Establishing an empathetic relationship may be the most important skill a health coach uses every day. But there are a lot of other key skills. By being warm, genuine, curious, and optimistic, coaches can really dig (fish) into their client’s story. This obviously requires being a great listener; without this, a life coach can not connect with his/her clients. There are also many studies that show that ultimately the techniques, methods, or exercises used by coaches and counselors are important. The genuine relationship that they establish with the client is the one that will highly influence the success of the client.
Active listening is used in all forms of coaching. The ability to fully listen to the client without interruptions – and without rushing to respond quickly after he/she finishes talking – is a great skill to work toward. The use of “silence” is a masterful skill that can help the coach to create a space where the client can really reflect at what they need to say, or what they are trying to express, etc. But being able to listen and pay attention to another human is a skill that many people don’t appreciate deeply. We all know those times when our intuition tells us that we haven’t been heard. Coaches have to come from a place of non-judgement in their presence.
It’s a Being Skill…
We put this coaching behavior (“being non-judgmental“) in the Being Skills column. This allows us to be fully aware of our client’s perceptions, thoughts, feelings, memories, etc. By contrast, active listening is a Doing Skill. We have to come with all tools ready – both our doing and our being skills are recruited as needed by the coach.
Empathy represents another useful skill that helps the coach understand the client’s perspective, the way he/she sees reality and the way he/she responds to the environment. It is to check in with the client about his/her approach, feelings, thoughts and not assume that you know before asking and carefully listening to the responses.
More important than that, empathy is also admitting a client owns their journey and even if we have your own perspective and ways of resolving problems, a coach has to remain warm, kind, and genuine. Empathetic. Coaches work tirelessly to make sure the client feels respected; the client’s decisions and work from their frame of perspective can not be not belong to the coach. There are several very good reasons for this, they loosely relate to the Expert Approach and why it is just…. wrong.
Optimism and a warm approach are key ingredients that help the holistic life coach to attract and keep his clients. They are also contagious and the clients will most likely mirror the same qualities the holistic coach has and they can also expand them when interacting with other people too.
Curiosity, being kind and genuine go a long with with clients who may be reluctant at first. By asking well-thought questions, the coach helps their client have clarity of their visions; they have anchors for their insights, and we also work to apprecitate them and make them wonder what more is possible for them. It is a lot!
Another power tool for coaches are reflections. Using them allows coaches to do everything from helping clients re-frame their perceptions and experiences. They understand their body, mind and spirit trinity at a deeper level. This is when the client can envision new goals, even if they require change. The coach works to extract what the client wants to achieve and the goals they wish to accomplish.
Most coaches will tell you – the client wants to have a genuine, non-judgmental connection with their coach. A client wants to feel heard, seen, and understood. He/she wants to trust the coach fully especially when it comes to talking with the coach about sensitive topics. A client wants to feel that he/she is helped, guided, made to feel that he/she has all of the resources and responses inside themselves and the coach is there to make light where they cannot fully see it.
A client wants to feel empowered, wants to feel that he/she matters and that the coach is there to help them explore how to make their lives better and how to become their best selves.
I also believe that there are 2 different types of clients: the ones that need assurance, that need to be listened to, understood, to feel important and especially not judged. And there is another type that want for the coach to challenge them, to create play roles with them, to create dynamic exercises and to help them explore their possibilities at its fullest capacity. If you lack the energy for this type of client preferences, then your Doing and Being skills really won’t help much.
The best advice we’ve found is to be consistent with our training message and philosophy. WIth that in mind, we say: stick to your core coaching principles as an anchor and it will free your mind to wander into the best coaching presence possible!