Coaching Practice and Techniques
The ICF developed eleven core competencies to inform the coaching session, present greater appreciation of the skills requiredand encourage client’s increased awareness and clarity. Divided into four groups, they offer a process that aids the session’s flow toward creating awareness for the client; the most crucial core compentencysets up.
The first group configures and prepares the session foundation, adhering to ethics and establishing a coaching agreement. The second group covers co-creating the coach/client relationship, which is flexible, open and based upon trust and intimacy. The third group tackles effective communication. Here the coach remains completely focussed on the client’s needs, without being judgemental, without allowing the client’s story to distract. The final group considers the most crucial element; creating awareness. It also details the development of an action plan and how to take this forward. Adherence to these core skills is required by the code of ethics, under which all ICF coaches, and indeed all professional coaches, should operate.
Developing client awareness is a crucial aspect of coaching; from this, the goals and actions form. Client awareness is encouraged through active listening, powerful questioning and direct communication. The coach allows the client better clarity by summarizing and reframing the client’s words back; thus acting like a mirror for the client to hear what was said.
Emphatic listening is a more than being attentive; it is about hearing, observing and understanding the client’s words and body language, thus being inside the frame of reference of the client; fully understanding the client and the context. To achieve this, the coach must be fully present and focus on attending to the client, through indicators of trust. We convey four times as much information through non-verbal means compared to speaking; it is a hugely important aspect of any successful coaching session.
To move toward a state of clarity and awareness for the client, the coach can use simple, yet powerful questions, which prompt the client to look deeply into the issue at hand. The most powerful questions are possible when there is a real connection, energy between coach and client. A powerful question will unlock crucial and important information that the coach needs to listen to very carefully.
There are several ways that a coach can demonstrate to a client attentive and active listening. Repeating back, paraphrasing or summarizing will demonstrate the coach has listened; mirroring body language and tone will show the coach has understood. Allowing the client’s silence to grow and asking permission to continue the session at moments of high emotion demonstrates respect.