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A Trainee’s BIZARRE Observations From a Life Coaching Demonstration

Our coach training program includes a blackboard style learning forum where trainees have an opportunity to post discussions to the group. Last week, a trainee took the time to post an extremely thoughtful recap of her learning experience related to observing a coaching demonstration. I am sharing that post here with her permission, as it offers unique insight into the coach training experience. The demonstration client’s name has been changed for confidentiality purposes.

Post by Cyndy:

I wanted to write down the BIZARRE things I noticed Leah doing, in her coaching session with Jasmine. To help reinforce them for myself. Feel free to not read on!

These bizarre things are exactly what we’ve been reading about. I had no idea how…unusual they appear, when put into practice. And how difficult they will be to execute! I have always thought of myself as a rare, deep listener. OMG, was I wrong. Enough with the brain barf. Here’s what I noticed.

1) Leah’s reactions to Jasmine’s points were completely neutral. While I was throwing air-fists and getting ten kinds of excited on her behalf, like, “YES! That’s it right there! You nailed it; that’s what you need in your life!” Leah was like, “*pause* okay…”

What that DID was, it did NOT turn the focus onto Leah’s reaction. It allowed the point to remain Jasmine’s ideas. This is so important, for me at least. Because I am a cheerleader, and I think it’s like, endearing or something. I think it makes people feel good, when I get excited about them or their ideas. But in this case, if I had been the coach, and I had been reacting with enthusiasm, it would have shifted to being about what I thought of what Jasmine was saying. And–thunderbolt–that’s not the point, in coaching. My worth, as a coach, will be not in my enthusiasm about people, but my ability to deeply listen to and understand people. This will take a while to really register for my brain.

2) Leah realllllly was silent. Like, it was painful at times. But then…Jasmine filled in the silence. With magic. With the kind of insight that maybe she hasn’t had before? Or at least, the kind of stuff that doesn’t get “talked about,” usually, because in general conversation, people don’t get silent long enough for one to really unspool the ball of yarn. So, I gotta get okay with awkward silence.

3) The questions Leah asked were not my questions. Seriously. I was so curious about so much of what Jasmine was saying. I, personally, wanted to hear more about this or that. And again, in general, I walk around thinking people feel good when I listen to them, and ask them questions about what they’re saying, because it makes them feel like, “Huh. I must be interesting.”

But. That’s not the point of coaching. I hate to say it, but when I ask questions about what I’M curious about, when somebody speaks, it’s…selfish. I’m feeding my brain.

Leah’s questions were about JASMINE–like, what’s the difference? The questions were about what Jasmine wants. I don’t know if that’s quite right. Like, my questions would’ve been about Jasmine, too–“What is it that makes you feel sexy in that location,” with an eye toward figuring out how she could duplicate those circumstances in this location. But: that would have been MY agenda for where Jasmine might want to go. Leah’s questions weren’t directed at any particular path for Jasmine to figure out her solutions. Instead, Leah’s questions were directed at the dirt, so Jasmine could find her own path. I hope this will become clearer, and more automatic, for me! It’s making my brain feel itchy.

Jasmine’s response to Cyndy’s post:

My experience as she was asking questions was ultimately I knew what to do and how to do it. With her questions I dug deeper into myself on a level I had not really considered and I saw things in myself that have always been there. That was the most powerful take away. The answers we seek and what our clients seek is already within themselves. 

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