Motivating Your Client in Coaching

Beth Donovan

By Beth Donovan

Beth Donovan

Many clients come to me wanting reach a specific weight goal.  Their expectations are often for me to put them on a diet like a weight loss clinic and tell them what to do for exercise because they misunderstand coaching.  Something I learned in coach training is that telling the answer is far less effective than really coaching where I ask them questions and they find their own answer. I have found this to be true.

When coaching them, I ask them many powerful questions to get them to think.  They are best served when they come to their own answers because they are their own best experts.  Questions include:

  • What do you want your outcome to be?
  • How are you planning to achieve that?
  • What is your motivation?
  • What will it feel like when you reach your goal?

As coach, I listen for where their motivation comes from, internally or externally.  If it’s internally, they may say something like, “I want to walk more easily without getting out of breath.”  Notice that the goal is to make themselves satisfied.  If the goal is external, they may say something like, “I want to get a boyfriend.”  Notice that the goal depends on someone else.  That type of motivation is short-lived and is better redirected toward an internal motivation using powerful questions.  In that case, I will say, “That’s a great awareness.  What does it mean for you personally?”

As a coach it is essential to adjust to each individual.  Stay in the moment with your client.  Listen to who they are in that moment, in that space.  Are they passive or aggressive, logic or emotion, and in what combination?  Coach accordingly by asking powerful questions tailored for their style and know when to be silent.  For example, passive/logic people may want more time to think, while aggressive/ emotional people may jump right in and brain storm.

Things to remember when coaching include, just as we all learned in our coaching certification, being present, asking powerful questions, and listening actively.

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