Written by Jeff Lim.

Ever since I personally experienced executive coaching sessions a few years ago, my eyes were opened to this wonderful modality in talk therapy. Though the coach was hired to focus on enhancing work life and company efficiency, the coach managed to work into the sessions some life altering personal insights that drew attention to hidden personal issues and helped solve them. The surprising thing was that he didn’t “tell me” the answers but guided me to find the answers and solutions within myself. I was hooked and wanted more, but I wanted to be in the coach’s seat.

Entering the learning journey of CPC with Corporate Coach Academy was a good fit for my thirst for knowledge and certification. The course created a good base to begin my coaching journey with solid protocols and teachings based on the ICF Competencies.

I shall share some insights and learnings of these coaching protocols. As with everything, a clear foundation and knowledge of what coaching is and what it is not is critical. As a coach, it is important to have fundamental skills and knowledge that should be actively practiced for it to be naturally delivered during coaching sessions.

XunZi Quote: Translated by me reads
Hearing without Listening
Listening without Seeing
Seeing without Understanding
Understanding without Action
Only when something produces Action will it be said to have been Truly Learned.

What it means in the context of Coaching is simple. We need to listen intently with curiosity, question appropriately for inner meanings, raise awareness for clear insights and finally move coachees to action for change. The client needs to listen to themselves speak and hear the issues verbalized, generate mental pictures to understand, discuss and prepare action plans, and finally get to work on the actions to truly transform themselves to a better situation and goals.

Understanding the fundamental CCA Coaching Model of See-Say-Do and the 7 protocols that lie within them is essential. It guides the progression of the client’s journey, to bring the client from a state of the unknown, through delivering them awareness and clarity, and finally to creating action plans and executing plans to bring forth effective and long lasting changes.

The “See” is the beginning of the Journey. Within this first stage lies three protocols. The Trial, the Contract and the Discovery. This can be broadly described as establishing trust and rapport, agreeing on the essentials for smooth coaching sessions and finally the beginning of the exploratory discussion to understand the client’s story, issues and realities. This makes way for identifying key goal areas and the way forward.

The Trial protocol, reflects the ICF competencies (no 4), Cultivating Trust and Safety. Establishing mutual trust opens up pathways to clearer and more truthful sharing. The Coaching Conversation begins with listening to and observing the client with the purpose of understanding the client, their context and who they are. To let them know we are present before them and wish to maintain a relationship of mutual respect and trust. That it is a safe environment for honest sharing and discussions. Patience and genuine curiosity are paramount traits that need to be present in the coach. Curiosity is probably the simplest form to show the client that you are genuinely interested in the whole story and how to help them.

The Contracting protocol is the stage to set and agree on ground rules and clear agreements in relation to the impending coaching relationship, the coaching processes, the plans and goals to be made. Here, not only do coaches set forth what is expected from the client but also what the client’s expectations are, how the client wants help from the coach and what limitations they will or will not be willing to cross in the relationship.

One agreement I have always prefered ask the clients to confirm is that “Information that is shared within the sessions be kept private and confidential. Should there be any requirement to share certain information with the sponsor, I will seek permission before sharing, otherwise a general summary without details will be shared”. I feel that this establishes a deeper sense of the client’s trust in me and the coaching process.

The Discovery protocol is probably by far the larger portion of the coaching sessions. It is at this stage, we delve deeper into the story to clarify and to challenge what has been spoken by the client. We also share observations or remarks we have heard that either do not coincide with the story or to raise awareness of a self limiting belief that has risen from the story.

An example during a coaching session, the client asked for help in building her coaching business. The client mentioned that in the process of establishing a new coaching business that uses Metaphysics as a tool, she had shared her exciting new found passion with her close friends and family members.

Unfortunately, the reactions and responses she received were very negative and resulted in self deprecating thoughts causing her to slow down instead of moving forward with her plans to launch the coaching practice.

At these point, to address this concern, I asked a few question to qualify the issue. “What is it that they said is making you have these thoughts”

“What parts of these conversations do you think is truth and the others false”

“What do you think was the motivation of these people sharing negative feedback on something you think so very highly of?”

“What is the real reason for your hesitation?”

The answers that came back led to a self limiting belief of Doubt. That the people she thought she could depend on to encourage her gave her negative feedback for various reasons. Some wanted to spare her the pain of failure, some didn’t understand the concept of combining Metaphysics and Coaching, therefore responded negatively.

To turn the Doubt Frame to a positive outcome is to make her Trust in herself, her dreams and her methodology.

“Do you think they are qualified enough to make such comments?” Client: “No”

“Do you think you are more qualified and knowledgeable in these areas of Metaphysics and Coaching to be able to do a good job?”

Client: “Yes!”

“What do you think of their comments right now when you have this new realization?”

Client: “They have no right to try to bring me down. They do not have my permission to talk bad about something they don’t understand anything about. I cannot let them say bad things. I cannot let their words affect my belief. I must not speak to people who are going to be wet blankets to my dreams. I will look for people that share my joy and excitement and people who are positive and will give positive feedback.”

My response is to reinforce this new feeling: “It sounds like you have your thinking straight on. Now go breathe it and live it. I believe it is a strong resolve and good way of thinking.”

Once all SLBs and negative frames are dealt with, conversation returns to establishing areas of key focus in setting the Goal and the desired outcomes that will be catalysts to achieving the Goal. The Big Goal above all goals.

“What is the one big thing you want to achieve?”

Client: “ I want to create a thriving Coaching practice that people will realize, with Metaphysics as a helpful tool in guiding them, where they can plan their lives and attain their dreams and goals they set for themselves.

“So what needs to be present at this time?”

From this we open the doors to discussion to list down as many desired outcomes that comes to mind and choose the top three “Desired Outcomes” that will effectively bring her closer to her Big Goal. It is important that the client understands quality over quantity of desired goals may lead to getting to the Big Goal faster.

What do I mean by quality over quantity? Using the Pareto 20/80 rule. Choosing the top three best Desired Goals and expending 20% of the focus and effort will lead to 80% success. Three is already abundant to focus on. Therefore, focus is more lasered and effort is continuous. With this understanding well received by the client, we move to the Deep Learning stage.

The Deep Learning protocol, we go even deeper into the three desired outcomes. This refers to the SAY portion of the SEE-SAY-DO coaching stages. This stage is where we facilitate and craft ideas and actions, the ‘how to’ segments to achieve the Big Goal. Allowing the client to choose the sequence of which Desired Outcome to discuss, gives them the assurity that she is in control and leading the path to achieving her own Big Goal. She needs to take ownership and responsibility. This also helps in reinforcing the steps and protocols for the client to use to self coach in future issues.

We need to be mindful that we are facilitators of change, a guide of process and sounding board for ideas. We may share opinions or past experiences to assist in thinking but in no way tell the clients what they should do.

The ICF competencies of Facilitating Client Growth (no 8) is more evident in this section as we must work with the client to integrate and weave these new insights and awareness into their thinking and behavior. We need to fortify their resolve by supporting them, assisting in designing mini goals, desired outcomes and action plans.

For this case, the client believes that the most urgent three desired outcomes (1) achieving awareness of her unique coaching methodology and the service she provides, (2) the removal of any stigma that metaphysics was related to fortune telling and (3) to increase new customer trials and sign ons.

As deep learning looks into the deeper requirements to achieve Desired Outcomes, the focus of the conversation is on the moving parts with the goal of creating SMART goals. S.M.A.R.T goals refer to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based. Questions from the coach must have these in mind to ensure discussions are on track to make SMART goals.

In this section, the “Why?” questions play a bigger role to deepen the client’s understanding on the reasons. Understanding the reasons, leads to creating or changing beliefs and thus forming positive attitudes to drive changes and action.

The client believes that the biggest hurdle is the stigma or perception that Metaphysics still is thought of as hocus pocus, divination or fortune telling. Her intention is to increase awareness and educate potential clients on the reality of Metaphysics, the wider acceptance that it holds currently and the huge potential it has.

“Why do you think this”

Client: “Remember earlier how I shared that my close friends and family all reacted negatively and were discouraging me in furthering my dreams? I have come to realize that the most likely reason they are so negative is that they could have been wrongly informed, had bad experiences or too embarrassed to admit that they are interested”

The client had an epiphany and has turned the previous large disempowering from into an opportunity idea. The realization that if she can change the belief of the naysayers and doubters, she can expand the potential target market for clientele. At this point we have agreed that using marketing’s 4Ps and defining each Desired Outcome into one of the 4Ps will help focus the action plans better. After a quick explanation of what the 4Ps were, we started to classify which of them fit into the desired outcomes.

To share this process let’s look at one of her desired outcomes – achieving awareness of her unique coaching methodology and the service she provides. This pertains to promotion and advertising her unique business model.

“Why is this the most important?”

Client: “As a startup, no one knows me and no one has heard of this unique method of coaching. I need to get myself better known to attract potential clients and signups.”

“What needs to happen here?”

Client: “I need to be more visible. I need to be seen. I need to have opportunities to showcase what i can do and get them to be curious about what is Metaphysics and Coaching”

“What is one way?”

Client: “ I am thinking, I can write articles and post it in selected media, create flyers and posters, join choice Facebook groups, be active in Metaphysics networks and circles.”

“What are your concerns here”

Client: “ I need to make sure the message share is interesting and can make people curious.”

“This is a concern because?”

Client: “If I can reduce or remove the resistance to try, I can bring them into a trial session to show how it works. I am sure I can bring good results, create awareness and turn that into interest to become a client.”

Creating greater awareness and digging deep to create realizations helps put the desired outcome into perspective to create SMART goals.

“How will you make this into a SMART goal”

Client: “ I will create a business information sheet that explains my coaching model and place them in print media and social media. I will put specific contact details and count the number of calls or emails I get within a specific time frame to measure its effectiveness. I will get friends to help with the writing and wordings to make it attractive and to the point, and even offer free trials for anyone one interested. I believe i can get this done within a week from today”

Once all three of the desired goals have gone through the same process, these are listed in writing. This is the Action Confirmation protocol stage. The client is committed to the written Plans and signs off. By signing the document, the client is now committed and takes ownership of these actions. All key details are listed for the goal plan.

The final stage is the DO stage of the SEE-SAY-DO. Tracking progress and measuring success is essential. If and when certain plans do not show success, the opportunity to do check and balances and also the opportunity to tweak the action plan to find a right fit solution arises. This continues in further sessions as agreed within the Coaching Contract signed.

Reflection of Challenges and Successes

  1. One challenge is to hold back on your own thoughts and ideas in solving an issue. We need to refrain from giving too many suggestions or opinions to get things moving forward in the session. Patience and creating the appropriate questions for that particular moment is difficult as the “Advice Monster” (Ref: Michael Bungay Stanier “The Advice Trap”) is alway steady to leap out at any
  2. Silence and short answers is another issue. On occasions the client will be stumped from the Be patient, they are thinking of the answer. Allow for time to collect their thoughts to make them cohesive.
  3. Overly long answers are If you allow the client to waffle on with long stories, sessions get dragged out and time is wasted without any clear focus. The clients need to be aware of the time frame and the coach needs to be able to reign in conversation with tighter questions.

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