Center for Coaching Certification

Being a Respectful Coach

Being a Respectful Coach

By Cathy Liska

What does it mean to be respectful as a coach?  Respect includes respecting yourself and respecting others.  Respect means caring about how you take care of yourself and how you treat people.  Respect means being a true professional when working as a coach and that demonstrates caring about yourself with the proper coach training and caring about clients with the proper preparation.

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Apply the many elements covered during coach training to respect:

  • Learning and enhancing the 11 Core Competencies of a Coach is respectful because it enhances the quality of the services you provide.
  • Living the Coaching Code of Ethics demonstrates respect because as a professional service provider knowing and demonstrating the nuances of Ethics is essential.
  • Focusing on the client is respectful because it really is all about them.
  • Creating a safe space for the client to open up and talk is respecting the purpose of coaching.
  • Really listening is respecting the job of a coach.
  • Asking short, simple questions is respecting the client’s abilities, control, and choices.
  • Empowering the client to explore, consider different possibilities, identify possible challenges, discover alternatives, and choose independently is respectful because that is the service they are paying to receive.
  • Partnering with the client for accountability is respectful because it supports their success.
  • Affirming client progress and success plus asking them how they are acknowledging themselves is respectful because it builds confidence and motivation.

Ultimately, demonstrating respect as a coach means being a professional.  Being a professional means getting the appropriate training, learning and using the Code of Ethics, and skillfully applying the coaching competencies taught in coaching certification.

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What is Required to be a Coach?

What is Required to be a Coach?

By Pete Liska

Technically and legally, almost anyone can call themselves a coach.   Some individuals do call themselves coaches without having any coach training.  This is like asking someone to go see a doctor who hasn’t had any medical training.

What is really interesting is that sometimes people think a coach is like a mentor or a consultant – that they give advice.  The truth is a coach empowers a client to discover their own answer.  This takes skill.

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The International Coach Federation (ICF), defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”  A coach listens, asks questions, challenges and expands thinking, plus partners with the client to empower them moving forward using their thinking, exploration, choices, and planning.  A good coach will have great listening skills so they listen and understand what their client is and is not saying.

Coaching certification is designed to develop 11 Core Competencies.  The competencies include the coach following the Code of Ethics, establishing a written coaching agreement, developing trust and intimacy, being present, actively listening, asking powerful questions, using clear and direct language, creating awareness, designing actions, planning and goal setting, and managing progress and accountability.  The coach lets the client create their strategies to achieve a goal, enhance skills, and be more aware.  Powerful coaching questions give the client the freedom to talk out and explain what they’re feeling, their goals, and plan their future.

At the Center for Coaching Certification, the Certified Professional Coach program gets you started for becoming a coach.  To be a coach the minimum is qualifying for membership in the ICF and that requires more training so the Certified Master Coach class is the next step.  Both are ICF-approved programs that support you learning and applying the coaching competencies while gaining both process and tools for your work as a coach.

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What Can a Coach Fix?

What Can a Coach Fix?

By Pete Liska

To answer the question, “What can coaching fix?” start by understanding what a coach is and their role.  The International Coach Federation (ICF), defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”  The ICF goes on to state that the client is the expert in his or her own life.

As taught in coach training, a coach will work with the client to discover and clarify what the clients wishes to achieve.  With questions, the coach will encourage the client to move forward, or towards their goal.  The coach while asking questions encourages the client to come up with their own solution as well as a strategy to move forward towards their goal or what it is that they wish to achieve.  In addition, the coach partners with the client with knowing that the client is responsible and accountable for choices and their way forward.

With the knowledge of what a coach is, the question, “What can a coach fix?” can easily be answered: Nothing.  First, the client is whole and capable.  Second, the client makes their own choices.   A coach partners with the client for moving forward.  That is, working with the client, asking questions of the client, serving as the client’s accountability partner.  During coaching certification, the coaches experience that the best expert for the client’s way forward is the client.   An idea, or way forward from the client has a much greater chance of coming to fruition than having anyone telling the client what and how to move forward.  At the Center for Coaching Certification, the Certified Professional Coach program taught me how to empower the client and what questions to ask a client to help them move forward so they achieve their desired goal.

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The Respect of Being Clear and Direct

The Respect of Being Clear and Direct

By Cathy Liska

How often is miscommunication or misunderstanding creating challenges?  How often have you wondered what someone means with their long explanation?  How often have you wanted them to hurry up and get to the point?  How often do others react the same way with something you are saying?

It is ironic that we have been taught to soften what is said.  Sometimes we say “we” when it is really “you or I”.  This can be quite patronizing.  Sometimes we are figuring out what we want to say while we are talking and this is confusing.  Sometimes we explain what we are saying or asking only to find that now it is harder to understand.

During coach training, one of the competencies developed is being clear and direct.  By shortly simply saying what we mean, we are easier to understand and the conversation flows easily.  In coaching conversations, it is the responsibility of the coach to listen, shortly and simply summarize what the client said, then ask a short, simple question.  The less the coach says the more the client hears.

Imagine taking this skill developed in coaching certification to everyday conversations at work, home, and with friends.  Conversations immediately become easier, more natural, more effective, and it serves everyone involved

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The Gift of Listening

The Gift of Listening

By Cathy Liska

Listening, really listening, is a gift.  How often do you want that gift?  How often do you give that gift?

During coach training, one of the competencies we work on developing is listening.  When participants practice with the techniques taught, they are often surprised by how much of a gap there is between how well they thought they listen and how well they do listen.  Challenge yourself: the next time you find yourself multi-tasking, stop everything you are doing, turn to the speaker, and listen.  Summarize what they say and ask to ensure you got it right.  Ask for more information.  As you do this, note what happens for them.

Completing coaching certification requires practicing coaching.  During the coaching sessions, the coach really listens, rephrases, and asks another question.  This is the flow of a great coaching session.

The funny thing is we often have the mistaken idea that answering their question, giving advice, sharing similar experiences, or explaining is helpful.  The reality is that the more we give people the opportunity to first be heard and understood, then second to explore and expand their thinking, the more we help.  People are, ultimately, their own best experts.  They do know how to figure it out.  When they find their own answer, and choose their own action steps, they follow through.  Give them the space to do this and you give them a gift.

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Assertiveness Techniques

By Pete Liska

Clear, direct language is respectful and a coaching competency.  During coach training for my Certified Professional Coach certification, we learned say what you want and be specific with a question or statement.

Today I had some work done at the house.  The contractor was here hanging a barn-style door. When he was almost complete I noticed a few things.  I started the conversation by asking, “Does the door stop?” because it seemed to want to roll shut on it’s own.  He just said yes, and then proceeded to walk out of the house putting his tools up.  Asking a closed question failed to get an actual response from him.  When he returned into the house, I practiced the “Do say what you want” technique from our coaching certification class.   I said to the contractor, “It looks like the door rolls shut on it’s own.  Will you adjust the stop?”  He said sure.  He took his drill and adjusted the door stop so it held the door when open and slowed it for opening or shutting.  He finished the adjustment, then opened and closed the door, then asked me to do the same.  It was fixed.  He also showed me where and how to adjust it myself.  Using the “Do say what you want” elicited both a response from him and also an action.

This example showed the huge difference between a closed question (it came across just as a fleeting note) versus specific statement and request.  When I asked for exactly what I wanted in a respectful way, the response and outcome was that the request was complied with and I even learned how to do it myself.  It worked far better.  My first closed question and the resulting response irritated me.  If I am assertive (which means clear, direct, and respectful), and then I can prevent irritation and it works smoothly.

When have you found yourself in a similar situation?  How does closed question instead of a forthright and specific statement make a difference for accomplishing what you want?  Being clear and direct is more respectful to everyone.  It also means when asking for something you are more likely to get it the first time you ask.

Coaching certification with the Center for Coaching Certification taught me how to ask open questions and how to be clear and direct.

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Coaching Questions

By Pete Liska

During coach training with the Center for Coaching Certification (CCC), we reviewed different types of questions and were given specific tips for how to ask powerful questions.  An example of a closed question is when I was talking to a friend.  I asked her “Are you ok?”   Her response was, “Yes. Why?”   A closed question, elicited a short, closed answer followed by a call to defend.  Asking this closed question probably came across to her as if something was wrong.  After asking her this question there was no further discussion, she just looked at me, then continued on with what she was doing. Asking a closed question leaves the person asking the question waiting, as if they expected more.  The person who was asked a closed question, depending on the question, may feel defensive.  In this case, eliciting a question about why I was asking something along that line.  Closed questions invite a short answer.

I then asked her a different question, “What makes you happy?”  Her response and answer to this open question was quite involved, she showed excitement, and at one point seemed very enthusiastic about giving me her answer. The following was her response.  “Being happy in my job is being successful, ensuring the customer is happy, the people I help walk away with that ah-ha moment, which makes me feel good.”  She continued with “In my relationship I respect my boyfriend when he accomplishes something.  I am happy when we work together as a team on household chores.”  She continued with, “I am happy when things are done, when I spend time with close friends, and I am happy when other people are happy.”

Asking this open question elicited a longer response without any prodding or further questioning.  She shared the many things that make her happy both in her business and personal life all on her own.  She talked with emotion, happiness, and shared openly compared to when I asked her the closed question about being okay.  It resulted in her sharing and with me intentionally listening so I really heard what she was saying.

It sounds so simple and what I learned as a result of practicing for my coaching certification was that it really requires intention and effort.  How do you invite a full response and intentionally listen when you ask someone a question?

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V-A-K and Coaching

By Pete Liska

First, what is/are V-A-K?  V = Visual, A = Auditory, K = Kinesthetic.  These refer to learning styles.  A visual learner is seeing or imagining a picture when choosing what to say or how to answer a question.  An auditory learner is recalling or creating the sound of what they will say.  A kinesthetic learner is remembering or exploring feelings.  We all use all three learning styles; we each have primary, secondary, and tertiary learning style.

During my coach training with the Center for Coaching Certification’s Certified Professional Coach program, we explored how recognizing and adjusting to V-A-K helps in coaching:

  • by adjusting to a client’s preferred learning style it is easier for the client to understand what is said or asked,
  • it is more comfortable for the client when the pace of speech is similar and this builds rapport,
  • and when a client fully describes what they want using all three styles the full description makes it real and they are more motivated to achieve it.

Experiment with this yourself.  When you are in a conversation adjust your pace to the other persons and use similar words.  When you are talking with someone about a goal of theirs, ask them what they will see, hear, and feel after achieving it.

Having the knowledge of V-A-K helps tremendously both when talking to individuals in general and when coaching people.  Knowing these styles will give you an advantage when supporting your clients.  It gives you a better understanding of how each of your clients think and how to ask questions they understand.  After training with the Center for Coaching Certification, remind yourself to revisit these techniques so that you continue using this powerful tool to help your client.

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Limiting Language

By Pete Liska

Because we all process so much information we have learned ways to manage the information.  This is helpful on a day-to-day basis and at the same time can prevent us for exploring further or considering different solutions.  During coaching certification we learned that the things we say to process and manage information are organized as Meta Models; there are three kinds: Deletions, Generalizations, and Distortions.  This information comes from neuro linguistic programming research.

Deletions are when information is missing.  With deletions, only part of the information is given during a conversation, such as when you ask someone how they are doing and their response is simply, “Good.”  Examples of deletions include: ‘I was out’, ‘He hates me’, or ‘This doesn’t work’.  Each of these statements leaves out information which in turn limits understanding.  As a coach ask questions: Where?  What gives you that impression? or How are you arriving at that conclusion?

Generalizations are when you apply one experience to the next.  Examples include, ‘I always’, ‘I never’, or ‘I can’t’.  These phrases are rarely accurate and limit consideration of other possibilities.  In coach training we learned to ask questions: When haven’t you? When have you? or What if you can?

Distortions are changing information based only on your own perceptions.  Examples of this include, ‘You won’t care’, which is actually an attempt at mind reading, or ‘He makes me mad’, which is implying someone else controls your feelings.  During the coaching certification we discussed questions including, “What is a different possibility?” or “What specifically influences how you feel?”

How is this important when you are a coach?  When a client uses Meta Models, phrases like the above examples, this limits their own thinking, possibilities, and thus outcomes.  Coach training with the Center for Coaching Certification (CCC)  prepared us to ask questions for complete information.  This creates awareness and opens up the opportunities for clients to take action or proactively change based on what they want.

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Goal Setting

By Pete Liska

During coach training an example was given as follows: Imagine going to a travel agent and asking them to book your vacation.  The travel agent asks where you want to go on your trip.  You respond with a list of places that you DO NOT want to go to and things you DO NOT want to do on your trip.  How can your travel agent get you tickets without knowing where you do want to go?

The same is true with goals.  How can you figure out your actions to achieve something you do not want?  So if a coaching client says they DO NOT want to be stressed, the coach will ask them what they do want instead.  If a client wants to keep their work day to eight hours and be calm at work, then they know a goal and can plan how to achieve it.

Coaching certification at the Center for Coaching Certifciation (CCC) also taught us how important it is that a client be working on a goal based on personal choice.  For example, if a client is motivated by someone else pushing or an unwanted consequence, the effort they put into a goal is limited and short term.  When a client is internally motivated then they will engage fully and are more likely to be successful.

Stephen Covey talked about being proactive.  The same is true with goals.  If you are waiting for someone else or something else, then you are being reactive and are likely stuck.  If you figure out what is possible for you to do within your control to move forward, then you make progress.

These concepts seem so simple and as I learned during my coaching certification program, they are powerful and make a big difference.

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