Ep 138 – A Coaching Skill You Might Not Have Learned Yet

This episode is about a coaching skill you might not have learned in coach training school. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s a relationship skill.

A few weeks ago one of my VIP clients emailed me asking if she could coach me in our next session to get more practice. It totally took me by surprise. No client had ever asked that before.

And I felt conflicted about it so I gave it some careful thought before responding. It wasn’t without risk. How might it affect our mentoring relationship?

I decided to say ‘yes’ if I could think of a good topic. It had to be something real for me because making something up would not give her practice. And it needed to be complex enough to truly challenge her.

And then I realized my topic was staring me in the face. I had been deliberating about a very serious decision. Something that involved my health, finances and it affected my partner too. Suddenly I felt gifted by the Universe because I really did need an objective person to share this dilemma with.

Into the Co-Creative Relationship

So in our next session we jumped into the co-creative relationship.

My client’s coaching was near to flawless. In fact, it was some of the best coaching I’d ever experienced. I came away from the conversation feeling clear about my next steps and leaning towards a decision that would honor my values and needs.

After coaching, we both stepped out of the co-creative role. She asked for feedback and it was easy to give her praise about a dozen things. There was only one thing that I thought needed correction.

Because I’d been working with this coach for a few months already, this thing hadn’t affected my ability to be coached well. But, I knew that it could be an issue for her with a new client if she didn’t make changes. It could even affect her ability to enroll a new client.

During our coaching her voice was a bit flat. Technically, she was masterful. Asking all the right questions with excellent timing and moving me through to my decision without advising or manipulating.

Voice Matters

But energetically, I didn’t feel enough human connection in the coaching. And this is important! It was not about the words she spoke. It was about the lack of feeling conveyed in the words through her voice.

Voices are amazing things. They have the power to communicate beyond words.

I first learned this in college when I took a voice and diction class. At the end of the semester my professor clapped his hand on my shoulders and looked directly into my eyes saying: “You must do something professional with your voice, Rhonda.”

That had impact I can tell you. But I didn’t become a singer or actor or broadcaster. I became a coach.

I’ve used my voice a lot of the last two decades. Never so much as with my podcast, which has given my voice more range in multiple ways. It’s impacting more people than ever.

Just the other day in a Discovery Call a prospect said to me: “You sound just like your podcast!” It seemed that was reassuring to her. And I felt a kind of connection that I don’t think couldn’t have come from her reading a bunch of blogs I’d written.

Back to my client – the excellent coach … I suggested that she raise the energy of her voice. Inject it with human connection. Just a subtle shift would make a big difference.

And she immediately knew what I meant. She recognized that in concentrating so much to use the coaching model and ask the right questions that her attention wasn’t on the energy she was conveying.

And she also noted that she could relate to the dilemma I brought in my agenda, which she said threw her off a bit, though I could not tell.

You can convey so much with minor modulation in your voice. Changes in the timbre of your voice, speed, volume, enunciation, and word emphasis add meaning beyond words.

Imagine that you are in session with a client. How can you convey softness in few words without sounding parental or overstepping a boundary? Could you hear the warmth in my voice just now?

How can you shine a smile or convey humor through your voice? I literally did smile as I said that.

How can you call attention to what you’re saying without becoming loud?

Did you notice that I slowed my words down just then and put a bit more emphasis on certain words? My mouth worked a bit more to put more meaning into the words.

If you’re meeting face to face with clients, you might not need to inject more humanity into your voice. It can also come across with a gesture or look on your face. You shine light through your eyes.

I’ve always preferred to coach over the phone. I’m an introvert. Plus I like to take notes. And I know there is intimacy in speaking directly into my client’s ears and they into mine. From my client’s voice I can read body language. I can tell a lot just by the tone, speed and little elements in their voice.

You can too. All it takes is attention to this. Now maybe you already modulate your voice for meaning. Or maybe you could use more subtlety in your voice. I think you know instinctively what you need to do to be an even more masterful coach.