off” and she does not “know what is going on.” I set up very straight and responded in an elevated tone “This seemed to really upset you and it must be frustrating not knowing why C is angry at you.” Then I took a deep breath, relaxed my posture and lowered my voice and said “Let’s talk about what has happened and discuss some ways to handle situation like this in the future.” We discussed the entire conversation including how each sister was responding to the other then identified some areas where K could have made better choices due to miscommunication.

The open style of communication using pacing and leading is a marker of a well-trained, educated Wellness Coach. 

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