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Heart Coach Institute

Heart Coach Institute Director of Education

Gaye Kuelsen, PCC • September 6, 2023 • 5 Minute Read

Unveiling the Distinction: Coaching Topic vs. Outcome - Unlocking Their Unique Significance

Imagine this scenario: You’re about to start a coaching session, and when your client turns on their camera, you immediately notice how tired and drained they look. Despite exchanging greetings, their lack of energy is unmistakable. As the session begins, you encourage them to open up and share their topic, and they express their desire to find a new job. After asking some clarifying questions, you embark on the coaching journey with your client. This experience serves as a powerful reminder that our coaching efforts must start right from the very first interaction.

As coaches with our unique approach, we have a few favourite questions to help our clients open up and share their topic. Some of my go-to questions include:

  • What’s on your mind?
  • What are you bringing to our session today?
  • What would be most useful to talk about today?
  • What will we explore together during our session?

Through these questions, you can guide your client to become aware of what they want to achieve through the coaching conversation. It’s important to note that there is a distinction between the topic of the conversation and the desired outcome. Although they are connected, they are not the same. When a client expresses their desire to find a new job, there are various paths the conversation can take. This is where determining the outcome becomes crucial, as it provides both you and the client with a clear endpoint for the conversation. Here are some questions that can help the client clarify their desired outcome:

  • What do you want to know by the end of our conversation?
  • How do you want to feel at the end of our session?
  • What specific question do you want answered today?

Defining the outcome also allows the client to establish a measure of success that they can evaluate. This measure can be a scale from 1 to 10 or an action plan, depending on the nature of the outcome.

The outcome also involves applying the knowledge gained from the coaching conversation in practical ways. Both the coach and the client explore the process of finding a new job, including the challenges and different perspectives involved. Armed with this understanding, the client can decide how they want to proceed based on the insights gained. By identifying triggers, challenges, and creating strategies, the client can determine their next steps and how they wish to respond.

To ensure we stay curious and avoid projecting our own triggers, judgments, or assumptions onto the client’s situation, we continue to ask questions that deeply explore their experience. This allows the client to develop their own awareness and think more deeply about their desired path. It’s natural to feel tempted to provide our own opinions or have clients ask us for advice. However, it’s important to maintain the coaching space and keep asking curious questions, enabling the client to uncover their own awareness.

What are your thoughts on the difference between the coaching topic and the outcome? How do you help clients distinguish between the two?


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