Knowing when not to speak is a crucial approach when coaching. It sounds cliched and a little obvious, but it is not as straight forward as it seems. First you have to establish the rhythm of the coaching session. Create an environment where the client is able to speak with freedom.
I start with my introduction that is often a positive enquiry, followed by either a request for a recap or an introduction to the process of coaching depending on which session it is. What happens next is dependant on how the client is feeling. If they are relaxed then I sight back and give them the space to take the session where they want to take it. If they are a little tense and self conscious, I will start a gentle holding conversation to allow them to relax into the session. The important thing is that we both enjoy the conversation.
At the beginning of a coaching relationship there is always a period of self consciousness, and I find by having a gentle holding conversation allows that self consciousness disperse quite quickly as we get immersed in the conversation.
Once we have both relaxed I can then pick up on the rhythm of the conversation and allow the quality questions I want to ask come to the fore. I find the most useful and insightful questions are the ones that enter my consciousness first. If I over think them or force them they are less useful and can distract the client from where they want to go.
As the rhythm develops I find myself using the silence between the clients statements to ask the questions themselves. By not filling the silence with my own thoughts it allows the client space to examine what they have just stated and they ask their own quality question. When this happens it is wonderful to see as they examine and critique their own thoughts.
Don’t get me wrong I don’t sit there in silence and let my client do all the talking. The art of silence is knowing when to get the most out of the coaching session. Once I have relaxed into the rhythm of the conversation and can respond to the clues from the client to know when to fill the silence and when to give them the space. It is often described as the coaching dance.
We can all benefit from being coached. Having that space to plan and evaluate our present and future lives is so important if we want to succeed.
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