In part 1 of this series we considered the questions of whether coaching personalities administering and evaluating a test is a grey area between coaching and mental health, and whether a test is even necessary. In this part, we will look at some basic tools for understanding clients through conversation.
When you focus on listening and understanding your client, focus on how they express themselves. In the United States, 70% of the population is primarily passive in communication style. This means they hesitate to give their own opinion first and they accommodate others to the point of sometimes not considering or taking care of their own wants and needs. The other 30% of the population are primarily aggressive in communication style, which means they do speak up with their opinion and process information at a fast pace.
How do you identify which is your client’s primary style? Keep in mind that we all use both styles, and sometimes your client is using their secondary style. Start by noticing how many questions you ask before your client fully expresses their own thoughts and dreams. Passive communicators are well served with multiple questions and time to think through their responses. Aggressive communicators are well served when you get straight to the point with your question and let them do more talking.
Another tool for understanding your client is to listen to how they explain and plan. Notice whether they focus on people and feelings, or logic and tasks. In the United States, 50% of the population is primarily emotion based, and 50% is primarily logic based. We all use both emotion and logic; it is about understanding the primary tendency.
The words your client uses give you insight and understanding. Recognizing their preferred method for processing and deciding means that as a coach, you are able to communicate in their language and provide perspective based on their need.
When you participate in training for coaches, ideally you learn these tools as a foundation and expand by learning the strengths and weaknesses of the different tendencies. From there, you learn about how to coach your client based on who they are for client-focused coaching.
In part 3 of this series, we’ll add another dimension by looking at how we receive and process information.