If you’re struggling with how to keep clients as a life coach or you want to focus on building even better relationships with your clients, stick around as we dive into eight coaching behaviors that will help you maintain successful coach-client partnerships.
Why is the coach-client relationship so important?
Without your partnership as a foundation, you won’t be able to create a safe and trusting environment for your client to open up and move forward. Your ultimate goal is to establish the conditions that will allow your client to access their understanding of how to reach their goals and objectives.
1. Be True to Yourself
Remember to stay true to yourself and be authentic. Of course, remain professional but let your personality shine through. Your client will feel more comfortable if they feel like they’re getting the “real” and authentic you. In turn, they will be able to show you the same vulnerability.
For example, you may lean more towards the Sergeant archetype with an autocratic coaching style, or maybe you prefer sage coaching style, which emphasizes holistic approach. To learn more about different coaching styles, read our blog post What is your coaching style?
Also, remember that your style will evolve as you gain more experience. Coaching is an iterative process we need to adapt to as we all evolve and grow. With each new client-coach relationship, you’ll assess your client’s needs and look into new techniques if needed.
2. Stay Fully Present
To foster a strong coaching relationship with your client, you need to be fully present during your coaching sessions. Make sure to eliminate any distractions in order to focus on your client entirely. The best practice before your meeting would be to review notes from previous sessions to get in the right mindset. Your attention needs to be fully on your client, from arriving on time, keeping your phone silent during the session, and actively listening.
3. Demonstrate Integrity and Professionalism
Every coach needs to commit to personal integrity and demonstrate professionalism. Throughout the process, remain respectful and honest; for example, you shouldn’t promise any unrealistic outcomes to keep your client happy. Instead, focus on establishing clear agreements, realistic goals and objectives, and aligning yourself with your client’s motivations.
Demonstrate professionalism by…
- scheduling coaching sessions and sticking to these reliably
- not speaking about your own worries or problems
- keeping client information confidential
- not using clients as references without their permission
- not promising unrealistic outcomes
4. Let Go of Your Personal Judgments
As human beings, we naturally have preconceptions and biases about other people – whether positive or negative. As a coach, we need to be aware of these biases and work on letting go of any personal judgments.
Treat your clients as equals, actively listen, and demonstrate respect and empathy for their individual journey. Listen to many stories without forming an opinion about their experiences or interpretations thereof.
By respecting your client’s unique learning style, perceptions, and identity, you’ll create a supportive environment that produces ongoing mutual respect and trust. You’re responsible for creating this environment where your client will feel safe to share their motivations, struggles, and goals.
5. Show Genuine Concern and Interest
Successful coach-client relationships rely on the coach showing genuine concern and interest for their client’s journey and success. If you don’t show real interest in your client’s well-being, they probably won’t return.
Your client needs to be able to trust your intentions and feel supported. By showing genuine interest, you’ll be able to create a safe space for them to recognize hurdles or limiting beliefs.
- seek information about the client’s perspectives around the situation
- ask about their priorities and intentions
- coach around the topic the client has chosen
- champion behaviors and actions
6. Communicate Clearly and Set Boundaries
Throughout a coaching relationship, client and coach may spend many hours working on achieving the client’s goals. This close relationship may lead to the client misreading the boundaries.
For a coaching relationship to work, you must clearly communicate the terms of the agreement and the expectations of both parties. One of these terms is to keep ‘social distance‘ in terms of the nature of the relationship. Coaches should only interact with their client in a way that it supports their objectives.
In addition, you need to be aware of the problem of transference—the redirection of feelings from someone in the client’s life to you, the coach. The client may project feelings onto the coach, which disrupts the coaching process.
Your client might invite you to an event or even to an informal coffee date. If this happens, you need to politely decline and remind your client of the terms of your agreement.
Respectfully explain why crossing these boundaries would alter the nature of the relationship and, in turn, hinder the progression or success of the partnership.
7. Be Flexible and Explorative
As a coach, you need to have the ability to become aware of spontaneous interaction with your client allowing for your client’s unique needs. However, being spontaneous as a coach takes time; it’s like learning any craft. With time, you’ll be able to move away from textbook knowledge and become more comfortable with new situations.
This flexible style involves:
- staying fully present
- being curious and explorative
- staying responsive to any cues that surface during a session
- allowing the client to contribute
By staying fully present and explorative, you’re respecting your client’s unique needs and showing genuine interest in their learning style and personality.
8. Our Final Piece of Advice: Be Patient
Be patient because trust and familiarity takes time. All interpersonal relationships take time to grow deeper and stronger as they are based on trust and familiarity; the same applies to coaching relationships. At the start of a new coaching relationship, remember to be your true self, communicate clearly, and be open to learning new techniques for your new client!
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We at New York Life Coaching Institute believe holistic life coaching leads the way. At NYLC, we are interested in the client as a whole person and approach their goals in an integrative manner. Our balanced approach helps cultivate resilience to embrace all that life has to offer, and we explore the frontier between their comfort zone and their true potential.