Silence is a beautiful thing. Silence provides us with a break from all the buzz. It affords us some breathing space. It can be a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the day-to-day. As coaches, it can be one of the most powerful coaching tools in our coaching toolbox.
You may have already noticed or experienced this, but when there’s silence there’s a natural urge to fill it. In the coaching conversation, when you use silence you give the other person the time and the space to reflect before responding. Think about it, you have asked that jewel of a question, a real eye-opener, what better way to highlight that question then to go silent?
One of the first things I did after completing my Certificate in Executive Coaching (CEC) from Royal Roads University was hire one of the best coaches that I could find. In my case, this wasn’t a particularly difficult task as I had been exposed to so many amazing coaches.
I realize that I was very lucky, finding a great coach can be difficult for those people that do not have the same level of exposure to the coaching world that I had. I did a quick Google search to see what information would be available to people interested in hiring a coach – there is an incredibly overwhelming amount of information out there! No wonder people are intimidated by the prospect of searching for a coach.
We at Coaching Out of the Box® are absolutely passionate about everyone developing coaching skills. Whether you are going to use them in your work, life or as a full-time coach the critical component is that you must use them. Reading all the materials on coaching, listening to others coach, attending workshops and conferences are great and wonderful but it just does not cut it unless you are actually coaching in real time, with real people and with real challenges.
Over the years as a coaching educator I have listened to some of the most intelligent and well-educated people eloquently describe what coaching is but when it came to successfully coaching someone there was a huge gap. They had the concepts, etc. in their head but had not integrated them into successful coaching. That is why the smartest strategy for dramatically growing your coaching skills is to coach whenever and as often as you can, here are 3 key strategies to do just that:
Having coached many people over the past 15 years, I’ve witnessed my fair share of human struggle. I’ve had the honor of walking with many as they navigate their way through life’s challenges – the good, the bad and the ugly. As a result of these many experiences I’ve had with my clients, I have come to the conclusion that, while painful, confusing and downright frightening some of these challenges can be, they force us into consciousness of our strength and potential. They are the things that truly let us know who we are and what we are capable of. But how do we coach someone who is tormented by worry, heartbreak or total confusion into seeing it as a growth and learning opportunity? Here is a bit of a checklist to help coach someone from tormented to enlightened.
This means the coach has to be patient and have the ability to sit in the discomfort of it all with their coachee without pushing for solution and resolution. Just being with someone as a calm, still presence can be the most helpful thing you can do to help them move forward. Listening with just silence and nods can be a gift beyond measure when someone is in a state of confusion or fear. It’s important that the coach holds, within themselves, the belief that there is a way out, around, over or through all this and that the coachee will find their way to it when the time is right.
Think about what we do as coaches: We listen. We ask questions. We clarify. We reflect the essence of what we hear/observe so that a client can see themselves. And then assist in moving to desired results. What we do is truly brilliant and helpful work. One of the most powerful aspects of coaching that catalyzes significant change is when the coach challenges the coachee. As the coach develops their skill and gains more experience, how they challenge their coachees becomes more sophisticated and indelible. The seasoned coach is willing to go farther out on a limb and ask for big things and risks strong push back from the coachee. The payoff? Shifts happen!
So, as coaches, what are we challenging and how do we do it? Most of the time, the bigchallenges come in the form of very powerful questions. Questions that challenge what’s been said or what isn’t being said, but implied in the coachee’s language and attitude. Another way coaches challenge is to make big requests. The bigger and hairier, the better! The more outrageous, the more powerful they are! Giving the coachee the option to accept, reject or negotiate a request means START BIG! Challenge them to rise into their most audacious self!