I had a client once who said something I will never forget. She said, “I just love how I look through your eyes.” I hadn’t realized until then how I had both trained myself to look for and see the beauty and the strengths in those I worked with, and how it had become natural to me through my desire to see my clients succeed to reflect my sense of their beauty and capability back to them. Coaching is an incredible medium in which to practice this.
One of the principles I teach in my two-day KCS Coach Development Course (KCS® is a service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation™) is to “first look for what is right about what you see.” For example, when you are looking at a new KCS article with your coachee, because you are more learned in KCS you will notice all the errors and improvements that might be made to the article. If you can set those aside and then look for what is right about the article first it will improve the chances of those things continuing and also keep your coachee from becoming discouraged.
Use Inquiry to ask what they see that is done well and allow them to point out the strengths of their article. Don’t be afraid to simply ask, “what else is right?” to encourage them to see the many things they are already doing well. Then you can ask “what might be improved here?” or “what is missing?” to allow them to look for ways to improve the article first. Then, you can use your ABCs (Ask Before Coaching) to ask “Can I offer some feedback?” and then you can share your thoughts about what might be improved always asking “What do you think about that as a potential improvement?” rather than just assuming your ideas are right. These coaching skills show respect, and confidence in your coachee, and empower and inspire them to continue improving.
When your client (or your children, or your spouse or partner for that matter) sees in your eyes and your attitude that you see them as “whole, capable, and resourceful” it can cause a subtle but profound shift in how they see themselves and they may just be inspired enough to do the great things they have only dreamed of doing in their lives. I remember a time early in my marriage when I was only 21 and pregnant with my first child. (Yes, I was only 19 when I got married). I wanted to drive across the country, from Baltimore to Salt Lake City, to spend some time with my sister. It was before cell phones and I was not confident in reading maps or driving long distances. When I expressed to my husband that I was afraid and didn’t think I could do it, he said “If you can’t do this, you are not the strong, smart, feisty girl I married. Of course, you can do it! Now let’s sit down and plot your course together.” Whenever I was afraid of doing something big like getting my Master’s degree with four little ones on my lap, or earning a Ph.D., I would get a similar reaction and it would help me to see myself as more capable than I felt at the moment. I would forget my own doubts and hold on to the image he had of me until I gained confidence.
When we ask powerful coaching questions of our clients such as, “What do you want from our session today?” “How will you know when you have gotten what you want?” “What is important to you about this?” “What might get in the way for you?” and “How will you overcome those obstacles?” We are setting our coachee up for success and letting them see themselves through our eyes which magnifies their strengths and capabilities. As they see themselves in that reflection they may just feel that they can do anything they put their mind to. They may even have the thought, “I just love how I look through your eyes.”
Dr. Beth is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Master Personal and Executive Coach (MPEC), has the National Board of Health & Wellness Coaches certification (NB-HWC) and has a Ph.D. in Mind-Body Medicine. She teaches Evidenced-Based Coaching for Saybrook University (https://www.saybrook.edu/integrative-wellness-coaching/). Dr. Beth’s KCS® Coach Development Training is considered ‘Best Practices’ in the customer support industry.You can learn more about her and her work at https://thrivewithdrbeth.com/