As I’m sure you could have guessed, I’m a firm believer in the power of coaching. It has the ability to transform any situation or problem, provide clarity in the midst of uncertainty, and lead the coachee to greater individual accomplishment and satisfaction.
A bold claim, right?
The International Coaching Federation (the major coaching accrediting body) shares some of the findings from those who have received the benefit of using a professional coach:
Coaching works. Professional coaches offer a great service and time and time again the investment in coaching has shown to be worth the monetary commitment.
Coaching works, and to look at not only the growth of the coaching industry in the last decade, but the proliferation of particular coaching niches shows that people find in helpful in every area of life.
And coaching doesn’t have to be complicated. At it’s core, it’s about asking thought provoking questions, attentively listening to what’s being said (and sometimes what isn’t), and helping the person you’re talking to feel empowered and take action.
When I was a part of my coaches training program, we did exercises that accomplished this in ten minutes.
So coaching works, and it doesn’t take a lot of time. Great! But you may be asking, “What can I do with this information?”
Today, I’m giving you 5 ways to use coaching in everyday life. You don’t have to be a professional coach to get (and give) the benefits of coaching. In your regular interactions with the people you see everyday, you can help inspire and change someone’s life.
In our hurried and rushed culture, we tend to not ask very many questions. The ones that we do are often insincere. Think about it. How many times today have you asked someone, “How are you?” without even stopping for a response or expecting something other than ‘fine.’ We’re so accustomed to rushing through formalities quickly that we often leave valuable chances to encourage someone unsaid.
Asking real, insightful, and authentic questions about someone promotes goodwill, encourages them, communicates value, and brings joy.
Need some examples?
I’m a big proponent of coaching our children. This relates somewhat to the point above, but adds to it. Many times, when our children do something wrong, the first thing out of our mouth is, “Why would you do that!?!” ‘Why’ questions tend to promote defensiveness. They now need to justify themselves. Instead, you can ask questions that get the same answer, without escalating the situation and forcing them into a corner.
My wife and I have seen the results of this many times. A rather recent (and humorous) example, our three year old son whacked his one year old sister in the face with some string cheese. She cried, he became scared. We could have easily gotten angry and said, “WHY would you do that?” That triggers him to become angry and defensive. Instead, we said, “What were you trying to accomplish?” It turns out, he was trying to be funny. It actually was (because there’s quite nothing like trying to say, “We don’t hit people in the face with string cheese” with a straight face.) He didn’t need to become defensive, he felt heard and respected, and we were able to talk through the situation. We were thrilled that he’s trying to be funny, but we need to learn appropriate humor.
While in seminary, I set a semester goal to develop the spiritual discipline of small talk. As an introvert, small talk is hard. I even remember growing frustrated by it on multiple occasions. Often times, it was while I was standing in line and the bank. Each teller would engage in small talk with the person they were helping. All I needed was fifteen seconds to deposit a check. I had my I.D. out and the check signed, just let me cut to the front and I’ll be out of here!
But eventually I realized that it was my perspective that needed to change, not theirs. So I set out to develop the discipline of small talk. It greatly improved my mood (I actually started to look forward to it!) but it also communicates value to those that are often paid to help us. It works not just in the bank, but in the grocery store line, at the pharmacy, or at the fast food drive though. Communicate interest, genuine appreciation, and gratitude for the work that someone else is doing on our behalf is an everyday practical coaching exercise.
In my marriage coaching work, this is one I use frequently. Typically, the formal exercise looks like this:
Inevitably, two things happen. 1.) You understand your spouses view better and 2) you’ve heard them more thoroughly than you ever have before. More often than not, your partner feels valued and you find a way to resolve the situation without fighting about it again. Later, after our coaching session, couples will talk about it, and both feeling valued and understood are more inclined to listen. Listening leads to understanding. I even had one couple practice this exercise. Their feedback? We’ve fought about that stupid thing for a decade, but now we understand each other better and solved it.
We’ve been ingrained to always think what’s next? Three days into your senior year of high school, people are already asking where you’re going to college. (You do have that figured out by now, don’t you)? Then, you arrive on college campus and people want to know what you’re major is. Then you need to know what your five year plan is. Professional Goals. Promotions. Family. When you’re finally going to take that backpacking trip through Europe.
In the end, many of us feel frustrated and alone because we always have to have a plan. We always need to be able to answer the question what’s next?
Instead, celebrate a win with someone. Ask a question like, “What are you celebrating today?” Or, “Where have you experience victory?” Then, instead of asking, “Great! What’s next?” simply be with them and celebrate. It doesn’t have to be big, elaborate, or expensive. It can be as simple as providing an encouraging word or a compliment. It can last a few seconds or the entire day.
Don’t be too quick to run into the what’s next category. Instead, celebrate the accomplishment they just achieved. It will validate their progress and provide them with even greater joy that someone stopped and cared long enough to be present with them.
That it! Those are five ways to use coaching in everyday experiences? How have you (or will you) commit to using these? Where have you seen the benefit? Chime in below and add to the conversation!