Imagine being a client for a moment. You have chosen to seek the help of a coach to improve the quality of some area of your life or work. No doubt you did some research, established some idea of the kind of coaching you want and made an appointment. If you have used coaching before, you have a description, which may or may not be similar to what you are about to experience now. If you are a first timer, you may know of elements of hearsay or client anecdotes from others. One way or another you have acquired preconceptions about coaching which may contribute or detract from the experience you are about to have.
Now, step into the coach’s experience. You are a practicing NLP coach with certain presuppositions about coaching, NLP and what makes some comments relevant and others not so. With established clients, you have a relationship based on experience, results and credibility. These clients will follow your requests to create scenarios marked in different places on the floor, elicit their own intuitive responses and imagine anything you ask. They will even discover new experiences by stepping into the future from a recently defined outcome and they will not expect you to give advice.
New clients will be inducted into your way of working, either quickly and seamlessly if they appreciate what you are about, or over a session or two by their own evidence that what you do works. Some people take longer to settle than others and you can use your own intuitive signals to gauge how straight or imaginative looking a process you can offer a particular client at any time.
I had a client who started out linear, business oriented and wanted to be more effective as a leader. She made it clear that trust would be the reward of proof and required conscious understanding of anything I asked – in the first session. With this type of request, it is useful to be a trainer as well as a coach. I framed everything I asked her and deconstructed it after she had learned something. Then I was able to work with her unconscious mind without naming it. Rapport developed into trust over the next two sessions as she discovered value she had not expected at work.
By the fourth session, she was open to unconventional requests and deferred framing. I was game to teach her to use internally generated communication signals. Her immediate response was: “This is amazing. Why didn’t you teach me this before”? I told her I had not felt sure enough of my standing to do it earlier and invited her to compare her experience of the first session with now. She got the point. Think about those times you wish you felt able to initiate something and what was already in place when you could.
I continue to frame my working, usually retrospectively, even when the relationship no longer requires it. Clients get the benefit of the process first and can then follow it later for their own use. This adds value to coaching, as the client not only learns how to approach a topic of immediate interest to them, but how to run a similar process on other content as well.
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