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How to create an empowered relationship with your clients?

The coaching relationship is more powerful than either the coach or the client. It is a space that challenges, incites, motivates, encourages, and sometimes demands that the client is powerful.

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As you can see, the relationship is like a triangle, with the coach at one point, the client at another point, and the relationship at the third and final point. The coach grants the relationship power, and the focus of the relationship is the client. The client grants the relationship power and is empowered by the relationship.

5 Tools to create an empowered relationship

1. Confidentiality

Confidentiality is part of showing up as a professional Co-Active Coach. Like in other professions, such as medical doctors, it's your responsibility to honor your client's privacy. Ensuring your client that the information within the conversation is not shared with anyone else creates trust and empowers the relationship.

2. Listening

In life, it's rare to have somebody genuinely listening to us, and we often listen to the words and make up a story on how we would have solved the issue.

As Co-Active Coaches, we listen mainly in "Level 2" and "Level 3" to help our client evoke the transformation.

In Level 2 listening, we have a "laser focus" on the client. We absorb their words and what mimic or gestures they make. In Level 3 listening, we open up the hard focus of Level 2 to 360 degrees. What is going on with you, the client, and the world? The quality and focus of our listening have the client feel that they are heard and that we are with them.

3. Holding the client NRCW

We, as Co-Active Coaches, hold people as naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. This means our clients can find answers, choose, take action, and recover when things don't go as planned.

By holding clients this way, they will regain their power to become a creator of their life, which can be very uplifting for them.

4. Curiosity

In our Co-active model, curiosity includes the questions we ask and the curious mindset we bring to the conversation. Coming with a curious mindset is like looking at the client's world through the wondering eyes of a child. By asking open, expansive, provocative, and exploratory questions, the client can open up fully without fearing being judged.

Curious questions are open-minded. They take the coach on a journey and are easily phrased to avoid sudden stops.

  • What would "being fit" look like for you?
  • What's important to you about your job?
  • What makes this an effective strategy for you?
  • What is another option here?

5. Intuition

Intuition or gut feeling often arrives as an impulse that is not logical but holds a more profound truth for our clients. Intuition is like a muscle, and since we do not live in a culture that offers much support or training in intuition, we, as coaches, need to develop this superpower.

One way to train your intuition muscle is by blurting or speaking it, letting go of your attachment to being right, and not caring where "the truth" comes from. A tip to ease learning is to name when speaking from intuition. Phrases like, "My intuition tells me…" or "I have a sense that…" are some ways to articulate what is going on from your intuitive knowing. Naming that you are speaking from your intuition will invite the client to look more deeply and, quite often, will help them understand their experience or open up new possibilities.

In the Co-Active training, you will learn how to create an empowered relationship with your clients, which will hugely impact your coaching.

About the author
Dr. Matthias Hombauer is a Co-Active Coach, former Molecular Biologist, and Rockstar Photographer. He loves working with change-makers who dare to lead from within and make the world a better place. He lives with his two kids and his wife in Vienna, Austria.

Find out more about Co-Active
Matthias Hombauer - 14 December 2022
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