The Foundations of Coaching Yourself & Others
Mindsets for improved communication & relationships
On Coaching Yourself & Others — Part 1:
The main purpose of the series is to provide a clearer understanding of how you can better manage and coach yourself, but also help others along the way.
This guide is aiming to help you to gain clarity about your life, re-assess priorities, define your direction for the future, improve your relationships and ultimately come closer to what you personally define as a more meaningful and fulfilling life.
The series will amongst others cover the following topics:
- The Inside-Out Approach
- Emotional Intelligence
- Core Identity
- Core Values
- Communication Skills
- Coaching Frameworks
This first part is going to provide some of the key foundations of dealing with others, be it through coaching or in other kinds of relationship or setting that involves communication.
Implementing these foundations will not only enrich your own life but will enable you to contribute to the quality of life of others.
Definition of Coaching
To start off, it is essential to get clear on what coaching actually means.
Originating in the world of sports and quickly transitioning into the corporate world, coaching has reached everyone that wants to be successful and live a more fulfilling life.
As there is a lot of information out there it is crucial to understand that coaching is not about being someone’s guru, not about counseling, not a therapy, not teaching, not advice giving.
Essentially, it is about developing yourself first in order to be able to help others.
It is about getting the best out of people and provide a platform for others to reflect on what is true for them and what they want.
Along the way, it includes a mix of communications skills, language patterns, frameworks, techniques, wisdom, and insights.
Life coaching is about asking questions and offering a range of skills that empower the person to find the answers within themselves. It is not about telling others what to do but helping them to find out for themselves, because each person is the expert on their own life.
An approach could be to see the person where she is now and see the potential she has as well as the traits and character she possesses. The key would be to inspire her to achieve her potential by putting down limiting beliefs and step out of her comfort zone to become a far more congruent version of herself.
Hereby, the role of the coach is to provide support, challenge current perspectives, being a facilitator of change and hold accountable.
Therefore, this is how a possible definition could look like:
„To guide others through purposeful conversations in building a solid foundation for their lives by defining what a meaningful life will look like for them, what their values are and how they really want to be, and then be providing the tools to become that desired version of themselves.”
The Core Beliefs
Beliefs influence our perception and thus our behavior. In short, they shape our world.
Beliefs have immense power over your life. Therefore, it is crucial to become aware of your own beliefs and replace negative beliefs with new empowering ones.
There are five core beliefs which will not only drastically improve your own outlook on life, but also the outlook of others around you. They are applicable in the setting of a coaching, but also in any kind of relationship.
Keep in mind, it doesn’t matter whether these beliefs are objectively true or scientifically verifiable, but rather whether having them is improving your life.
1. There Is No Such Thing As Bad Intention
Nobody wants to screw up. But we all still do, even though we had other intentions. An individual will always make the best choice they can, according to the information they have available to them at the time.
Everything that we do is directed towards something, something that we value and think will benefit us. Don’t mix up what we do — our behavior — with who we are. If we become aware that there could be a better behavior to reach our goals while being in line with our intention, we are likely to adopt that new behavior.
In every good relationship, whether in coaching or in general, there needs to be trust. So, never make a false assumption about people’s intentions.
Always assume good intentions and set out to understand the real intentions. This will protect trust and allow you to really understand the other person.
2. The Past Doesn’t Equal Future
What holds most of us back?
The fear of failure.
But you only know that it is a bad thing because you have somewhen failed before and experienced negative emotions. The problem is that we base our anticipation about the future on past failures and rejections.
This will result in either a self-fulfilling prophecy or no action at all.
The key is to learn to let go of the past.
Bill Keane put it like this:
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That’s why its called present.
Let go of the past and forgive yourself and others for whatever happened.
The key is to shift the perspective away from the past and maybe the rut we’ve found ourselves in and take risks to set out to do what we want to do.
Having a clear goal and purpose, directed at the future instead of dwelling on the past is what gives meaning and fulfillment in life.
3. No One is Broken
This is one of the most powerful beliefs there is.
People believe that they are broken, damaged by the past and not good enough.
These are limiting beliefs and inadequate self-images and are what really holds us back.
Just try to assume that you yourself and people in general are not broken, they are good enough, they are whole and you will realize that it is true.
This is the game changer which allows you to drop the paradigm of scarcity, desperation and the feeling of lack. The victim mindset, the idea of being tossed around by circumstances, cannot survive anymore.
Instead, you realize that you are already abundant.
You’re a human being and you are alive. That is all.
By letting go of the past and realizing your abundance and wholeness, you are free to do whatever you are inspired to do.
4. Everything is Achievable
If someone did what you set out to do, it can be modeled. It might not be possible for you right now, but it will be at some point, if you keep trying and working on yourself.
Even with things that have not been done yet, as technology, science and the the human race as a whole is evolving so fast, there will always be new possibilities in the future because of our creativity and imagination.
What holds us back are the wrong beliefs.
With the right beliefs, all you need is a good strategy, then put in the action and hard work and you will get there.
5. Empowerment Comes Via Responsibility
Many people like to transfer responsibility for their life.
It is more comfortable to be able to blame others if bad things happen to us. It protects our ego.
Change from the victim mindset to the mindset of being in charge.
If everything is achievable and you are not broken, then you can proactively shape your future.
Assume responsibility through the Prime Belief.
You do not control what happens to you but you can always control your interpretation and reaction.
Develop a sense of inner resilience, a consistency in your reaction.
By clearly defining and being aware of your sphere of control, you know what to focus on and are able to avoid being overwhelmed by external things that are outside of your control and being lead astray.
What Factors Impede Listening And Learning?
Relationships always include communication.
In order to improve our relationships, we have to work on our communication. An important, but often neglected part is the “listening side” of communication.
It’s easy to focus on making sure you are understood, but often what is really needed is to understand others first.
This is where “Active Listening” comes into play. Listening is not just a passive skill, but rather something that needs a proactive attitude and effort to build.
In his book “The Skilled Helper”, psychologist Gerald Egan shows which factors can hinder active listening. Trying to listen actively without being disturbed by the following factors will allow you to optimize the communication taking place between you and improve the relationship.
Be aware of these factors while you are the one being spoken to, to make sure you understand fully, but also while you are the one speaking, to make sure fruitful communication takes place and you are not wasting your time.
- External Factors
There could be distractions that impede your learning and understanding right now while reading this article. There could be noise, distractions, notifications from your smartphone or some physical comfort.
We can really only focus on one thing at a time. You mind, however, is prone to start wandering, which makes you lose focus.
The same can happen when you coach a client or give a public speech. As a speaker what you can do is intelligently play with the rhythm, volume, and speed of your words, to make it easier to keep the attention of who you are speaking to.
Be aware of those external factors for you and for others. Try to reduce them to the highest degree possible, but also train your focus and presence through meditation.
- Response Rehearsal
As opposed to the external world, there is the internal world.
You find yourself contemplating something someone said some time ago while she now speaks of something else.
Be able to let your thoughts go and fully listen. Also, don’t prepare what you are going to say, focus on fully understanding first and letting the other person finish first.
- Fact Finding
There is a difference between soaking in information as sheer facts and understanding the complete picture behind it. Don’t just find single facts or even imperfections in what the other person is saying, but focus on the overall picture and its application to the current situation. This includes body language and reading between the lines.
- Being Judgmental
It is easy to judge someone fast, without having fully heard their story and understood them.
Judgement puts a veil in front of your eyes, it makes your vision blurry. Ask yourself: How do you like being judged?
Don’t judge anybody: Remember the core belief that everybody has good intentions and assume that they only want good.
Understand that you don’t know anything in advance, because everyone is different. Fully listen to the story and always give the benefit of the doubt.
- Problem Solving
In coaching settings it’s not about solving people’s problems, it is about empowering people to take on responsibility and solve their problems on their own. You need to help them, guide them, be with them and give them the necessary tools to solve their problems.
When you try to solve the problem you get so distracted by your thoughts that you are not actually listening to what they are saying and miss the core message.
Listen fully and after understanding the bigger picture, provide words of wisdom, encouragement and if necessary accountability.
- Imposing Personal View
Assuming that your point of view regarding the situation is the only correct one, closes you up to the view and opinion of others. Focusing on your own opinion again prevents you from understanding the core message and seeing the bigger picture of a situation.
Plato had the following take on opinions/personal views:
“They are nothing more than a medium between truth and complete ignorance.“
Therefore, try to establish the truth about what holds others back and on what they really want by combing your points of view. This truth will be the fundament to work with and allow you to really help others.
On Learning Styles And Their Importance For Communication
There are three main learning styles:
- Visual: Preferring information in pictures, graphs or metaphors.
- Auditory: Preferring hearing information.
- Kinesthetic: Preferring to apply information hands-on as well as touch and feel new things.
Knowing your own learning styles helps to overcome bias when taking in information.
The information you take in is not necessarily bad, it is possible that it’s just not in your preferred learning style.
This will also help to understand others when communicating with them or teaching them. You need to be able to adjust to their learning style or at least provide a variation of how you communicate your information, in how you say, explain and show things.
Using metaphors is great to establish pictures in the head of the listeners, therefore, gets the point across well for visual learners.
In general, packing what you want to say in stories, is a good way to combine several aspects of expressing information.
Life coaching doesn’t have to have all the answers, but sometimes stories are enough to give people a spark of inspiration to enable them to overcome their problems on their own.
A Standard For Trying To Help Others
If you are someone that genuinely enjoys helping others and seeing them realize their full potential, it is highly possible that at some point you give unsolicited advice.
Sometimes, this advice is not only unsolicited but also falls on barren soil.
Therefore, keep in mind the principle of helping people:
“You can’t help anyone who is not willing to help themselves.
Sometimes you want to help others in something that you’ve overcome yourself but you want too much for them. They are not ready.
Show that you are open to help, but they need to take the first step for themselves.
How do you know you are not wasting your time when trying to help someone?
There is one ability that is crucial in communication.
It is the idea of discernment.
It can be defined as the ability to see things that others can’t see, but also to see and hear what others are not saying.
With this ability, you can set out to identify whether the person you are trying to help possesses the following traits, which will ensure that it is worth investing your time and energy.
People have to be open to receiving new information, ideas and perspectives. Fixed beliefs, stemming from fixed religious, political, societal or general world-views, can be the reason for not being open to different points of view and lead to automatic disagreement. If someone is not at all open, you are wasting your time.
The person needs to be able to make use of your information and be willing to apply it. A person can be open to your information, but if your seeds do not fall on fertile ground, meaning that there will be no change resulting from your advice, your help is not effective.
People have to appreciate your input, value your time and show that they don’t take it for granted what you do. This will make sure that you don’t burn out helping others and avoid feeling used.
Are people available for new input from their internal perspective? Are they focused on you and your advice or is their attention somewhere else? Some of the factors that impede learning described above could be the case.
How aware am I of the situation, myself and of the availability, self-awareness, and focus of my client? Only by being fully present and self-aware ourselves, can we assess how open, receptive, available and aware someone else is.
Being self-aware and present is the key to build healthy and strong relationships by allowing you to fully focus and listen.
After being aware of yourself you can fully pay attention to the other person. This will let you assess all other traits. Is our client paying attention to what you are trying to communicate?
Use these points as check boxes that have to be checked if you want to help someone.
This will ensure that your help is both efficient and effective and that both parties benefit from the relationship.
Fulfillment comes through what we give, not what we get.
Keep in mind, however, that the most valuable commodity are your time and full attention.
Fulfillment comes from knowing we invested our time wisely into someone who benefited from us and appreciated it.
On Perception and Reality
The key idea of NLP is that people never respond to reality, but only to their perception of reality, about what they think is going on.
We don’t see the world as it really is but how we perceive it to be. Hence the saying:
“Perception is everything.”
It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that our perceptions are the absolute truth about reality. But they are just perceptions of reality.
They are influenced by our beliefs, upbringing, and attitude about the world and reinforce them.
As your perceptions shape your beliefs, you need to be careful of what you let into your mind and how you react to it.
By carefully selecting the things that will form part of your perception, you can influence your beliefs and ultimately change your self-image.
A good starting point are the five core beliefs, as described above.
Implementing them into your life will change your perception about the world and enable you to better manage yourself and help others along the way.
This concludes the first part of this guide.
Head over to the second part, in which we dive deeper into the topics of Self-Awareness, Emotional Intelligence, Maturity, and others.
Until next time,
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