5 Ways to Right Size Yourself to Empower Your Coaching Clients

You know how certain clients are a perfect fit for you? They come to the table fully responsible for their feelings, decisions and actions. They’re hungry for the gifts of coaching, no matter what they look like. They allow it to catalyze their own wisdom and intelligence.

Those folks are showing up empowered and fully stepping into their role in the co-creative relationship.

But what about the flipside when it feels like a client comes to a session resistant, as if their arms are folded across their chest. Coaching seems to bounce off them. Or worse they bring the expectation that you’ll fix things for them, but aren’t willing to be part of the solutions. What’s going on there?

Power dynamics.

Empower Your Clients - Rhonda HessFor coaching to happen, both coach and client must show up co-creative, resourceful and whole.

How can you do your part?

How to Stop Shrinking or Inflating Your Power

Most coaches I meet genuinely want to help others. In fact, it’s often a driving force in their lives to give.

I know I have that “helper” archetype. And I’ve gone many turns around the spiral learning to be conscious about the heavy shadow side of that noble desire. Do you feel me?

What I know is that empowering clients begins with “right sizing” myself. My intention is to show up as powerful as I am without inflating or deflating myself through my thoughts, words and actions. Because I know if I’m not right sized it will upset the power dynamic and disempower my client.

It’s not a set it and forget it sort of thing. It requires centering before beginning any session.

Here are 5 ways to help your clients feel empowered.

1.  Hit the reset button before sessions.

  • Take 5 minutes of quiet to breathe and reconnect to yourself.
  • Value yourself intrinsically.
  • Own your gifts, talents, and skills (as different but not more than your clients.)
  • Show vulnerability without being self-deprecating.
  • Get your needs met outside the coach/client relationship.

2. Let your clients take full responsibility for their role.

  • Charge fees that pay you well.
  • Never adjust fees to get a client.
  • Treat clients as resourceful adults.
  • Don’t do your clients work for them.
  • Set time boundaries and ask clients to honor them.

3. Promote original thinking and self-starting.

  • Verbally appreciate your client’s unique abilities.
  • Praise self-awareness, intuitive action and insights.
  • Reward initiative with enthusiasm and ask about their next steps.
  • Challenge them to do more than what’s comfortable.

4. Spark their wisdom without manipulating.

  • Let go of assumptions of what you think they know or don’t.
  • Ask their opinion about how to best coach them.
  • Ask a lot of direct open-ended questions. Let go of impulses to lead.
  • Own your opinions as just that, don’t make them wrong for theirs.

5. Listen for their truth.

  • Validate their feelings without taking them on.
  • Separate your story from their story.
  • Ask questions to help them separate facts from interpretation.

What are other ways you’ve found to empower clients and stay out of the trap of fixing or saving them? Share your thoughts here.

  • Tracey

    This is a fantastic article and one I very much needed to read.  One of my favorite clients in our last session was not as open as he had been and its been upsetting to me.  I think I wanted to save him from himself.  This article came at the perfect time and thank you so much for writing it!

    • Hey Tracey, thanks for sharing your experience with us. I’m glad you feel me on this, too! Take heart knowing that most coaches struggle with “right sizing” themselves. I’ve found that by simply being aware of this dynamic and then taking the time to ‘return to center’ before each session truly helps us foster a great co-creative relationship that will empower our clients. I look forward to hearing how the next time goes for you!

    • Hey Tracey, thanks for sharing your experience with us. I’m glad you feel me on this, too! Take heart knowing that most coaches struggle with “right sizing” themselves. I’ve found that by simply being aware of this dynamic and then taking the time to ‘return to center’ before each session truly helps us foster a great co-creative relationship that will empower our clients. I look forward to hearing how the next time goes for you!

  • Kim Birkhimer

    Great topic Rhonda!   “Right sizing” can be quite a delicate balance for me and I am particularly vulnerable to a “less than” or “greater than” leaning when I am “off the spiritual beam’.  Remembering “in the moment” to center myself can be tough so being reminded to form the habit (discipline) to do so as a preparation before each session is just what I need to hear.

    • So cool you’re digging into these blogs, Kim!

      It’s subtle but definitely a fine tuning that can be learned. I like the idea of seeing it in my mind like a meter — am I tipping over into inflation? I can feel it if I get attached to an outcome or if I want to much for my client and therefore take some of their responsibility away. And then adjust. It’s about staying in tune with integrity while staying present with the client.