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The Role of “Matching” and “Mirroring” in Coaching

Creating rapport in a coaching relationship is absolutely essential for the success of the whole process. In most cases coaches are very natural in creating rapport and are able to establish it without too much effort. However, when establishing a strong rapport doesn’t happen quickly enough, the method of “matching and mirroring” can be used.

When using matching and mirroring, we are working on a non-verbal level. We can match and mirror:

  1. The body language of our client. Here it is important to stress that matching and mirroring should be done with utmost subtlety, rather than mimicking the other person. The idea is to make small adjustments to your posture or stance until you either match (do exactly the same) or mirror (do a mirror image) of your client. When after a while you change your posture and your client follows you, that means you have entered the “leading” phase and the rapport has been successfully established.

  2. The gestures of your client. If you work with someone who uses very expressive gestures, you could match those with similar but smaller gestures of your own. Again, subtlety is very important. To match and mirror, you can follow the same process as in number 1 above.

  3. The breathing rate of your client. This is an extremely effective way of building rapport at a deeper level but requires a certain level of experience. Follow the same steps as described earlier.

As a preparation tool, it is always helpful to observe and mirror facial expressions. When someone smiles at you, it is a natural instinct to smile back. Once you have established rapport and have reached the “leading phase” of the process, you can “lead” your clients into a “smiling state”. You can let them follow you into sitting upright, being relaxed and smiling and this should immediately get them into a more relaxed and optimistic state of mind.

As you can see, by using the matching and mirroring process, not only will you establish your rapport reasonably fast, you will also help your client to get into a more resourceful and open state, thus work more effectively.

Natalie Ekberg is an international personal and executive coach and offers self-improving, motivational and coaching e-courses and e-books as well as face to face or telephone coaching.

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The Use of Anchors in Coaching

Anchoring is a powerful technique, known mostly from its use within NLP.

However, because it is an extremely powerful tool, its use in coaching is highly recommended.

When using the anchoring method, we ask the client to recall a specific situation in the past where he used a certain feeling he is seeking to use now or in the future.

Let’s say the client wants to feel confident or powerful. We ask him to recall and describe the situation in the past where he felt confident or powerful. Then we invite the client to select an anchor and associate those feelings with this particular anchor. By “anchor” we mean a physical act. It can be clenching a fist, squeezing a knuckle, touching a ring, pressing two fingers together, etc.

We repeat this exercise a couple of times, until the clients feel confident that by repeating the physical act from the exercise (firing their anchor), they can bring their required feelings back whenever needed. The motion of firing the anchor releases their positive energy from the previous experience and carry it over to the experience they are about to face.

This method can be used in a more simplistic form. When the clients talk about their previous strong experiences, their energy is usually so high, that if we simply ask them to hold on to the energy and bring it forward to the anticipated and feared event, they can do it without any effort.

From my experience, 9 out of 10 clients will be able to do this and it is sufficient for their success in the new situation. Once they try a re-run of the new situation with “transferred old energy” they are positive they can handle new situation easily.

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Creating of Inner Space for Coaches

As any coach will confirm, being able to create an inner space for themselves is paramount to being able to be fully present and supportive of the client during a coaching session. Creating inner space helps to eradicate and separate any personal opinions, experience, moods and thoughts of the coach from the coaching process.

Achieving this is not always easy, especially if coaches’ life is busy and he/she gets pre-occupied with his/her own worries or stress. If we are feeling depressed, we tend to concentrate on the negative parts of the conversation, whereas if we feel more optimistic, we tend to pick out only the positives, even though this was not the most important message the client was trying to convey.

Furthermore, coaching is an intimate process and as such can easily reveal the inner state of the coach, thus a regular routine of setting aside time for creating an inner space and peace is one of the most important routines a coach should have. How to achieve that?

I personally developed a routine of preparing for my sessions 10 minutes before they are about to start. I read the notes from my previous sessions with that particular client and that gets me in the right mode for his/her particular needs. By concentrating on my notes I am already shifting my focus toward my client and away from my own mind. Then I prepare my notebook, pen and while waiting for the client I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths. By the time my client calls or walks through the door I am fully ready to fully concentrate on the session ahead. This routine is simple, short and effective.

For some coaches, a quick walk outside or a quick meditation can do the trick.

Irrespective of which method we choose, by clearing our own mind we allow ourselves clearly to focus on our client. On top of it, by being present and in peace we help to create the same frame of mind for our client, which provides a good foundation for our session to be highly effective.

Natalie Ekberg is an international personal and executive coach and offers self-improving, motivational and coaching e-courses and e-books as well as face to face or telephone coaching.

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3 Ways of Using Intuition in Coaching

As coaches, we are required to be able to listen to our clients on “listening level 3”, or the “global listening” level. Listening on this level is recognized and mastered by relatively few, because it involves listening to any outside stimuli, feeling emotion, sensing signals but above all it includes using our intuition.

There are many coaches who flatly refuse to “listen” to anything that is not factual and thus can be proven. However, being able to tune into your intuition and listen to it carefully can help not only your work as a coach but primarily your client, who, let’s face it, should be of your prime interest.

The ideal situation would be a combination between level 2 listening, when we listen attentively to whatever the client is saying, and a global listening, when we allow our intuition to “translate” the information the client has given us or add to it. How? Let me explain.

If we use our intuition carefully and allow ourselves to trust it, it can point out a few things to us. Is the client telling the truth? Is he/she not revealing certain facts that might be helpful? Was there a hint of a certain feeling when talking about a certain person? That’s the benefit of intuition when we are on the receiving end of the information.

At the same time, we might use intuition when we are the one who talks and asks question. Is it a good time now to be stricter and require some solid plan from the client? Or, do we need, on the contrary, to slow down, because we are losing the client’s attention? Do we ask an open question and let the client talk or would the closed questions and some very direct answers be more appropriate?

The third situation where intuition can be helpful is to control the “pulse” of the overall relationship with your client. Do you feel the level of rapport is dropping? Is he/she becoming too dependent on your sessions? Can you sense that there is not the same enjoyment on the client’s side as there used to be?

As you can see, your intuition is your ally. Allow it into your life, listen to it carefully and you will become an even more powerful coach than you already are.

Natalie Ekberg is an international personal and executive coach and offers self-improving, motivational and coaching e-courses and e-books as well as face to face or telephone coaching.

Sokol - September 6th, 2012
move into the “fullness of life” which Jesus offers. Note: Scroll to last item in this arictle. Top Ten Things You Would Never Hear a Coach Say March 5, 2009, By Angie Coaching is about the client and NOT about the coach, usually. Sometimes a

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The Importance of Self-Management for Coaches

As coaches, we understand that the focus of the coach-coachee relationship is always on clients. However, we are also human beings and there are times when being “neutral” and “holding back’ can become too difficult.

Situations like that include:

  • Something in your client’s story triggers your own memory and your mind drifts away, meaning you are not fully present.

  • Client gets emotional about a certain subject (e.g. the loss of a family member) and it has an emotional impact on you, too.

  • You have been working on the same issue with the client for a very long time and you are getting bored or frustrated.

  • Your own Gremlin is playing tricks with you and you don’t believe you are any good at coaching.

  • In most of the cases it can be simpler: you are not having a good day or you are tired.

In situations like that, the most important step is to be honest and acknowledge what is happening. Depending on the seriousness of the issue, it is up to the coach to decide the following step. One option is to share your feelings with the client, after you have asked for his agreement, of course. Another option is to excuse yourself for a minute, walk out of the room (get off the phone) and re-gain your resourceful state. In the worst scenario, you might ask to postpone the session for another time and carry the cost.

These recommendations might seem extreme but it is far more important for you as a professional to provide a 100% service to your client and be fully present than getting (for whatever reason) out of that state and putting your reputation at risk.

If, however you decide to continue with the session without any interruption, make sure you have suppressed your feelings immediately. Shift them aside for the moment and direct your attention to the client. Make sure you address your feelings later, because they were sending you a message which you should not ignore. This “shifting” might not be easy in the beginning but over time and some practice it will become much smoother.

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When is the “requesting” allowed in a coaching relationship?

As coaches we understand that the client is the one who is supposed to come with his own “action plan” and decide which steps he wants to follow in order to reach his goal.

However, there are occasions when the whole process could be accelerated by the coach stating a request as oppose to just asking the client for recommended way forward. When is the right time for using this method?

There are situations when the client sees and understands the obvious; however, is reluctant to say it loud for the fear of the commitment required. When the obvious is stated for him by someone else, he is usually quite ready to agree and commit. This situation requires a good relationship between the coach and the coachee as well as a deep knowledge of the client by his coach.

Other possibility includes providing the “assignment” at the end of the coaching session and a request to check it out before the beginning of the next session. From my experience the clients react very positively to their assignments, because they allow them to reflect further on what was being discussed during the previous coaching session. After doing the assignment, they often come with many more ideas or possible solutions and are better prepared for the next session.

The third option is the situation when it becomes clear that the client has difficulties dealing with his gremlin. The sharp request from the coach cuts the client away from his goblin (at least for the time being) and allows him to contemplate a solution that was not obvious to him, due to his pre-occupation with the goblin. Again, good knowledge and understanding of the client are required.

Having said all of the above, client should never be forced into accepting the coach’s request. If the coaching relationship has been going for a while, the client is likely to accept and appreciate the request. He can sometimes make a counteroffer, if that feels better for him. Of course, at any time, he has the right to decline the request.

It is very important that coach does not get attached to his request and not take it personally if the client decides to decline it.

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The Importance of Knowing Their Own Values for Coaches

Us, coaches, we understand the importance of values and their identification for our clients. The question is, do we understand their importance for us?

Knowing their own values is extremely important for each and every coach. Our values or “personal rules” by which we choose to live influence our emotions and behaviors and have an enormous impact on what we do and what we say. They embody what we believe is important in every area of our lives. We have values that can be specific for different situations and govern what response we make to external stimulus in these areas.

Dealing with a client is one of those external stimuli. If we have a situation when our personal values clash with those of our clients, we have to be extremely aware of it and proceed with caution. It is our utmost responsibility to NOT show any of our feelings about certain behaviors or opinions of our client.

We have to remember that the values that we hold are true values for us but this does not mean that what is important to us will be equally important to other people, especially our clients. Our clients may hold a different set of values and respecting this is fundamental to coaching.

What do we do in situations like this? it is very possible, that in the instances when the values of our client are fundamentally different from our values, it can make us feel uncomfortable. In very extreme cases I would recommend to refer the client to a different coach, because working together would probably not be very productive. If, however, the differences are smaller, we just have to remember rule number one, which is that the coaching process is about the client and not about the coach. Another possibility is to repeat the value elicitation exercise on a regular basis; sometimes the clients’ values develop and change as a result of the coaching process.

The good news is, from my experience, when there is a good rapport between the client and the coach from the very beginning, these extreme situations do not appear but still, it is helpful to have a set of rules if they do.

Natalie Ekberg is an international personal and executive coach and offers self-improving, motivational and coaching e-courses and e-books as well as face to face or telephone coaching.

Alex - September 8th, 2012
Once you have talked to a diitetian, you won't need such a book but I guess you can have it if you really want.The ADA has quit a collection. Check with them.They also a have a nice selection of books for kids who have diabetes.

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When and How to Use “Intruding” as a Coaching Skill

As coaches we understand that listening and questioning are the most important skills, however, there is more to coaching that asking questions and listening to the answers!

Intruding” is a skill that doesn’t come easily to even the most experienced coaches. We often feel that the client deserves to tell his story uninterrupted. However, there are times when to get to the “real core” of the story/problem/issue, we need to interrupt him/her and use the skill of “intruding”.

Intruding” indeed is a skill, for using it at the right time and asking the right question is very important. We need to use our intuition to recognize the right moment. Needless to say, to be able to do that, we need to listen on Level 3 listening consistently.

The role of “intruding” is to re-direct the conversation back to the main issue, in case the client starts veering away. If he/she does that, it can mean many things. For example: they don’t want to talk about the unpleasant parts of the story, they want to avoid the truth or they like listening to themselves and want to cover all the unimportant details. Those types of clients are usually the same clients who, if not brought back on track swiftly, will complain that coaching goes nowhere and is not helpful at all!

Therefore, do not believe that “intruding” is rude! It is your responsibility as coach to make sure the client is not allowed to get lost in his own details and that you steer the session towards tangible results.

The best way to ensure that client is aware of what you are doing is to introduce “intruding” as an option before the beginning of the session and explain the reasons for using it. Client needs to understand that coaching is different from having a simple conversation with a friend! After getting the clients’ approval, make sure to use the skill of “intruding” appropriately and only when needed. When overdone, it doesn’t help neither client, nor you and most of all the successful coaching process.

Nataly - September 6th, 2012
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pharmacy technician - November 16th, 2010
Wow this is a great resource.. I’m enjoying it.. good article

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The Importance of Accountability in the Coaching Process

For me personally, the accountability part of the coaching process is extremely important. For many people this is the only reason they actually hire a coach. They need that “someone” who will hold them accountable for the actions they promised to carry out. I had clients who would rather cancel a session than admit they didn’t follow up on their own action plan! On the other hand, I had plenty of those clients who, due to the accountability part of the coaching process achieved their results fast and remarkably well.

Accountability is a strong word and for many it can have the ramifications of forced school projects or unwanted after school activities. However, in the coaching context, accountability is holding clients responsible for their own agenda, supporting their own decisions and following up on their own desires.

Accountability in coaching serves more like a genuine and constructive feedback: what worked well and what did not, how to do things differently and better next time and overall, what were clients’ feelings while performing all those tasks. During the process, the coach is there to support his/her clients but also to make sure that clients grow as individuals and push their own boundaries.

The process is not always easy and straight forward for many coaches. They struggle to use the accountability. They let their clients move through the process without holding them accountable, because they feel that their aura of being a “genuinely nice person” would be damaged.

The opposite is the truth. By not holding your clients accountable you are doing them disservice and you are not doing the coaching process/industry justice. Accountability can often be the very single most important process that will decide whether the whole coaching process was successful or not. Of course, it can’t be said about each and every client but in my experience, it really makes a huge difference.

If you are a coach, please take this as a gentle reminder to do a little check up on whether you are using the tool of accountability as effectively as it deserves.

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The Importance of Focusing on “Current Emotions” in Coaching

When clients come to coaching, they usually want to achieve something and they want to achieve it fast. They are full of ideas, goals, resolutions and desires. They are fired up to go, go, go. The problem is, for all the action they want to take they forget to look at what “state” they are actually in. In another words, for all the “doing” they forget about their “being”. It is the responsibility of the coach to spot that and point the fact to his/her client. What do I mean by that?

Quite often clients get so engrossed in their future and what they want from it, that they forget about their current situation. The coach should understand though that the current situation needs to be dealt with in order to “clear” all those blocks that might prevent the future success from happening.

The trouble is, even coaches sometimes get so carried away with the forward action that they forget to stop the clients and let them just be in the now and describe their feelings. Are their future actions truly in line with what they want? Do their goals inspire them or do they just “sound right”? How do the clients feel right now, when they talk about their future? Excited or overwhelmed? Optimistic or scared? These are the questions that need to be asked, so that the clients can understand the importance of paying the attention to their current “being”.

Needless to say, this sort of “stopping action” requires a high level of rapport between the coach and the client and extremely well developed listening skills of the coach.

In order to understand the clients on a deeper level, it is helpful to mirror their emotional stage right from the beginning of the coaching session. If the client turns up and is rather pensive, a high energy approach of the coach might not be the best for the given situation. Similarly, if the client feels energetic and optimistic, going with a reflective type of session will not be the best, either.

A good way forward is to acknowledge that current emotional state of the clients is equally important as their future direction; mirror that state and work with it, rather than around it. When clients are ready to move towards more action, do so but remember that bringing them back to just “being” as oppose to “doing” has its advantages, too.

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