Getting your life coach certification? How to improve your coaching skills in 5 easy steps
So, you’ve just enrolled in a life coach certification program? Or perhaps you’re still thinking about switching to a new career. You’ve completed our quiz to assess your readiness to become a coach right now and, guess what, you’re excited to see that your passion and natural skills align with those that good coaches possess!
So, what is the next step for you? You have enrolled (or want to) in a good training program but you’re feeling anxious. What if you don’t succeed? Perhaps you’re also a little overwhelmed. Everything is a lot to take in and there seems to be so many good coaches around already? How will you succeed? Stand out? Learn the knowledge and skills to serve your clients well?
In that case, you’ll be happy to know that you can kickstart your journey and new career by following just a few easy steps. Imprint these in the back of your mind, put it on sticky notes next to your screen, and practice them during every conversation, whether online or in person. Before you know it, you’ll be ahead of the pack!
#1 – Listen, listen, listen!
The first step is to learn to listen. Really listen! With your full attention and presence. Be curious and interested to hear what your client is saying and show it. By listening attentively, you show the client that you care about them. That you acknowledge their strengths and challenges.
We are all primed to defend and promote ourselves. We love to share our own experiences and dispense advice, whether it is welcome and helpful or not. DON’T! Be quiet and mindful. Use silent spaces and short questions to encourage your client to talk and go deeper to the root of their issues.
Having a person listen to you without judging and with compassion is often the most powerful and unexpected experience your clients have with you. Embrace it. Nurture it. Be there, always!
#2 – Question
The listening partner of listening is questioning. In the beginning of your interaction, ask your client what they would like to discuss or need help with today. If they are not 100% specific or you are unclear of any details, ask them to elaborate. Continue questioning until you are both satisfied that you know and understand what the client needs and expects from the session. Then, you have a goal to direct you throughout the session so that you spend the time most effectively.
During the remaining time, ask questions either to broaden the scope or go deeper into details. With every question, be completely sure what it is that you want to achieve with it. Do you want to examine something further, help the client broaden their thinking, motivate them, assess their commitment, and so forth? Be clear in your mind of your intent with the question and that it will move the conversation toward the agreed outcome.
Moreover, keep your questions simple, brief, open-ended, and non-directive. Ask a single question at a time and wait for the response. Be present and keep the flow and you will be amazed at the openness of your client!
#3 – Observe the body
Look intently for signs in your client’s facial expressions, body movement and posture, tone of voice, and even the coloration of their skin. The body often gives us additional information that the client does not yet want to share or does not consciously know. The highly acclaimed expert in nonverbal communication, Professor Albert Mehrabian estimated that only seven percent of meaning is communicated through spoken words. An incredible 93% is conveyed through someone’s tone of voice and body language. So, always carefully observe the person you are talking with. It is almost like “feeling” and “listening” to find their hidden messages. With practice you will be able to uncover deeper information that you can explore further with questions.
#4 – It’s a dance!
Think of your interaction with your client as a dance. It’s elegant and beautiful. While you guide, you keep your client safe and allow them to perform the most gracious and challenging movements. They can allow themselves to feel vulnerable with you. You are there to encourage and protect them. To cheer them on when they fall. You are their mirror in which they see their excellence and their skills. With every turn and movement they see themselves getting better. It is a powerful experience to share. Make sure to nurture it, always!
#5 – Learn from the experts
Formal training is meant to increase your knowledge and practical skills of a professional application. If you are interested in coaching, the best tip we can give you today is to enroll in a credible coach training school. How do you know if a school is credible? Firstly, look at the industry associations they partnered with. In the coaching field, these will be established organizations like the International Coaching Federation (ICF), European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC), and the Association for Coaching (AC). Does the program offer a certification through any of these? Is the qualification aligned with becoming accredited as a coach? In other words, will the certification help you get your coaching accreditation?
Second, find current students and alumni of the coach training school online and ask their opinion. Most will be very happy to speak to you and give their honest opinion. In third place, get a feel for the school by following their social media and blog for a while. You’ll quickly discover if the “vibe” and depth of interaction is what appeals to you. And finally, if you still have questions, speak to an enrollment advisor at the coach training school who will be able to tell you everything you want to know.