When you have a new client, the first thing you want to know is why they’re seeking your help. What is their “problem”? The answer to this question establishes the foundation for your life coaching sessions with this person. Naturally, you want to make sure you get a complete answer… and this sometimes involves reading between the lines.
Often, a person will come to a life coach with a nagging external issue. This is something that is perceived to be beyond the power of the individual to control. For example, “I need to make more money,” or “I’m late all the time – I need to be more organized”. These are external problems that result from the client’s own actions. As coaches, however, must assume they can’t see that consciously, although they internally know something’s not right. The client’s expectation is that you can help them get the results they want (i.e. the ability to make more money). After all, this is why they came to you!
What you help them discover is the internal process that relates to their actions. There is something within this client’s personal life that is affecting their actions, and ultimately their results, in an undesirable way. This could be their limiting beliefs or assumptions, patterns of thinking, values, and even relationships.
The way to do this is very much like the Interview process that Dr. Craig uses in the Logical Soul® method. It’s the first step in every session, and it’s one of the most important. You must ask questions. Keep an open mind while maintaining focus on your client’s issue, and allow the client to give you the answers.
Let’s use the “I need to make more money” issue as an example.
Here are some questions you could ask:
- Why do you think you don’t have more money right now?
- What have you tried to do to make more money?
- Do you feel you deserve money? Can you accept it?
- How did your parents handle money?
These kinds of questions reveal the internal thinking behind money and the client’s ability to make money. The answers your client gives often reveal many hidden decisions and assumptions about money that may very likely be a part of their current issue.
Only until you ask these kinds of questions and truly listen to the answers can you get a full picture of the problem. Without a clearly defined problem and clearly defined goal, your life coaching sessions will end up ineffective at best.
Whenever I experience the interview process as a client, I come from a space that feels the answers are inside of me, but I can’t them at the moment. I look to a coach to help shine the light of understanding on what I know I already feel is the solution.
Unfortunately, most of the people I went to for help over the years did not know how to interview properly. They did not ask what I felt were important questions – in fact, they seemed to avoid all but the vaguest of questions. When giving answers, I would find myself rambling and even going off on tangents that really had no bearing on the current issues. It made me feel completely left out of the “conversation,” and left me feeling that the person I was talking was incompetent.
I’ve since learned that many people – even including life coaches – are unable to initiate an effective conversation that allows valuable information to arise and reveal itself. Few, if any, knew how to provide the answers I was looking for in a way that allowed me to come up with my own solutions. This is sad. If they had only taken the time to ask the right questions – and gently guide me back to the core issue – I would have cherished their guidance. As it turned out, I looked for answers elsewhere.
Have you lost a client after one session? If so, ask for honest feedback from others about your ability to listen, the practice this valuable skill!
By learning how to do an effective interview and paying attention to where internal and external cues, you can get a bird’s eye view of what’s going on. You can also see the connections between thoughts and actions, as well as where things are going wrong. Once you identify the “error cycle” as Dr. Craig calls it, you can begin to correct it.
Never underestimate the power of a great interview! Open your heart and mind every time you speak with your client to understand their situation as completely as possible. By doing this you will uncover deeper and deeper layers of their motivation, allowing them to remove internal barriers, one by one.