WHAT DOES A LIFE COACH DO?
When a life coach meets a client for the first time they must actively listen to the client to establish what their needs are.
To jump the gun and rattle off what you think their goals should be and how you think they can obtain them…is job suicide. You might as well say goodbye, walk out the door and think about another career!
A good life coach focuses on drawing information out of the client. To do this you need to approach the client in a non-threatening, relaxed manner and use concise open ended questions. Professionalism will gain trust - know your stuff! But don't use terminology that will not be familiar to the client. Treat the client like he/she is the only client you have. Nurture their responses, encourage elaboration, never sneer, laugh or make snide comments. Even if you’re joking…it can be misinterpreted. You need to extract information from the client in a non-direct and non-judgemental way.
Once you have the information, you need to set about analysing it together. Look at what you have and start to ask more specific questions. Find out what the client values i.e. family life, being fit, earning a decent salary etc. The next job is to translate his values into specific goals.
Encourage the client to come up with goals to solve the problem or fulfil the need. Put questions to them.
Get them to think about what they can do, what time they can dedicate to it and in what time frame they can achieve it. If, for instance, your client needs help with his/her business finances, you need to determine if s/he has the skills and time to maintain the book work; if s/he needs to do a course on bookkeeping or if it would be more economical to enlist the help of a bookkeeper.
An effective life coach listens intently to the client, prompts the client to assist in the analysis and planning of a strategy and keeps the client focused on the issues at all times. It is the client who needs to arrive at the areas of their life that they wish to alter. Once they have decided, the coach can then help them to draw up their targets.
Some areas in which a life coach may be asked to provide assistance and support are:
- interpersonal relations
- self-esteem and confidence
- development of physical well being
- public and professional image
- personal finances or business
- career development
- practical life skills, such as time management
Like the coach of elite athletes, the life coach is results oriented, and his or her main tasks are to help clients – recognise, overcome and then remove barriers to personal growth and development. Then to develop strategies for achieving goals that will enable the individual to develop his or her full potential. Again like the sports coach, the life coach will be required to accurately assess the client’s aptitudes, strengths, weaknesses, needs and goals in order to arrive at a programme that is specifically tailored to that individual.
Unlike a sports coach, however, life coaches may also have to manage a client’s reluctance, lack of motivation, inaccurate perceptions and other psychological barriers to effective self-management. Life coaching is primarily about helping clients develop the skills and attitudes that will enable them to manage themselves and their own lives.
People may contact a life coach for very different reasons: to help them make better financial or career decisions; to get them motivated; to help them overcome feelings of frustration, helplessness, or lack of confidence; to help them manage personal relationships or to help them develop practical life skills.
However, the reasons for contacting a life coach may not be the primary issues that are causing the client distress or dissatisfaction, and much of the life coach’s work will be to lead the client on a journey of self-discovery.
Like all inner journeys, life coaching must begin with the client’s present situation and the many internal and external influences upon it. Life coaching begins with working with the client to understand where the person is, emotionally, psychologically, physically, financially and interpersonally. Only after obtaining a more accurate, clear picture of the client’s present can both client and life coach identify elements in the client’s past that may be hindering growth in any particular area, and plan strategies for the client’s future that will encourage and nurture progress.
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