and welcome to the call; who's joined us? (participants
check in) This is Thomas Leonard. We've got about 25
people from the
School of Coaching on the line today. Our focus today
is on the first of the
15 Coaching Proficiencies, which is engaging in
provocative conversation. Susan Austin and I will be
engaging in some conversation; we'll also demonstrate some
of the ideas here.
The purpose of our call - we use the word 'provocative'
than 'evocative' in discussing this. I would summarize the
process as the 3 D's - the duh, the deep, and the
doubting. The first one I ask them, the "duh" question is
why there are problems in their life at all? I'm really
quite interested in my clients having no problems at all.
That really gets their attention; remember, most people
hire coaches to resolve their problems more quickly. The
2nd D is "deep". Often clients give us the surface story,
and I want to go deep fast, without having to probe or
push too hard to get to the truth as soon as I can. I do
care and empathize with the clients' symptoms and
situations, but if you can tell that they're ready to
engage, I go for the truth. I want to find it and I want
to help them find it as well.
"The first one I
ask them, the "duh" question is why there are
problems in their life at all?"
Susan: Can you give us an example of the 'deep'?
TJL: Why is this happening now? We'll go through some
more in the demo. The 3rd D is "doubting". I want to push
and make sure it really is true. I just don't accept
things as they sound; I push until it sounds true to me.
Often clients will come to you with the problem, and if
you accept it too soon, you might miss the real core of
the issue. I want to believe them and I want to believe my
own intuitive response. So, those are the 3 D's. An
example of that would be 'I hear what you're saying, but
it's not resonating with me' or 'Are you sure you believe
what you're saying?'; or "are you sure that's it, and if
so, how come?' Again, this is not a step that most coaches
do. Often clients aren't able to articulate what's really
Okay, so those are introductory comments. I'd like to open
it up for Q & A, and we'll work on some demos. First, any
questions or clarification?
Gail: The "duh" question - how do people take that?
TJL: Well, for the first time with the client, I would
say that one of the things I always ask my clients - you
don't want to be accusatory, but ask it innocently and
without guile. It may give you and the client something
really interesting to work on, rather than just the first
thing that was brought up. Often, you end up working on
something they didn't come to you for, but end up
providing much more value than thought.
Gail: That's really a powerful opening question.
TJL: It certainly gets their attention. It just levels
up the nature of the conversation very quickly.
Susan: And it certainly sets up that it's not just
chatting about your week.
TJL: Maybe one out of 3 sessions can be a pleasant
chat, but they usually want to get to work pretty fast. If
they know this is going to come up, it generates
excitement around the call. For the certified coach, this
is a level of play that fits the definition.
example of that would be 'I hear what you're saying,
but it's not resonating with me' or 'Are you sure
you believe what you're saying?'; or "are you sure
that's it, and if so, how come?'
Bob: If a client does come up with some idea of why
they have these problems, do you explore that or go on to
TJL: I usually ask them. That way, it's a way for you
to bring it up again; in most cases, they're so intrigued
that they can't wait to get into it. Rather than bringing
problems to you, they'll use you for creativity, win-win,
XXX: I can just hear some of my clients say, 'are you
saying you don't have any problems for yourself, coach?"
TJL: And that's where we get to walk the talk! (laugh)
it does let you share your own history and own story with
them, and that sets you up as a collaborative soul.
Valerie: It's so much a state of mind; what you're
really questioning is how to handle the sessions? It's
also a way - I don't see things in my life as problems.
TJL: It's a little tricky; there are problems or there
are opportunities. Some clients live in a world of no
problems; a certain reality check is important. The more
sophisticated clients have the framework to live in a
Valerie: Part of what you're doing also is shifting
away from complaining or freaking out about something
that's going on and becoming more resourceful.
TJL: I'm really, really big on commiseration; I think
it's one of the neatest coaching skills. If life is truly
a problem, I'm all there with them. There's a time and
place for the provocative conversation, and there are
times when it's not right.
really big on commiseration; I think it's one of the
neatest coaching skills. If life is truly a problem,
I'm all there with them.
I first read the proficiencies, I thought #15 needed to be
TJL: I never put them in a particular order; I just
wrote them. I'm thrilled that 15 is in spot #15. People
ask me how I put them in this order, and I didn't plan it
specifically this way.
Gail: And if you're showing it as a circle, it doesn't
really matter, doesn't it? I also had another thought I
wanted to share. When we get the client interested in
becoming a problem-free zone, a nice little formula that
helps you get there is PF + R + V, or personal foundation,
plus reserves, plus values.
TJL: Great; we're saying that with coaching, you're
really setting your life up to have fewer problems.
Thanks, Gail. Any other questions or comments?
Heidi: Regarding the "doubting' question - I do that a
lot; I usually do that, though, to be sure that the lack
of truthfulness is coming from the client, not from me.
Now, I have a problem with my client. What she's about to
do, I don't resonate at all with that - I'm not sure
whether it's my problem, or if she's just really off
TJL: Do you think that it's just not good for her, or
you wouldn't do it yourself?
Heidi: A bit of both, I think.
TJL: Another principle that I think would work is to
enjoy the client immensely. One thing I've learned the
hard way is that it's more interesting to enjoy my client,
rather than trying to determine the path the client should
take. It is their life, and I just want to support them in
the path that they've chosen. No, if they're hurting
themselves or others, I would make my concerns in writing
and drop them as a client. When I'm in doubt, I tell them
I can't see how this will help them, but ask them what I
can do to help. Let them give you some direction on how
you can support them. It takes the burden off of you to be
XXX: And you've left that door open to the coaching
TJL: Yes, thanks for that. Does that make sense, Heidi?
Heidi: Yes, it does. I do enjoy what she's doing. I
thought she would get to the point where it becomes clear
TJL: There are so many mysterious ways in which
positive results occur, and our clients are figuring that
stuff out every day. Adults are learning how to be
successful in their own way, and as long as they can
afford the risks they're taking, then hey - why not?
Judy: I think we have to remember that the client knows
what's best for them, and we just need to get out of the
TJL: Thanks, Judy. Anybody want to do a role play with
me? You can be your worst client or you can be yourself,
or share something in your personal life.
Judy: I am a client of yours; I'm 35 and I feel like no
one's going to love me and I don't do anything right. I've
done the Clean Sweep, and I won't give up sugar.
TJL: Are you setting me up for this or what? Just so
you know, I would never coach a client on their weight.
There are just certain things I wouldn't get near. If no
one loves me, I'm too heavy and I can't change, I just
wouldn't get involved with this client. Does anybody have
a question on what I just said? There are certain clients
I just don't have enough RAM or CPU in this lifetime to
support. There are just some conversations that shouldn't
XXX: Thomas, could some day you do a class on that?
TJL: Who to coach and not to coach?
TJL: I'll make a note of that.
Bob: There are coaches I've seen in the referral
service that do take on clients with weight problems, and
I'm assuming they're nutritionists, or something.
TJL: Yes. And there was more than just the weight thing
- the "no one loves me" issue is really big.
XXX: When Judy presented this scenario, I got a
tightness in my chest.
TJL: Right. We're going to move on - can I get someone
else to give us a more traditional coaching client?
Rob: I'll play. I've been so disorganized lately, and I
don't even know which way to go. I think I need a coach to
get me moving again.
TJL: What's going on?
Rob: I have an entirely new assistant, having lost the
old one, and things are really unorganized right now.
TJL: Tell me what you're behind in.
Rob: I've got a backlog of calls to make, and paperwork
TJL: Give me a sense of how significant the problem is
- how many hours? If you had 2 weeks to catch up, you'd
catch up, but…. You're stuck?
Rob: Yes, I'm behind on the homefront as well as the
TJL: Has this happened before?
Rob: I think I've been on track for the last 3 months,
and then I hit a bump in the road. I'm not sure what it's
TJL: What's the source of that?
Rob: I'm not really sure.
TJL: So you've got tons of stuff going on, and you're
not really ready for it?
Rob: I hadn't thought about it, but that's probably
TJL: So you want to work on the structures in your
TJL: That's going to take more than 90 days. I don't
know whether this is the right time for you to take to get
caught up and as well as find a permanent solution.
Rob: I just want to feel like I'm getting caught up and
want to work on finding a permanent solution.
TJL: Can I ask - do you like being behind a little bit?
Rob: I am to the place where I'd like to have a less
expensive way of getting energy.
TJL: So you're looking to get energy from a cleaner,
less toxic source?
Rob: I do, but I just don't know where to begin.
TJL: Where would you use me to help you with this?
Rob: To identify the systems that I could put in place.
TJL: Okay, so we could spend the next 3 or 4 calls
working through what you want to organize, and then go
from there. We'll stop right there. How was that helpful?
Rob: I wasn't sure exactly what you were doing, but I
figured out you were pulling me out of the problem and
into the solution and that made it feel much lighter
fairly quickly. Also, when you talked to me about what I
TJL: Great, that's what we did, but how was that
Rob: I became aware of other options, and already got
me thinking and moving towards something else. I think the
huge thing for me was that I didn't feel a judgment in
TJL: Just so you know, that place is the big place to
get to. Often, coaches feel grips in their chest because
they're behind, and feel the need to catch up through you.
It's a good way to test how clean the coach is. Let's go
around the room here - what did you hear?
Bob: I think I heard all 3 D's in there.
TJL: Good; thank you for that, Bob. Who else heard
XXX: I heard you very clearly set up the framework for
the upcoming coaching calls.
TJL: Good - I'm glad you heard that. For a client
that's in overwhelm, a coaching call is just another
source. I wanted to make sure the client understood that
we're going to be talking about systems on the calls,
rather than just having him call and report in on what
he's done or not done.
Susan: I think it's great - you seemed to get right to
the root of it, and could then spend the rest of the call
starting to work on it.
I quickly turned
it as fast as I could to the "who". ...that
made it personal to the person, rather than keeping
it from separate from them. I wanted to say 'it's
about you', without actually saying that.
TJL: Where would you have dug in?
Susan: I would've gotten lost in the problem he was
having. I would have gotten deep into the problem, rather
than just trusting that, and moving on from there.
TJL: What would you now do differently?
XXX: For me, I would just - what you did was, you got
him to show the reality. There's a difference between
knowing everything you need to know, or thinking to ask
all these questions that will give you what you need to
Heidi: I probably would've gone more into the levels,
and I appreciated you jumping up about 5 levels and
getting to the heart of the matter.
TJL: The one thing that softens the drill bit here is
that I quickly turned it as fast as I could to the "who".
I pretty quickly brought in the idea that he gets his
energy from adrenaline. That made it personal to the
person, rather than keeping it from separate from them. I
wanted to say 'it's about you', without actually saying
Gail: I think when he said that it all felt
overwhelming and he didn't know what to do next, I
would've probably started talking about priorities.
TJL: And that's what you would still do or that was
Gail: I would probably still do this, along with some
of what you're doing.
TJL: And that works on the matter of personal taste on
the part of the coach. I find it I ask the clients to
prioritize with me on the phone, it puts pressure on them.
Often, it's the small things that need to get fixed first,
and they may not seem like a priority.
Gail: If the call isn't until next week, are they going
to wait until next week to do anything about it, then?
TJL: They've been waiting for weeks already. If they're
going to tell you that they're 2 weeks behind, they're
probably 6 weeks behind. That's a way to weave in things
that matter, rather than trying to prioritize.
Valerie: I was struck by the process of, while you were
getting them clear, you were also educating them at the
TJL: Engaging them in provocative conversations sounds
generic, but if we can do that, we can go deeply fairly
quickly. I'd like to hear from you what you got out of
XXX: I like the notion that the coach isn't the fairy
godmother, but you are support, and it's going to take
TJL: Great; who else?
Gail: I just loved the idea that this went right to the
heart of the matter so quickly. I loved that!
TJL: Thank you all very much! I appreciate your
contributions. Bye now!
end of transcript
Thank you to
the GSC members who participated in the live calls!
NOTE: The full set of
15 Coaching Proficiencies is
available in an archived issue of Today's Coach for your
reference, at this link: http://www.todayscoach.com/2002/032702/default.html
CoachVille.com 2002. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Distribution
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