How will working with a coach help me?
I am often asked how working with a coach will help. ‘How will our coaching sessions work?’ I do realise that some coaching language can be confusing. (Creating the conditions for the coaching environment, anyone?) Sometimes, you do understand the ‘what coaching is’ description of coaching. And it sounds great. However, the ‘how do you do that?’ is what you really want to know! Understandably, too. You want to know what to expect. This part of the coaching relationship develops as we get to know each other and is often different for everyone. It’s the ‘soft’ contract to make sure we understand each other. I've made a few points to clarify how working with a coach will help you.
I’ll help you think differently about your situation or issue.
I’m interested in ‘new thinking’. You don’t need to tell me every detail of the issue so I can understand it. I just need a little context. I won’t question you on detail that you already know. You are the expert in you, remember. Coaching isn’t about giving advice or understanding the issue so deeply that I can offer a solution. Through the conversation I will ask questions to help you find new patterns of thinking that are helpful. And sometimes I will challenge you to look at your problem-solving techniques to do this effectively.
I will interrupt you professionally on occasion, as your coach.
This will be with your agreement to keep the conversation useful and appropriate. Sometimes we lose our focus and wander off into some detail about something else. You can repeatedly tell yourself the same version of the story you already know. I will encourage new thinking about old stories – I will check if it is useful to you to spend the time in your session telling me this. I won’t discount your story but help you to be concise and get to the point. However interesting your stories are, if you want to keep on track, you need to focus.
Don’t get me wrong, being listened to completely uninterrupted is great! Having time to think does take some experience and discipline to do.
I will keep our sessions on time.
When I was completing my coach training, I used to think I was giving better value if I gave people more time. I could make suggestions, fix things or prompt them for more detail on the subject they know all about. Embarrassing! Now, I know to respectfully be mindful of boundaries and give you time to reflect, in between sessions, on what you’ve said. To let this truly sink in. I stopped forcing the amazing lightbulb moment (they do come, naturally, sometimes) and focus instead on marginal gains. The accumulation of slight changes to improve your creative thinking and make steady progress overall. The difference between the tortoise and the hare, I guess.
I will allow you to do the work you need to get done.
The new thinking is yours. The credit for producing innovative ideas is yours, too. I can help to make it happen but not do it for you. I don’t have better ideas than you, honestly. Like I said earlier, you are the expert in you. We will check in regularly to keep you on track with how things are going for you. I’ll ask you ‘What you want to think about today?’ or ‘What do you want to spend time thinking on today?’ I sometimes ask, ‘What do you know now that you didn’t know before?’ Notice I said what do YOU know. I will stay out of your content and encourage you to think. This is transformational change, not transactional change. (Transactional change works with your existing thinking. Transformational change restructures the way you think.)
I’ll ask you process questions rather than content questions.
I'll ask things like ‘What are you noticing about that?’ and ‘What have you learned by doing that?’ I might create a question that demonstrates I’ve understood what is going on for you. There’s no need for me to paraphrase back to you if that’s not your thing (I find that completely irritating to be honest!)
I will treat you like an equal partner.
We will work together, side by side, adult to adult. I’ll ask you what you are learning about yourself in between sessions. This can work better than checking in on actions from last session, as if I gave you homework to complete! You can have homework of course, but you will be setting it yourself.
I’m ok with not knowing something if you don’t want to tell me, I honestly am. You don’t need to explain why you’ve not done something. I will challenge you if we’ve agreed to work that way so you’re not avoiding things. If that is helpful to you. I want us as partners to use your coaching time to get to what really matters the most to you, not justifying yourself to me.
I’m happy to sit and talk.
I’m equally happy to go for a walk, stand up or sit outside on the grass. Whatever helps you with new, creative thinking so you can work out what steps to take next. When you’re ready of course. No rush, it is your coaching!
I am more than happy to talk through my coaching philosophy with you, just book some time with me and we can get started here.