Preparing for coaching sessions: coachee

It’s easy to assume that a coaching client is ready for coaching, but as every experienced coach knows, that isn’t always the case. Some clients are there reluctantly, because they have been sent – so they may even arrive with an adversarial attitude towards the coach. Others may recognise the value of coaching in general terms, but have no clear idea of what specifically they want a coach to do for them. Yet others may simply not be in an appropriate mental state for coaching – they may be in the midst of a severe psychological trauma, or they may be so wrapped up in the urgency of doing that they are unable to step into the calmer world of reflection and being.

A lot can be deduced from simply observing the client as the introductions take place. Does their body language indicate that they are relaxed and open, or tense and suspicious? Does their verbal language suggest openness and reaching out to you, or reserved aloofness? Eagerness to learn or fear of being found out?

Experienced coaches often put a distinct “readiness for coaching” spin on the initial getting to know you conversation with the client. Here are some of the questions we use ourselves or have observed other coaches using to this end.

  • What do you expect coaching to do for you?
  • What fears or concerns do you have about the coaching process?
  • What previous experience have you had of being coached? What was positive and negative about it?
  • What is your energy level for coaching right now?
  • Where and how do you find time to think?
  • What does it feel like when you are able to be honest with yourself? Is that something that happens frequently?
  • How do you learn complex things?
  • How comfortable do you feel with the “constructive chaos” of creative thinking?
  • Do you want coaching to focus on the really big, scary issues or on everyday problems? How do you feel about moving from one to the other in the same conversation?
  • How much challenge can you honestly take? What would other people say?

© David Clutterbuck. All rights reserved

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