Competency 7: Evokes Awareness is found in the ICF Competencies under Part C: Communicates Effectively. ICF defines this competency as “Facilitates client insight and learning by using tools and techniques such as powerful questioning, silence, metaphor or analogy.” This article will address markers 5-7:
5. Invites the client to share more about their experience in the moment
6. Notices what is working to enhance client progress
7. Adjusts the coaching approach in response to the client’s needs
Coaching focuses predominantly on what clients can learn through the process. One way that we can enhance the client’s learning is to ask them to reflect on what’s happening for them in the moment as they are discussing their topic. It may seem redundant after the client has talked through things and even mentioned new things they discovered to ask them what they are learning or experiencing through the conversation. However, don’t discount the power of creating the moments for reflection. Most people don’t recognize what they have discovered in the process until they specifically focus on articulating it. During the conversation, the client is focused on figuring things out and they come up with lots of ideas. However, they aren’t focused on what they are learning. They are simply focused on working out their issue. Another reason to ask about what the client is experiencing and learning in the moment is that when they articulate their learnings they are saying and hearing them. So, the learnings are more likely to settle in and become permanent. By asking the client what’s happening in their bodies or emotions as they discuss issues, the client can gain new information they didn’t realize was available.
Much of the work coaches do is a mix of intuition and skill. Therefore, it’s important that we pay close attention to what seems to be working for the client both in the moment and over time so that we can adjust our interventions accordingly. Every client is different. So, different ways of working will resonate with each client. For some clients, working with metaphors can be powerful and for others they just fall flat. For some clients strong challenge works and for others empathy and support are better. The key is to pay attention and learn what is working for each person. And, be open to the fact that during a given session, something that usually doesn’t resonate might be exactly what they need to move forward. So, experiment. Try things. And pay attention to how the client is reacting. Their response will show you what to do.