You are trained and ready, your schedule is prepared, your appointment book is filled with all those just-right-for-you-clients. You hear your heart shouting. “Ta-Da, world, I did it, I did it, I did it!”
This is all you have wanted and hoped for as you have grown your coaching practice.
And then…something happens.
I see it over and over – we cross that threshold into our “perfect practice” and something happens. Something familiar, something… we can engage with and then, make right – very simply.
A client comes up with something we feel completely unprepared to coach them through and all that training, all that preparation, all that awareness of the full appointment book suddenly matter less and less.
It is as if everything you prepared for comes to a screeching halt in that space of “I don’t know exactly what to do/say/suggest/ask.
You have prepared for everything in your coaching career except for the all important art of BEing a coach and a moment-by-moment partner of your clients. You haven’t prepared your personal coaching readiness plan.
When I first started coaching back in 1999 I wanted to have a Coaching Recipe Card index where I could go to in any situation, like a Google-Search-Engine-in-a-Coaching-Box. I didn’t know then that I had that Recipe Card box within me all the time. I simply had to be ready.
Merriam-Webster defines readiness in this way: “Readiness – being prepared mentally or physically for some experience or action; willingly disposed.”
Engage with me here for a moment.
What I want to suggest for you is so simple you may not even think it worthy of your attention and I guarantee you, if you pay attention the next time you are up against a coaching wall, you will come down from that wall without effort and more importantly without fear and while still being able to serve your client.
You know that up against the wall feeling? Your breath catches in your throat and your voice is swept away in it. So instead of losing your breath,
Breathe - Pause – Ask – Listen
Instead of the squishing panic that leads to a breathless rush of
“Oooh! I have the answer! I know the recipe! I have the secret trick! I know, I know, I know”
Stop. Right there – and shift to:
One brief, intentional pause.
Ask one short, simple question.
Prepare to Listen.
You may have fallen into the “Oooh! I have the answer! I know the recipe! I have the secret trick! I know, I know, I know” response and not recognized it as a wall because your clients think this is what they want.
Instead, try this out, now, so your clients will discover what it is they have come to you for all along –
Breathe – Pause – Ask – Listen.
A quick note about the breath you take: be sure it isn’t a shallow, barely there, can’t wait until its over to spew the “one-and-only-formula” because…. it might it be true that there is no “one-and-only-formula” for your client.
Instead, fill your belly by breathing slowly from your nose or mouth, either will do, and fill your torso completely with air. Your intentional breathing doesn’t need to be loud, it simply has to be more-than-the-average-scared-shallow-breath.
When the inhale and exhale are complete – wait. Pause.
Your mind might even be racing now, thinking, “I am on the phone with my client, they can’t wait while I breathe. They won’t know what to do with this silence!”
Try on, instead, saying “Hmmmmmmm” as you breathe, filling in the space with a sound that communicates “I am taking my time” to your client. It is actually quite soothing for the listener as well as the breather.
If your client doesn’t want you to breathe, that’s a good clue they aren’t your perfect client after all. Using this technique will assist you in honing in on that as well.
After the pause, ask an open question and settle into a deep form of listening.
You might wonder, “What is an open question?” The simplest open question I use (and may be used in any situation) is simply, “What is up with that?”
Even briefer is “What is…..” and then fill in with whatever feels significant from this list of possibilities. “What are the facts? (What is the fact?)What is next, What is your hope here? What are you willing to give up? What are you afraid of?” “What is calling to you?” “What is it you need to let go of today?” and the perennial powerhouse, “What is it you truly want?”
Open questions begin with “What” in the style of Laura Berman Fortgang’s Wisdom Access Question: rather than “Why” or “How”.
I have even asked, simply, “What is?”
This simple, open questions stops the deluge of confusion and gets everyone back on course. It gives space for both you, the coach, and the client – your client – to
Breathe – pause – listen.
You may ask your question and listen and then ask your client to listen to what he or she just said. “Did you hear what you said?” and repeat.
And then breathe – pause – listen.
You may ask, “What is….” And specifically coach your client to answer first, right away and then breathe – pause – listen into the more wise response. The first response, without the breath, without the pause, without the listening, is the habitual “I have said this over-and-over again with no change in the results” response.
With the break-through technique of breathe – pause – listen your clients will experience the shifts in consciousness and in action that they hired you to assist them with in the first place.
Breathe – Pause – Ask – Listen and remember why you chose to become a coach in the first place.
© 2009 Julie Jordan Scott
Julie Jordan Scott has been engaged in Creative Soul Coaching since 1999 whose current endeavor is facilitating the adventure of Being Bootcamp with Adela Rubio and Writing, Coaching, Directing, Acting, Painting, Mothering and loving each moment of her life. Check out what special bonuses she is to you today: http://juliejordanscott.typepad.com/julie_unplugged/