From experience, one of the most fulfilling aspects of being a coach is when your client gets in touch with a new insight or emerging awareness. This often comes in the form of one of the following from your client, “Oh, that’s a great question!” “Interesting.” “Hmmmm.” “Wow!” “I’d never thought of it like that before.”
I’ve just reviewed my own product, The Target Approach, as I was listening for if I needed to update the audio-visual. And I was so delighted to hear that there is nothing I think I could add that would make it even better (for now 😊).
What I was reminded of when I listened to the part on ‘Output’ Competencies, which is my term for 4 of the ICF Core Competencies that are demonstrated as a result of 5 other Core Competencies (which I term the ‘target’ competencies). When our client has their ‘Aha’ moment, we have a great opportunity to support the client in a couple of ways:
1. Stay Silent, Present and Listen
Our client is indicating to us through their silence, or through some of the words or phrases I wrote above, that they are ‘unpacking’ something. This is the time for us to simply breath, and say nothing. Let the client begin to form and articulate what they are thinking or sensing.
Too often, a coach misses this important moment because they are more present to what they want to say next. Instead, learn to pay attention to cues that the client is unpacking something.
The coach mantra at this point needs to be, “Breathe. Stay Silent.” And then, “Keep breathing. Keep staying silent.” And then, “Continue to breathe, and stay silent.”
2. Awareness leads to clarity on Actions to take
Once the client has articulated their emerging awareness, the coach has to stay present and listen for client energy in order to determine what to say next. If the client is still reflective, then it might be good to partner with your client by saying something like, “Would you like to keep exploring your insight, or would you like to consider what to do with that insight? Or is there something else?”
Often once our client unpacks their awareness, they have clarity on what to do next. However, to hurry the client to thinking about actions while their awareness is still forming, may cause them to consider the ‘wrong’ actions. Which is why asking your client whether they want to continue unpacking their thoughts is where they want to stay. Or do they want to consider what to do with that emerging awareness.
Oftentimes the coach doesn’t need to ask about what to do with their awareness, as the client naturally might say, “Oh, now I know what to do next.” Or they just start talking about the next steps they see. The coach can simply acknowledge the client work in the coaching process such as, “It seems you’ve had some insight into what do to next. That’s great!” Then you listen for how your client responds, and you decide what to say from there.
One of the delightful mysteries of coaching is that you never know which question, or which observation, is going to support your client to gain awareness. Our job as coaches is to continue to hone our coaching skills, as defined by the ICF core competencies, so we can be the best coach we can be.
No matter whether you are ACC, PCC or MCC skill level, the principle is the same; listen for the client shift in energy, so that you are present enough to be silent, and allow your client to form their emerging awareness. Then consider when is the appropriate timing to ask what they want to do with that awareness. Their action might be to further reflect on their emerging awareness, and that’s just fine. Or it could be very specific steps, which is just fine too 😊
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One of our unique offerings is an extensive library of MCC, PCC and ACC coaching sessions for our participants to listen to, evaluate, debrief, and learn from, along with The Target Approach to demystifying the ICF core competencies. These are incredibly valuable learning tools, and will accelerate your understanding of competency distinctions.
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