There are three principles which I consider fundamental to coaching.
Principle One: Suspend Judgment
As a human being, you will have judgments about your clients and what they should do. To coach your clients correctly, you must coach them from where they are now, not from where you are at. Get your judgments out of the way and be present mentally with your client. Examples of when to suspend judgment:
• Client has an alternative lifestyle
• Client has different spiritual beliefs
• Client has an open marriage
• Client has a criminal record
During the initial trial session, if you feel for any reason you would not be a good coach for the client, refer them to another coach. As a coach, we must be aware of our own judgments. If we cannot put them aside, then we should not coach the client.
As a coach how would you handle this situation? A client is considering getting a part-time job to make extra money for a backpacking trip she wants to take with her two life partners, Bob and Cindy, through Europe. She is considering several ideas. Her ideas include working as an exotic dancer, bar tending, or being a telephone psychic. All of which she did while attending college. What would you do to move beyond your judgments in order to coach the client in making a decision on what to do for a part-time job?
Principle Two: Focus on the future
People love their stories! We love our past, our reasons and our complexities; perhaps because it validates who we think we are. As a coach, however, we’re not interested in 90 percent of the past. We are not as concerned as to why a client spends five years in an unhappy marriage; or in the list of past complaints about the people in their life. As a coach, we are grounded in the present with a focus on the future. A coach is interested in what the client wants to create in their life now, the changes they are willing to make, and how they will go about doing that from now on. Coaching is a conversation about the future, rather than the past. If a client is stuck in the past, coaching may not be what they need at this time. Our job as a coach is to work together with the client towards a compelling future which pulls them both forward into action.
Principle Three: Action oriented
It is true that people receive value from increasing awareness and gain insight about their life. There are probably coaches who help their clients gain clarity during a session. Then leave it to the client to decide what – if anything – they will do before the next session. However, a generally accepted principle of coaching is about being in action. Without action, results do not occur; and many of your clients will be seeking results. Action provides the opportunity for new experiences. Without action no new insights, awareness, or change can occur. It’s been said, “If the client is not left in action, coaching did not occur.” A strong statement but I agree.