I want to start with my premise for coaching; being that coaching is a process by which a client determines where they want to be (future), compared to where they are now (present).
Most coaching occurs to close the gap between the present to their future desired state.
In any coaching conversation, there usually comes a point where the client has some sort of Aha moment, or awareness (or insight) that begins to emerge.
Here are examples of what the client might say (or not say) that indicate an Aha moment is occurring:
Hmmm, that’s a really great question. Let me think about that.
Ahhhhh, I just got something!
Wow, that’s good.
The client goes silent.
Create the conditions for Aha moments to occur
An Aha moment doesn’t just occur. It’s a result of the safe, trusting space you’ve created for your client through your inquiry, and encouraging the client to speak further, without interrupting them. An Aha moment is also possible because of types of questions asked that go deeper into the client’s world. Or the coach’s comments and/or observations made, that prompt different perspectives of thinking in the client.
In The Target Approach (my idea of how the ICF Core Competencies work in real-life), the Creating Awareness competency is an ‘output’ of the coach’s presence, which informs their listening, which informs their questions, comments and observations.
Give the client what they came for!
To me, the client’s emerging awareness or Aha moment, is the platinum in the session. It’s what the client is paying you for; to get the insight they are seeking, in order to move forward. In fact, a natural output of the client unpacking their emerging awareness is often clarity about action, and what do to next.
One of the worst things a coach can do is miss this emerging Aha awareness, and instead the coach keeps speaking, or asks another question. This is the moment to shine the spotlight fully on your client, and allow them the space to unpack their emerging awareness. If you step into this space, you are putting the spotlight on to you, and the client loses the power of the moment they are in.
Be attentive for emerging awareness
Next time your client says Ahhhh, or Wow, great question, or goes silent, take that as your signal to be quiet (for longer than you feel comfortable). Allow the client to bring their awareness to the surface by speaking out what they are getting. And when the client has finished unpacking their emerging awareness, only then might you ask a follow up question.
Check with the client if there is anything else they might be aware of now. Then possibly ask what the client wants to do with that insight, and see if they already have some next steps as a result of their awareness. If they’re not ready for action yet, then ask them what they need now from your coaching (this is partnering with the client; allowing the client to choose where to go next in their session).
I wonder if you’ve had any Aha moments as you’ve read this article? If so, has a next step also naturally become available to you?
Written by Carly Anderson, MCC
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