Gaye Kuelsen, PCC • July 11, 2023 • 5 Minute Read
PCC Marker 7: Evoking Awareness
Competency 7: Evokes Awareness
When evoking awareness, we are enabling our clients to gain new insights, knowledge or methods to move them forward in their lives. Greater awareness creates connections for better understanding and clarity towards what our client wants to achieve. This is where using a metaphor is most effective, helping our clients to explore a concept or situation, and crafting our questions in the context of the analogy.
7.1: Coach asks questions about the client, such as: their current way of thinking, feeling, values, needs, wants, beliefs or behavior.
The added element of our questions here is to evoke awareness for our clients to create those sought after ‘Aha!’ moments. As coaches, we can support our clients by offering observations and connections, then invite them to explore further. How often to you hear a client say they don’t know why they do something or keep repeating an unhelpful behaviour? Recently, a client shared with me a type of self-sabotage: she continually underestimated the time to do a task, which resulted in a last-minute panic to get it completed. However, she did not understand why she continued with this behaviour. Through our coaching conversation, she discovered a limiting belief: life must be difficult and a struggle. Her behaviour enabled her to prove herself right. With this new awareness and understanding, my client was able to take steps to change this behaviour.
7.2: Coach asks questions to help the client explore beyond the client’s current thinking or feeling to new or expanded ways of thinking or feeling about themself (the who).
To evoke awareness is to explore beyond our current thinking and to new frontiers. This PCC Marker relates to exploring our client’s inner-self, and how they exist in the world. It is important to keep the client’s context in mind and pose questions that are relevant to their background and situation. Our client’s internal way of existing, or being, may include: how they think, learn and create, how they feel, how they relate to others and what they value in life. A common question I ask my clients is: What have you learnt about yourself from our conversation today?
7.3: Coach asks questions to help the client explore beyond the client’s current thinking or feeling to new or expanded ways of thinking or feeling about their situation (the what).
In contrast, this PCC Marker explores our client’s outer world. This includes their dreams, aspirations and goals, as well as their barriers, difficulties and gaps they wish to close. Good questions to use here are about reframing or changing perspective. An effective example is to change from a negative to a positive perspective. Recently, I asked a client: What is the opposite to ‘not struggling’ for you? This question opened up a positive way to approach their situation
7.4: Coach asks questions to help the client explore beyond current thinking, feeling or behaving toward the outcome the client desires.
Directly related to the session outcome, this is a good time to check in with the client on their progress by asking: In what way is our conversation moving you towards your outcome of…? The client will articulate any learnings or progress they have noticed, and you both continue in that direction with your conversation. Alternatively, the client may state the conversation is totally off track, so you may ask: What do you need to know to move forward here? This gives your client the choice of where to focus next on their topic.
7.5: Coach shares – with no attachment – observations, intuitions, comments, thoughts or feelings, and invites the client’s exploration through verbal or tonal invitation.
We certainly create safety for our clients during a coaching session, and should remember it is a place of safety for us as well. The great revelation here is that we don’t have to be right! We can share what we are sensing or feeling, then invite the client to go deeper. If we are accurate, then an ‘Aha!’ moment may happen. But even if we are off beat, our comment may spark another connection for our client. Remember, your client may decline to explore further, so sometimes this is where a closed question may be most helpful if you sense some hesitancy or reluctance with your client. You may wish to ask: Do you think this may be worthwhile exploring? and require the client to simply reply with yes or no.
7.6: Coach asks clear, direct, primarily open-ended questions, one at a time, at a pace that allows for thinking, feeling or reflection by the client.
We are all tempted to stack our questions at times. This is a very common area for development for coaches. I may be repeating myself here (from previous editions) but this simple strategy works very effectively. We are all trained to give our clients pause and silence, so also give this to yourself. Pause, formulate your question in your mind, then deliver it. You will find your question will land more clearly and confidently for you. Here’s another tip: avoid too much preamble and keep your questions short and on-point.
7.7: Coach uses language that is generally clear and concise.
Keeping questions short and on-point supports this PCC Marker. When summarising, keep this Marker in mind and avoid being too verbose. With many of us coaching internationally, it is equally important to avoid using jargon or slang words and phrases in cases where English is the second (or third, etc.) language for a client. Although, it is fun when I discover a word or phrase unique to Australia that confounds my clients! One such occasion I was talking about ‘spruiking’. If you don’t know what this means, then ask me…
7.8: Coach allows the client to do most of the talking.
As coaches, we all understand that this is the client’s session and is all about them. So, it makes total sense that our clients will do most of the talking. Pay attention to their pace of speech, as some clients slow down when thinking hard, so increase the pause you take before responding. Also, when clients are talking so fast that they are not completing their thoughts and are hard to follow, then gently create a pause and share what you are noticing. Even suggesting to take a few breaths together may help your client settle into a more helpful rhythm.
Sharing these mentoring moments with you,