If you consistently find yourself at a communication impasse with your clients, you may benefit from learning some basic coaching skills. The interactive aptitude required of any instructor is evident in many coaching core competencies, as listed on the International Coach Federation’s (ICF) Web site (www.coachfederation.org):
- Active listening is the ability to focus on what the client is saying/not saying, to understand its meaning in the context of the client’s desires and to support the client’s self-expression.
- Powerful questioning involves asking questions that reveal the information needed to maximize benefit to the coaching relationship and the client.
- Direct communication uses language that has the greatest positive impact.
- Creating awareness involves integrating and accurately evaluating multiple information sources, then making interpretations that lead to results. Designing Actions involves creating opportunities for ongoing learning and for new action steps that lead to agreed-on coaching results.
- Planning and goal setting involve developing and maintaining an effective coaching plan.
- Managing progress and accountability entail keeping attention on what is important and leaving action up to the client.
The following scenario illustrates how some of these competencies can be quickly adapted to one of your classes.
Scenario: Participant Needs Differ From Class Offering You have observed Jane coming to your high-energy fusion class weekly, for many years. You recently noticed that she appears frustrated and tired. You decide to initiate a conversation with her to identify if there is a problem.
Dana: How are you doing in class these days?
Jane: I feel physically and emotionally exhausted. My work is so complicated and I am very stressed. I find it difficult just to get through class. I have been coming for more than 4 years and I’ve enjoyed it. However, I find that lately my body feels just as stressed after the class as it did before. I used to feel refreshed after a good workout.
Dana: You appear to be experiencing a lot of changes and stress in your life. It sounds like you’re running from one situation to another. Are you getting much rest and relaxation?
Jane: No. My company is merging with another and we’re taking over all its accounts and integrating many of its employees, which leads to a lot of uncertainty. I’m not sleeping, and I don’t have any time to relax. I seem to be going so flat out that I don’t I have time to think, rest or even breathe.
Dana: Have you had a look at the class schedule lately? I know you have been coming to my class for 4 years. Let’s go over and look at it right now and see if there are other options for you.
Jane: I see what you’re getting at. Maybe taking some other classes will help. I’m so stuck in a groove of doing the same things week after week that I’ve never even looked at the schedule. There is a relaxation class after your class on Tuesdays and Thursdays. In fact, you’re actually teaching that class.
Dana: I am. Do you feel you might benefit from a relaxation class?
Jane: I’m always rushing to get to the 6:15 pm class. If I come for the 7:15 pm relaxation class, then I would not have to rush. I want to start your relaxation class on Thursday.
Dana noticed that something was amiss with one of her regular students. She asked powerful questions about Jane’s problem. With direct communication Jane was able to recognize that she needed to make some changes, but she had been so weary that she had not taken time to assess her situation. Once Dana asked strategic questions, Jane developed the insight she needed. She could then set attainable goals and move toward a positive solution.