The Secret to Successful Coaching Conversations

The Secret to Successful Coaching Conversations
June 25, 2019 Pam Griffiths
Effective coaching techniques

I have been working as a coach now for over 20 years and as an accredited coach over a decade.

My journey has introduced me to many amazing coaches like you, with your own style and unique brilliance. Over the years, I’ve met hundreds of aspiring coaches (not yet credentialed) and those who are ICF accredited coaches.

Certified coaches learn to hold the space for clients to explore deeper issues. Many of you inspire your clients, teams and those you are closely connected to. The challenge I most often hear, are coaches (in all forms; entrepreneurs, CEO’s, leaders, managers) coach by providing answers; and even telling clients, teams, what to do and how to do it. (To be fully transparent, I am allergic to this style of coaching)

You see “true” coaching isn’t about telling. In my experience, I’ve met and worked with many brilliant coaches that use the word “coaching” freely, where coaching skills and effective coaching techniques are lacking.

What I’d like to underscore here is that your job as a coach is to inspire your clients to make deep, lasting change and motivate them to take BIG action. Sometimes, this can be tough, especially if we come from a place of telling (because that’s what you’ve been taught) and if this is you, it’s totally not your fault, I’ve been there too.

The secret to successful coaching conversations resides within the coach.

The secret to successful coaching conversations resides within the coach. By using these effective coaching techniques, you’ll be on your way to having more successful coaching conversations.

Take the time to listen deeply

Effective listening means listening on many levels with genuine curiosity and without judgement. Your clients don’t have the time to unpack their issues and let it all out on a regular basis with people they trust enough to let their guard down. Providing them with the space to do so comfortably builds trust between you and your client. When we are effectively listening, people feel safe enough to dive deeper into a topic and get to the root of their problems. 

Often, people think they’re fully listening, but most of us are only half listening because we’re in a constant state of distraction – the concerns going on in our minds, the opinions of others or what’s happening around us. Fully listening requires us to stop distractions, stop forming judgements or opinions and stop allowing our own agendas to get in the way. We must remain fully present in the moment. 

When coaching others, using our intuition, observing nonverbal communication (e.g. body language or tone) and being fully present allows us to sense when something else is going on. Just as we listen to our own inner world, we intuit for our clients as well. We listen to their spoken words as well unspoken. 

Yet to do all of this effectively, we must first understand ourselves before we can illuminate others. 


Ask, don’t tell 

Of all effective coaching techniques, this is the one most coaches are missing in their toolkit. Coaches aren’t mind readers (I sometimes find myself getting caught here, do you too?) We don’t know it all. As coaches, we have different life and business experiences than our coachees which means we can never fully know what the right answer is for them. Asking questions helps us to determine what’s important to THEM. 

The skill of asking questions is the key to coaching. Coaches don’t set the agenda or give the answers. A coach is not a mentor or a consultant – we are neutral, curious and exploratory. We empower the coachee to take action on what they are ready to commit to. 

When coaches provide answers, they underestimate an individual’s capability, which keeps them thinking small. There is a world of difference between helping someone step into their potential versus telling them what to do.

Not only does telling keep thinking small, it also brings our own assumptions into the conversation, that as a coach we know how to better solve a problem. My trained coaches actually say that every time they make an assumption and try to solve the problem for the coachee (whether accidentally aloud or in their head), their assumption is wrong. Giving our client wrong advice can be the fastest way to waste time and not see results.

Asking open-ended questions is a perfect way for your clients to dig deeper, uncover more about themselves, gain self-awareness and create a plan of action in order to move forward. Shifting your conversation to using questions can feel challenging, especially when we’ve spent our lives being told and telling others what to do. I teach my coaches how to ask the right kind of open-ended coaching questions to get their clients thinking bigger in my coach training academy The Coach Approach System. Open-ended questions help the coachee explore the topic of conversation, peel back the layers and create new insight. They are your ticket to seeing massive results in your clients.

Explore limiting beliefs

Clients come to you as a coach because they’re feeling “stuck”. They’re no longer motivated, they don’t feel like they have a purpose, they’re just doing the day-to-day because they have to. They’re unhappy with where they are, but they can’t move forward. More often than not, this is because your client has forgotten what they are truly capable of. Your job is to remind them.

We all have stories in our heads that run like tapes. The stories we tell ourselves over and over about who we are (and aren’t), what we can (and can’t) do, what we are (and aren’t) capable of. Our stories define what we believe to be true. But they don’t have to define us. These stories come from our parents, teachers, society, and a multitude of experiences and they inform how we perceive the world. They become part of who we are and over time become etched into our belief system, whether or not they are real or simply perceived. And rarely, if ever, do we take time to check out these assumptions and listen for our truth. 

As a coach, it is your role to help your clients become aware of the stories THEY are telling themselves. From there, they can step out of their small thinking and play bigger. What is holding your client back from seeing results? From making change?

These answers won’t come from telling.

By combining this exploration with open-ended questions, you provide your clients with the opportunity to see how s/he is viewing him/herself and their capabilities. By using questions such as, “what are you capable of?” or responding with a question when they tell you they don’t think they can be successful “where does this belief come from?” you begin to uncover the stories that they believe to be true. 

More often than not, seeing success in your coaching skills is as simple as helping your clients shift their mindset. But creating a safe space to explore by using powerful questioning and holding up a mirror is essential to seeing results. Allowing your clients to see themselves from an outside perspective reignites their confidence and passion. 

With the rise of coaching, more leaders and entrepreneurs are stepping into their purpose of becoming coaches in a variety of industries. They are leading others to create change in their lives and in the way they work. What’s challenging is, I see more and more coaches hanging out their shingle and adopting ineffective skills that lead them to question their own ability and feel frustrated because they’re not seeing the results they know their clients are capable of. This is why I created The Coach Approach System™: The coaching skills academy to become a highly effective coach. 

I teach you my proven system and provide you with easy steps to an effective coaching conversation aligned with the International Coach Federation’s core competencies, ethics and standards.  You’ll have ALL of the effective coaching techniques you need for successful coaching conversations.

Ready to help your clients dream bigger and reach their goals? Want to take your coaching skills to the next level and experience life changing results and increase ROI? Click here to register for our next live cohort of The Coach Approach System™.


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