Dana's My Coach

Find your game… play… repeat.

What I Learned About Coaching (and NOT Coaching)

I got more than I bargained for when I sat in on a coaching session with Dana of DanasMyCoach.com and a consenting coachee.  I wanted to see how Dana works and to observe as the proverbial fly on the wall.

I’ve heard it said in the coaching profession, “It’s more important what you DON’T do than what you do.” In other words, check your preconceptions and agenda at the door and be a clear reflection back to your client.

So I did all that.  Or so I thought.

After a few minutes of sitting there trying to be unobtrusive, Dana turned to me and asked “What are you thinking about?”
“Nothing!” I said. And I really didn’t think I was thinking about anything, but I checked myself anyway and took a deep breath. Dana went about her coaching session and I took notes as I had intended to do.

Afterwards, I took my leave. As I walked to the car, I realized my heart felt like I had had a good cry.  You know the feeling, kind of raw and open. This was completely unexpected. I was surprised, confused and very pleased all at the same time.

During the few days between the session and a review chat with Dana, I started feeling a profound love for the coachee.  I don’t have adequate words to explain it, just that a deep love appeared. When I was able to talk to Dana about my experience as the “fly,” she let me know that I had inadvertently put out pressure during her session which is why she stopped and asked me a question.  Fortunately, I managed to self-correct after that.  Whew!

Here’s some of what I learned about what not to do, and how to correct for the “Don’ts” of coaching:

1-Lecture or impose your agenda/beliefs on the coachee
2-“Lead the witness” – in other words, don’t try to get them to answer a question the way you want them to answer
3-Have expectations with your client or be disappointed in them.  If you have expectations, you have an agenda.  If you are disappointed, you have expectations.
4-Pity your client.  If you use pity, you believe your client’s view that they are small.
5-Give advice or think you’ve got “it” (the solution)

1-Let the client talk and free associate.  Give feedback for lights.  Let them connect to their own core beliefs.
2-Ask open ended questions. Follow curiosity.
3-Practice unconditional positive regard.  Whatever they do is okay.
4-Acknowledge. “That hurt you” or “Your eyes tearing up” gives a powerful message that you witness and validate how your client is feeling without attaching to a victim story.
5-Give scenarios or ask “What do you want” and “How could you do that?”

A great example of not giving advice during this session was the coachee was listing all the things that she thinks are wrong about her and what is bad about herself.  Dana didn’t agree or disagree, she just asked, “What do you want?”  And the coachee said, “I feel bad about doing nothing and I want to be more productive.” As Dana sat silently, not agreeing or disagreeing the client she eventually realized, “Actually, I AM being highly productive, it just FEELS like I’m not doing anything…and that’s really just what I want to continue to do.”

After a few more moments, the coachee toyed with it and said, “I can write a book titled “How to Do Nothing and Be Productive.” Now she had a project and was totally lit up about it.

Later, Dana and I also discussed this unusual love that appeared and the raw, opening heart thing. Apparently, when one coaches with this method of high attunement to the coachee, you cannot help but go through the process with your client.  You feel connection with your client on a deep level and you end up feeling as if you’ve gone on a journey together…or played a very intense game together.

I learned on a deeper level that it is truly what you don’t do as a coach that makes a huge difference in the coach and coachee’s experiences.  This “not doing” resulted in an unexpectedly profound connection and heart-opening with the coachee.

Now, I’m hooked.  This coaching thing…yea, I’m in!

By Kelly Kaelin, Guest Blogger and Rookie Coach

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