The Power of The Coaching Alliance

I used to spend a long time preparing for client calls by thinking about what I might say. What tools and techniques might be useful for the client to learn today.

That fails in so many respects.

If the coaching we did last time had any effect (which it will have) then the client is in a different place than last time we spoke.

The best I can do is plan a conversation with the person who showed up 2 weeks ago. They’ve moved on and the conversation needs to as well.

These days I do spend a lot of time planning, but it’s different.

I get a cup of tea, slow down and read back over my notes of all of our previous conversations. I think about the person and their life, what makes them happy, what keeps them awake at night.

When we start our call I want it to feel like a continuation of our previous conversation. I want to feel like I’m really getting to know this person. I want it to feel like that to me and to them.

I met at therapist who was really proud of how busy they were. Seven clients every day.

Even with my limited skills at mental maths it didn’t take me long to figure out that’s 35 people a week. I have to think to myself – that’s really impressive if you measure your impact by how many clients you have. But how well do you know any of them?

That aside, these days I don’t don’t prepare by asking myself what am I going to say. I ask myself: who do I want to show up as?

In the olden days when I found it much harder to find people who wanted to work with me I guess if I’m honest I wanted to show up as:

  • A great coach. That doesn’t work. People don’t care if I’m a good coach. Chances are they don’t have any metric to gauge if I’m a good coach anyway. What they really want to know is – can I help them?
  • Someone who is intelligent and really knows their stuff. Refer to my previous point. People don’t care if I ‘really know my stuff’ all they care about is can I help them?

Maybe I’ll rethink this in the future as I become more enlightened but for now I want to show up 2 ways.

  1. As the person who listens to them better than anyone else in their life listens to them
  2. As someone who cares

I find when I show up like that then I don’t need to know what I’m going to say because under those conditions great and meaningful conversations emerge.

When people feel safe to say whatever comes into their head without feeling stupid or feeling judged they tend to talk more. When people talk more something amazing happens.

They have a tendency to solve their own problems without my needing to give them advice, or sharing my opinion or doing anything remotely clever.

It’s not magic but it is the magical effect that happens when 2 people create a powerful coaching alliance.