When a client comes to a session with their agenda, what’s the best way to serve them?

When I say it like that, it’s obviously a ‘no’, right? But when you’re new to being a coach what are you feeling before a session? Performance anxiety. You feel you should know … everything.

It’s understandable and it’s counter to what’s really needed for an effective session. Shifting from performance mode into curiosity relieves the pressure. It opens the field to sensations — your own and your clients — and intuition kicks in.

Childlike People Make Great Coaches

Hey Coaches!

First, I want to say that curiosity is an innate skill. It’s a survival strategy as well as a way to be delighted by the world. It’s a love of learning. And coaches, most often, love to learn.

And as we get older, we tend to close off curiosity because we’re encouraged to KNOW — to know things.

Have you ever watched a person you admire admit they don’t know something?

How did it make you feel? For me, there’s this sense of wisdom that the person knows what they don’t know and are willing to admit it. I consider it to be … maturity.

Masterful coaches aim to stay present, open minded and curious. In fact, if you’re in a curious state you are simultaneously present, in the present moment and open-minded. How beautiful is that?

Curiosity is a muscle that goes slack if you don’t use it for a while but it doesn’t take long to grow strength there again. Like so much, it’s a matter of raising awareness until it becomes habitual. Coaching clients is a great way to build that muscle.

Curiosity is an indication of genius. It awakens the observer self. The mind stays active instead of passive. It takes a flexible mind to come back again and again to curiosity.

Yet, isn’t it interesting that children are the most curious among us? What does that tell you about the urgent need to know all?

Being Curious is Good for Coaching Clients

It’s taken me a long time to learn to be curious in coaching sessions.

Sure, I learned that open-ended questions are the best tool for coaches next to listening. But I didn’t stop to think … what comes before the powerful questions inside of me?

I’ve since learned that the beginning of excellent coaching starts with knowing what is motivating me and making a quick adjustment in the moment if necessary.

For example, if when I coach I’m motivated to be right, to be clever and to be praised for my approach then I’ve forgotten to connect with my client and instead I’m in performance mode. The spotlight is on me.

Being motivated by service is a different come-from than performance mode.

The energy changes the field of possibility. I don’t mean service in the sense that you lose yourself completely. Just shift the spotlight from yourself to your clients. Not an interrogation light but rather a soft focus similar to in meditation.

That soft focus, in place of scrutiny, allows for curiosity, letting go of judgment and attachment.

When you come from service and with a curious mind there’s the possibility for AHAs. You must be willing to be surprised by and learn from your client — learn things about them and about yourself.

Ask Powerful Questions in Coaching Sessions with Genuine Curiosity

It’s been said that you should never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to. But that’s for lawyers. When it comes to coaching, absolutely do ask questions with a genuine desire to know what your client thinks or feels.

If you come into a coaching session assuming you KNOW what’s going on, you’ll miss the opportunity to hear their unadulterated point of view and the clues to your next question.

I’m going to take a strong stand and declare that the #1 trait of the best coaches is curiosity.

I know this from personal experience both in the role of coach and client.

The best coaching I’ve ever received was surprising, eye opening and took me to someplace new and fresh. It was mind changing.

The best coaching I’ve ever done was like that too. On both sides of the table it demonstrated why we coach.