How To Avoid Coaching Session Quicksand

Avoid Coaching Session Quicksand
Coaching Session quicksand will pull you under and derail the time you have scheduled with your client.

What is coaching session quicksand?

There are coaching session that flow like a peaceful river and yet there are others that feel like you are spinning your wheels in mud.  What is the difference?  At Moxie Coach, we call it Quicksand and we want to avoid the quicksand.

How do you identify quicksand?  During the session you feel like you and your client are on different pages.  You may feel like you are doing all the talking.  And the worst is, as the coach your mind is wandering.  

Moxie Coach believes there are key actions that you can take as a coach to stay out of the treacherous quicksand.  Number one is to be sure the client speaks more than you as the coach.  Easier said than done? Let me share some great hot tips to stay on solid ground in your coaching sessions.

Coaching Session Myths

First, let’s blow up some questioning myths:

  1.  I need to ask a lot of questions to understand my client’s history. This is not true. Ask yourself this: “Is this something I WANT to know or is this something I NEED to know?” or “Will asking this next question, give me more facts about this client’s goal?”
  2. All my questions should be open ended. Also, not true. One of our favorite questions we share in the MOXIE Coach Certification, is “Is this goal still your top priority? Yes or No?” This question is great to ask when a client makes excuses. This close ended question will confirm the goal and its importance.
  3. “Why” questions can make people defensive. Sometimes true. When used at the beginning of the first session, asking: “Why is this goal important to you?” will give you insight and help the client connect to the goal.
  4. If the client doesn’t respond, ask it another way. Absolutely not true! Use the power of the pause and give your client time to think and then time to answer. Be ok in a few moments of silence.

How to Avoid Coaching Session Quicksand

ACTIVELY LISTEN – the key word here is “actively” and this means to listen in order to better understand the person across from you. If you are ready to respond as soon as the client stops talking then you may have been listening to respond. If you cut someone off before they finish their thought, then you certainly have been listening to respond.

TAKE NOTES – we don’t mean taking notes about your view on the conversation. We mean taking notes (preferably your own shorthand) and write down the works the client is saying. Using their words vs your words will ensure you are both on the same page. An example would be: “What I am hearing you say is (insert their words here)… is that correct?”

STAY PRESENT – phones off, door closed, noises reduced when possible etc. We are so easily distracted that we could end up in a quicksand conversation if we are not fully present with the client.

STOP AND BREATH – You don’t have to have all of the answers. You should, however, stop or pause and breathe when the conversation gets off track. You can easily get back on track by being honest with your client. An example could be: “I apologize that my last question may have gotten us off track. If this topic is important to you, I will take a few notes and make some time during our next session, to discuss. If that’s ok, are you feeling ready to get back to our previous conversation about your goals?”

Final Coaching Tips to Avoid the Quicksand

  1. It is so important to have a Coaching Agreement in place-have agreement on the goal of the session so you can stay on track.  This is key to keeping the client sharing information that is relevant to the goal. We also call this “setting parameters”. For more on setting parameters in this new world of virtual sessions, read this article in Fast Company.
  2. Be comfortable with silence.  When the coach is uncomfortable in the silence, sometimes we ask a question that can lead us straight to the quicksand.
  3. Listen carefully to the client’s answers.  There are times when a client is withholding information and sometimes the responses don’t align.  If we are not listening carefully, we can get lost in the quicksand.
  4. Actively listen, take notes and avoid distractions.  Let’s face it—sometimes life happens, and we are not 100% present or even being distracted for one minute, can cause the conversation to head straight to the quicksand. By taking notes, it will keep you in the conversation the entire time.
  5. The client needs to be doing 80% of the talking.  If you are leading the session or talking more than the client—you are headed—you know where.  The key is to ask questions.  Check out our next blog on Key Questions to Ask to keep your sessions productive. There may be times you will share more information and this is when you are specializing in a certain niche. If you are an expert, you may be able to lend some real life examples and direction. Need to explore your niche? Try our Free Niche Workshop.

Now it’s time to remember your training, your experience and your passion for helping others. Getting out of a coaching quicksand conversation can be just as easy as getting into one. We know you can do it!

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