The most important part of coaching is being present with each and every client. But there’s so much to the role of a professional coach that it can be easy to get swept away in your other responsibilities, goals, and duties. Here are a few steps you can take before and during each session to be fully present every time you’re face-to-face with a client.
Rapport Comes First
Each time you meet with a client, whether it’s a new client or a longstanding one, start by noticing their being. This includes their tone of voice, posture, and any other notable physical indicators of their mindset. Do they seem agitated? Relaxed? Excited? Adjust your communication for the session based on what you’re seeing.
Remember, for coaches, your relationships with your clients are everything. Your clients can tell if you’re not truly there, hearing and listening.
Don’t Be Too Quick to “Get Them”
It’s tempting to present yourself as a true client guru by jumping to immediately understand every issue your client brings up the first time they say it. But that can lead to miscommunications and, sometimes, completely missing what they were trying to tell you.
Instead, show you care and are really listening to them by asking clarifying questions. Don’t be afraid to even ask something like, “Let’s make sure I’m hearing you right. This is what I’m hearing you say. Are we on the same page?” That sends the message that you’re listening intently and are fully engaged.
Brainstorm With the Client
Creatively brainstorming solutions is an excellent client exercise. Instead of treating the times when the client is stuck like a hierarchical meeting where you jump in with solutions, you and the client are finding the answers together. This opens the pathways of communication so the client can troubleshoot your suggestions and help you both fine-tune an action plan that will really fit their needs.
Non-Verbal Listening Cues
These might feel obvious, but when you’re meeting with a client, there can be so much flowing through your head that it’s easy to forget to make sure you look like you’re listening to them. Remember, meeting with a client is just a one-on-one conversation with another person. All the same active listening rules apply:
- Maintain meaningful eye contact.
- React to what the client is saying. Smile when they mention positive developments and sympathize when they voice their struggles. Your facial expression will encourage or discourage them from delving deeper into any issues they’re facing.
- Maintain open body language to show you’re engaged.
- Nod or tilt your head to show you’re listening.
Allow For Silence
Often, when a client pauses for a moment, it’s because they’re mulling a topic over, not waiting for you to talk. Let there be silence and gaps in the conversation. It gives you both time to breathe and think. And sometimes, that’s when the best solutions pop up.
When you focus on being fully present with your clients, that’s when the magic will really start to happen.