“Would you like to talk about that?” I responded and the call went on from there.
By the end of the call, we had made progress – good progress. The client was happy. She had more clearly defined her issue and come up with action steps taking her closer to where she wanted to be.
Things were looking good.
And then the third voice, the silent observer, my evaluator came on the line.
I was still fairly new to coaching, and my client had agreed to having our session observed as part of my pathway to ICF certification. I was delighted that she had done so because it gave me tremendous insight and feedback and also allowed her to benefit, not just from my coaching, but from the MCC ICF certified coach who reviewed the call.
His voice came through the line, “Well done. Nice call,” he said before asking our opinions about how the call went.
I spoke of things I wanted to improve, points I knew I still had to work on. The client spoke of things I had done well, things she liked about how I had handled the call and questions I had asked that were most powerful to her.
The instructor agreed but then added, “What if you had challenged her more?”
Silence. From both the client and myself.
Finally I repeated with a question, “Challenge her more?”
“Yes,” the instructor replied, “What if you had said, ‘What if it isn’t complex at all?'”
Silence continued for a moment and then I heard it, the small, swift intake of breath from my client, “OH! Do you mean if the situation was actually very simple if I had…” she went on to explain a new direction with clear excitement in her voice.
It was a conversation I had that would immediately change my coaching and help my clients reach their goals so much more quickly and easily.
Yes, by the end of the call, we all agreed good progress had been made and positive plans were in place to move forward, but the observer had pointed out a mistake I had made that many coaches make without realizing it. It’s a mistake many of those being coached aren’t even aware is being made.
I had trusted the client instead of trusting the process.
I had believed the client when she said her situation was complex when I should have challenged her to see things differently. I should have pushed her to reevaluate the complexity of her situation and find new simpler avenues to explore.
By trusting my client, I had leaned on what she thought to be true rather than challenging her beliefs and helping her stand on her own. I had limited her to opening doors that had been barred rather than helping her discover doors she never knew existed.
Yes, opening barred doors is good,
but as your life coach,
I’m not satisfied with good.
I want the best for you!
My job is to challenge you to see things in yourself and in your situation that you never suspected were there. My job isn’t to accept what you say about yourself or how you see things but to help you find power within yourself that even your best friend wouldn’t have guessed at. My job is to question you in a way that is gentle and caring but also probing in a way that others might be afraid would hurt your feelings or be seen as misunderstanding and cause a loss of your friendship.
Friends certainly don’t mean to limit, but they are so close to you and your situation that they can’t see things outside of your vision. They know and trust you. That’s the way it should be with a friend.
My job isn’t to be your friend in our coaching sessions.
OUCH! That’s still hard for me to say because I have genuine Love in my heart for so many of those I coach both in person and online, but it is because of that Love that I so want to help you grow and move forward as fast as you are comfortable doing.
And that’s why I won’t trust you while we’re coaching. I will trust the process. I will trust powerful questions and active listening rather than you or my desire to be liked by you. I will trust that through the process you will open invisible doors and get free reign to explore glorious (and sometimes not so glorious!) options. I will trust that it is in challenge that you grow the most and that in challenge you really do discover God’s plan for you.
Sometimes the client is right all along and the challenge is defeated. This is still a win for the client who has examined things from different points of view and is becomes even more confident and assertive about choosing her action steps.
You see, as a life coach, the idea of trusting the process isn’t really very complex at all.
It is simply the best way to get the client happily to her goals.
It is the best way for the client to learn to trust herself and the steps she is taking.
And learning to trust yourself is far more important than my trusting you during your sessions or at any time after either!