I always say that learning how to coach is not something you do, it’s someone you become. A common misperception in the coaching industry is that a coach is going to give you really great advice on how to live your life. That could not be further from the truth. A coach is trained to hold pure and sacred space for another’s deepest wisdom and truth to arrive in conversation. Because after all, that is the most transformative kind of advice there is, the one that comes from within.
Here are two of the most important coaching skills that you can begin implementing right away with those you love and serve:
The first is the ability to authentically listen. Our brains are wired to filter people’s words through our own past experience. This creates a lens on how we view and hear other people. Think about the last time that you confided in someone. Chances are they jumped to advice, or perhaps told you a story about a similar experience they had. While it can be helpful to hear someone else’s perspective or feel that you aren’t alone in your experience, it’s not always the most effective or honoring way to be of service.
We are each as unique as a thumbprint with different lived experiences, histories, cultural influences, perceptions, and views. A skilled coach will trust that, just like them, others have an internal wisdom within that is far more powerful than any advice they could give. They will use their authentic listening skills to draw that deeper knowing forward.
The second coaching skill is the art of asking powerful questions. Powerful questions are typically questions that a person cannot answer with a yes or no and typically start with why, how, what, or who. They are evocative in nature and require the person you are holding space for to go deeper within themselves to generate an answer. It invites them to move beyond their current paradigm of thinking and into new possibilities and perspectives.
For example: Do you have another option? Versus: What other options are there? The person could answer the first question with a simple yes or no, whereas the second question requires them to brainstorm and explore all their possible options forward.
Holding space for another requires you to drop your agenda or attachment to a particular outcome, and instead, hold them as whole, capable, resourceful, and creative. All of their answers, wisdom, higher perspectives, and next best steps lie within, waiting to be unearthed and expressed. This is perhaps one of the greatest gifts you could give to those you love and serve, creating waves of change that will be felt for generations to come.