The way a client uses language provides the coach with insight. For example, because of how much information we all process every day, we delete detail or generalize situations to manage the flow. When a client is generalizing, specific words let the coach know and then they ask more questions. If detail is left out, words point to this and a coach probes further. For example, if a client says, “Typically…” the coach knows this is a generalization and asks about different possibilities. If a client says, “It doesn’t work” the coach recognizes that detail on the reasons is missing and probes further to discover how it could work.
Language also indicates focus. When a client focuses on what they don’t want, the coach will ask them about what they do want. If a client says, “I don’t want to work in a chaotic office” the coach realizes that the goal remains undefined. The coach then asks the client what office environment they do want.
When motivated externally, the client’s language lets the coach know. A statement such as, “I am going to do this because I don’t want to get in to an argument” tells the coach the client does not buy-in to their own action plan. The coach will ask the client what they would do if an argument was not a risk factor. The coach will then explore what it means to the client personally to get the result.
If a client is waiting on others or circumstance before taking action, their language includes such phrases as “after they do this” or “when that happens”. The coach then explores what actions the client does control now to support the desired outcome.
With the insight provided through language, the exploration and strategizing in coaching is richer and supports positive outcomes.