What happens in a coaching session?

No one really writes about this. And this is why. The best coaching session is dynamic and malleable because every client has a different perspective, challenge or opportunity to discuss each time. It doesn’t follow a step by step formula like in other professional services. However if you’ve never had a coaching session here’s a basic synopsis for perhaps a first time client.

  • You meet with your coach in a location where you feel comfortable to speak openly and after a brief intro you’ll discuss the specific area of your life where you are challenged at the moment. It’s here you’ll decide with your coach the desired outcome for the session and quite often it’s not the original challenge you thought. Coaching can be done in person but nowadays it’s just as common to speak with your coach on the phone or over Skype. My coach is in New York!
  • You then begin a coaching conversation where the coach listens as you explain the situation. A good coach won’t get involved in the story. Rather they are listening for beliefs, comments, patterns, body language and may stop you mid-story if they feel they already understand enough.Coaching-conversation
  • A trained performance coach will ask smart insight-giving questions. As mentioned in my previous blog on What is coaching, it is not about advice. It’s about asking the questions to get you to think outside of what you are currently able to ‘see’. While a coach will provide a safe, trusting environment they are not your friend so they are able to challenge you in a way in which perhaps family or friends would not.
  • These questions will bring about realisations in terms of your current situation and where you might be holding yourself back. As you are in a trusted space without judgement you are free to express where you are having difficulties.
  • It’s at this time your coach may prompt you to start thinking of opportunities or solutions you hadn’t imagined before. Once you’ve tabled these you can decide on which option is most viable given where you want to get to.
  • Next up is setting a plan. This is not just about setting some SMART goals and setting sail for Tahiti with a mojito in hand.  TahitiYour coach will hold you accountable to what you’ve committed to. And yes, we all get busy and have reasons for not completing our tasks but it’s amazing when you know you have someone to report back to (who you’ve invested to keep you on track) how much more likely you are to complete what you committed to.
  • Finally you’ll finish up with a brief summary of your session and a check in on how you now feel about your situation at hand. Together you will set some targets and there may be some extra reading or work to complete before you met again.

This is a super basic format however every coaching session is different. Coaches have many models and techniques to use so you should never feel like it’s the same old routine every time.

Sometimes it might be quite goal oriented while other times you may explore a behaviour or belief for example a lack of self-confidence or your procrastination habits, then find ways of shifting your mindset to change your outcomes.

Of course to really know what a coaching session is like you need to experience it for yourself. Reach out if you’re interested in finding out more.

 

Get your connector self on this summer.

Schmooze, hobnob, mingle, rub elbows with are all synonyms for networking. No wonder many of us avoid anything with the word network like the plague. But isn’t it simply about making purposeful connections with people? As we enter the festive season and our opportunity to connect increases five-fold I wanted to offer some useful pointers on how to make growing your network an enjoyable experience.

Network

Recently I found myself falling back to old habits at a launch of a new network in Sydney. On arrival, I took a quick panoramic scan of the room & noted many millennial ‘mover & shaker’ types. I then observed myself lurking behind a palm tree, obsessively checking my emails, accosting the waiter for hors d’eovres and ultimately appearing far too busy to start a conversation. Now, before you scoff I know for a fact I am not the only one who can fall into this trap. I certainly have extroverted acquaintances who bounce into a room with a ‘who will I play with?’ approach however I am constantly receiving feedback from colleagues and clients about how uncomfortable putting yourself out there can be. Susan Cain, the acclaimed introvert expert wrote in her blog on networking “I’ve come to realize that the problem with “networking” is not talking to strangers but rather making small talk with strangers—a subtle but crucial difference”. Universally we don’t enjoy the small talk however once we’ve made a connection the conversation becomes so much easier.

So here’s some tips to make networking or my preferred term connecting, a much less painful experience and ultimately very useful skill.

Before an event.

  • Your personal brand. Who are you being? A quick 1 minute check in pep talk to ensure your inner critic isn’t running riot & producing a million reasons why you shouldn’t approach new people. Do you feel confident? If not, recognise your inner critic at play and use the Thanks mind, but I’ve got this covered tactic.
  • Consider your wardrobe. What story does it tell about you? You may want to wear one memorable, albeit suitable piece of clothing.
  • Prepare your chat and do your research on your potential audience. Also having a unique spin on a topic is useful when entering new conversations. Listen to relevant podcasts or read an article which you can contribute to small talk where appropriate.

At the event. 

  • On arrival approach people on their own or groups of 3 – interrupting two people can be uncomfortable. In this video the speaker goes further to suggest open groups of three with at least one women are ideal as generally they are more inclusive.
  • Always obtain a new connection’s business card – dishing our your card is beneficial however you want to be in control of the follow up.
  • Use the exchange of business cards as a way to move on from a conversation which only needs to be five minutes.
  • Shyness can occasionally be interpreted by other people as a lack of professional confidence or experience – if all else fails, keep eye contact, keep your head high and posture confident even if you aren’t feeling it.
  • Obviously body language is important for everyone with research suggesting up to 55% of all communication comes from body language, 38% from tone and 7% from literal words.  How are you holding yourself? Are you open or closed off?
  • Approach each conversation without attachment – don’t put pressure on it to ‘be’ a life changing conversation but still be an investigator – you’ll either learn something about a new person or yourself.
  • Be present and an active listener. Refrain from thinking of how you’ll contribute when they stop speaking. Listen intently. Your connection will be stronger.
  • Authenticity is paramount. People can sniff out in-authenticity very quickly. Be confident, humble and focused without coming across as a ‘that’ pushy salesperson.
  • Be mindful of your story. When you’re on your energy bus, passionate and open the reaction from new connections is completely different to when your story is all about how business is slow or you’re out of control with too much on.

Post an event.

Connecting promptly after an event is essential however refrain from requesting a standard half hour coffee catch up. Show you respect your contact’s time. Be specific about what you would like to speak with them about, how long it will take & what you want to get from the conversation. A phone call within a week of meeting may be enough.

Building your network.

Connecting smarter is just as much about developing a network over time as it is attending events.

Be strategic about who you network with. Rather than a spray and prey approach, be mindful and seek out the key connectors and influencers in your area of interest.

Thank you

  • If you’re after an introduction find a link through someone you already know as an alternative to going direct.
  • Your current network is invaluable. How can you reward those who have provided referrals or linked you to key contacts?

A big thank you to my key connectors Andy Lark, Alice Moros, Mark MacSmith and Nikki Gravning for sharing your top tips on connecting smartly.