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Why Coaching by Phone is Better Than Coaching in Person

Posted by Julia Stewart

Business Coaching by PhoneI finally have an answer for you to the age-old question: Which is more effective, coaching by telephone or coaching in person?

The coaches who prefer coaching in person, invariably assume their way is better. Those of us who prefer to coach by telephone sheepishly counter that coaching by phone seems to work just as well.

But is telephone coaching really just as good as coaching face-to-face?

After all, we've all read the scientific estimates that up to 90% of the information we receive in a face-to-face conversation is visual, not verbal. So how can telephone coaching possibly work as well as face-to-face coaching?

And from another perspective, face-to-face coaches often brag that they make more money per hour, but do they really? Yes, telephone coaches charge their clients on average slightly less per contact hour, but they also spend less time in non-contact hours.

I'll explain: while I don't recommend scheduling your clients back-to-back (a 15 minute break helps you refocus), I've done it and I know lots of other phone coaches who do it and I can tell you that a few hours, earning $300/hour, from my home office on a snowy Monday sure beats traffic jams, commuter trains, crowded elevators and cafeteria lunches, ad nauseum, by a mile. And when you add up the extra time spent in transit, plus tolls, tickets, parking, gas, wardrobe, wear and tear on your car, eating out, not to mention all of the above which also has to be spent on in-person client attraction, versus attracting clients via the internet, I'm willing to bet telephone coaches make more per hour and enjoy more of their working hours with less stress.

But here's why telephone coaching is actually more effective than face-to-face coaching:

Remember how up to 90% of information taken in during a face-to-face conversation is visual? That should make face-to-face coaching 10 times more effective than telephone coaching, but it doesn't. Why? Because nearly all of that visual information is unconscious, meaning the coach isn't even aware of it.

It gets worse. Many assume that our brains absorb continuous information, like video cameras  making a movie, but they don't. Not even close. Your brain takes a couple of snapshots of visual information and fills in (nearly all) the rest with your expectations, assumptions, beliefs, shadows, biases and prejudices. In short, while you're talking to that person, you're taking in some new information from them, but you're unconsciously adding 80-90 times as much information from your past.

And you don't even know it.

With telephone coaching, if you're well-trained, you learn to consciously hear more. And if you practice those hearing skills in hundreds of coaching sessions, you develop the kind of hearing - at least for conversations - that usually only the blind possess, meaning you hear far more than most of us ever thought possible. And you do it without adding tons of info from your past.

Are telephone coaches completely free of their past assumptions? No of course not; no one is. But a strong case can be made that, because telephone coaching is a skill that's consciously learned from the ground up, the coach is aware of a larger percentage of incoming information, which helps them interface more fully with the present and the uniqueness of their client and the client's situation.

Here's an example: I've lost track over the years of the number of clients I've coached who were of a different race, socio-economic background, or sexual orientation, and I didn't know it. I'd like to think that wouldn't make any difference (unless it was pertinent to the topic of the coaching), but I've seen the studies on that and know how unlikely it is that anyone is completely free of biases.

Telephone coaching doesn't eliminate all assumptions and biases, but it narrows them down and makes it less likely that a bias or shadow can lurk undiscovered.

Here's another reason coaching by phone is more powerful: When using the telephone (or Skype), you can coach with anyone in the world. That means that out of over 7 billion people worldwide, you can match up with your ideal clients and be their perfect coach. Coaching in person is almost always constrained by distance and travel, forcing people to coach with whomever they can find in their home city.

You'd think with the ease and low cost of talking via online video, that video coaching would catch on quickly, but it hasn't so far. I'm guessing it's because video tends to highlight the visual in a way that makes it even harder to listen and really hear - and raises the likelihood that unconscious visual information is triggering a conditioned response. I find video coaching more distracting than anything.

Last but not least, from the client's perspective, lower prices for telephone coaching, plus higher quality coaching, means a greater ROI (return on investment) for clients. Who doesn't like that?

In short: phone coaching is not only just as good as in-person coaching, it's actually better. Do you agree?

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Topics: coaching business, Coaching, money, coach training, Coaches, coaching clients, coach, clients, coaching call, phone coaching

Best Coaching Films: How NOT to Coach

Posted by Julia Stewart

 Best Coaching Films

 

Article by David Papini and Julia Stewart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia: Below is the winning entry in the Best Coaching Films Contest. I chose it, not because it was the best example of coaching, but because it was presented in a thorough manner that made it easy for David Papini and me to analyze it, which we were interested in doing. In that sense, it's an awesome entry and it provides a terrific opportunity to disect something that sounds like coaching, but actually isn't. At least it's not very good coaching. See if you agree.

You may or may not be surprised to know that the character of John Keating, in Dead Poet’s Society, is not an example of a good coach. Yes, he opens up new worlds for his students, something that great coaches do, but he is burdened by enormous assumptions and a huge agenda, which leads him to a crucial conversation with Neil Perry and may have helped cause Perry’s later suicide. Not a desirable outcome in coaching!


Actually, this film is a wonderful example of what happens when Values Systems collide. It ain’t pretty. The parents and teacher’s are all of the modern values system: rational, materialistic, conforming. Think: Business Executives. (And read Spiral Dynamics or take our Spiral Dynamics for Coaches course, if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) Keating’s values are post-modern: creative, individualistic, passionate. Think: Hippies.

There is nothing wrong with either system, but in evolutionary terms, post-modern comes after modern, which makes it more inspiring (that’s just how it works). Keating and his student’s assume that ‘inspiring’ is better. However, the only thing that makes one Values System better than another is whether it solves your problems best.


The film, itself, is passionate and can inspire and trigger the viewers’ own adolescent memories of struggling to become authentic while being pushed and bullied to conform by parents and teachers. But for one very sensitive, vulnerable, conflicted boy, Neil Perry, who is the ‘client’ in the following ‘coaching’ session, this schism presents a problem so overwhelming, he pays the ultimate price.


David: I think that here Keating is not coaching Neil, he is more trying to help him as parent would do. One of the risks of a “parenting” coach model is that parenting brings with itself not just love and care but it is also prone to confusion between parent’s needs and child’s needs.  This kind of confusion has an evolutionary advantage, because maximizes the chances that a parent will take care of her children as if they were herself, but it is not that useful when your goal is to foster someone else’s freedom of choice.


In terms of technique, Keating here uses more the tools of a tutor or mentor. All the relationship is with Keating ‘up’ and Neil ‘down’. No doubt, Keating cares about Neil’s greatness, but he fails in checking and validating if the change that he is pushing Neil through is ecological for all Neil’s parts. Working with all the parts (for example with NLP) and allowing all of them to show what their good intention was and to foster dialogue among them, could have been useful to Neil.

Read on to see why a coach’s assumptions and agenda can cause a client his very life... 

John Keating Coaching Neil Perry:

Coaching Conversation

Analysis

Neil Perry: I just talked to my father. He's making me quit the play at Henley Hall. Acting's everything to me. I- But he doesn't know! He- I can see his point; we're not a rich family, like Charlie's. We- But he's planning the rest of my life for me, and I- He's never asked me what I want!

David: Here Neil shows he is aware of what is really important to him and also he is capable of understanding his father’s reasons and he is also aware that his father is not recognizing him as a person capable of choice

Julia: Neil’s dilemma is fairly typical of a coaching client’s presenting problem, even though his is the perspective of a minor. His story is highly emotional and full of assumptions. He’s genuinely stuck. 

John Keating: Have you ever told your father what you just told me? About your passion for acting? You ever showed him that?

David: Keating clarifies, acknowledge Neil’s passion and invite the possibility for Neil to share more with his father

Julia: Great coaching question from Keating. It not only elicits important information, but points to a possibly more resourceful response to Neil’s problem. 

Neil Perry: I can't.

David: Neil is facing a block.

Julia: This is a typical response from someone who is stuck. There is no physical reason that he can’t talk to his father, but he believes he can’t.

John Keating: Why not?

David: Keating poses an ineffective question. He could have asked about Neil feelings (how does it feel that you cannot share with your father) or add resources (what would you need to be able to tell him). The “why” question here seems to hide Keating’s agenda or a tutorial question (I know you can and I want you realize that). Keating here is acting like a parent, a tutor, a mentor or a friend more than a coach.

Julia: I agree with David. Questions that begin with ‘why’ tend to invite rationalization from the client, which just deepens the story and the client’s sense of having no options.

To open Neil’s mind to more options and resourceful thinking, Keating could try the following questions:

‘What would it be like if you could talk about this with your father?’

‘What would you tell him, if you could?’

‘Would you like to be able to talk with him about what’s really important to you?’

Neil Perry: I can't talk to him this way.

David: Neil is still blocked but adds “this way”.

Julia: Neil doesn't have the words to articulate what's holding him back, he just knows he's stuck.

John Keating: Then you're acting for him, too. You're playing the part of the dutiful son. Now, I know this sounds impossible, but you have to talk to him. You have to show him who you are, what your heart is!

David: Coach here had the opportunity to clarify (for example asking “what way”?). Keating choses to challenge and show Neil his intuition (“You’re acting for him, too”), without asking for permission to share. Then uses all of his influence to push Neil toward the behavior he considers appropriate (he asks Neil to do something that seems impossible to Neil and possible to the idea that Keating has of Neil’s strength and of Neil’s relationship system). Keating shows love for Neil but it’s not a loving coach act, again, it’s more a mentor’s or a tutor’s action, who sees the reality of his pupil’s behavior

Julia: Agreed. Although Keating's aware of Neil's assumption, he's not aware of his own. He's pushing Neil toward the outcome that Keating believes in. Neil needs to decide what’s best for himself. Even though Keating is a mentor/instructor to this young man, he’s over-stepping his professional boundaries. This would be considered unethical in coaching. The fact that Neil later commits suicide is strong evidence that this conversation didn’t serve him. 

Neil Perry: I know what he'll say! He'll tell me that acting's a whim and I should forget it. They're counting on me; he'll just tell me to put it out of my mind for my own good.

David: Neil is still blocked. His options are not increased, he is still trapped in a scene he already knows.

Julia: Neil is quite naturally resisting the push that Keating gives him. Most coaching clients will push back in similar ways when pressured by their coaches. 

John Keating: You are not an indentured servant! It's not a whim for you, you prove it to him by your conviction and your passion! You show that to him, and if he still doesn't believe you - well, by then, you'll be out of school and can do anything you want.

David: Keating acknowledge the genuineness and the importance of Neil ‘s passion, but again offer to him solutions that do not come from Neil himself and assumes that proving the passion to the father will be useful for Neil (implicitly reinforcing the idea that the father has to decide). Also the second option (you can do what you what when you leave school) is completely part of Keating mindset. Here Keating is consulting (giving advices) and/or leading (ordering). The coaching part could have been the first one, if the sentence finished with “it’s not a whim for you”. On another  layer of thought here there could be also that Keating is fighting with Neil’s father (what Neil’s father represents to Keating), by using Neil as means. Keating here is acting like Neil’s father, forgetting that Neil already have one that tells him what to do. The fact that the real father is not capable of loving Neil enough, does not authorize Keating to use a father role as a way to take care of Neil’s needs, especially without acknowledging the conflict that will rise in Neil’s emotions.

Julia: Keating is pushing his own Values System on Neil, something that he did throughout the film, with mixed results for the boys. He awakened something inspiring in them, but assumed parents and teachers would value it. They didn’t, which created conflict for all the boys.

By the way, Keating’s Value System is Green, or post-modern, in integral terms. The school and parents were mostly operating at the Blue/Orange, or traditional-modern level, which does not understand Green. Post-moderns typically make this mistake, that everyone will see the wisdom of their view, if just given the chance. They won’t.

Again, this is unethical in coaching. Don’t make this mistake for your own clients.

Neil Perry: No. What about the play? The show's tomorrow night!

David: Neil assumes for a moment the second Keating’s suggestion and confronts it with the practical short term consequences, and has a doubt.

Julia: More resistance in response to being inappropriately pushed.

John Keating: Then you have to talk to him before tomorrow night.

David: Keating provides the answer, completely in the frame of his agenda (Neil must talk with his father)

Julia: If Keating were a good coach, someone who cares more for others than for his own agenda, he would have elicited options from Neil and respected them. Or at the very least, offered multiple options, rather than telling Neil what to do. 

Neil Perry: Isn't there an easier way?

David: Neil asks for a way to avoid something he fears.

Julia: Keating would do well to respect the wisdom behind Neil’s reluctance.

John Keating: No.

David: Keating acknowledges the fear (by non-verbal cues, need to see the scene ;-) but keeps Neil on the decision (which is not Neil’s decision). If Neil’s fear had arrived after a personal insight or search path, this could be an appropriate way to keep the client on track, but given the previous choices made by Keating in the conversation, it’s just another way to push Neil to realize Keating’s agenda (which of course Keating considers an agenda for the good as Neil’s father does with his one, and this is often the tragedy…)

Julia: Rather than eliciting greatness from Neil and helping him expand his possibilities, Keating’s ‘coaching’ arrives at one very narrow and unproductive option.

Neil Perry: [laughs] I'm trapped!

David: Neil is emotionally trapped (and desperate)

Julia: Neil is between a rock and a hard place, with his father’s values on one side and Keating’s on the other. As a teenager, he hasn’t yet developed the  strength to think for himself and has allowed Keating to back him into a corner. Some adult coaching clients are also this easy to influence. Coaches need to be extremely careful not to make decisions for our clients. We never have all the information. We’re only there to help the client think better and to inspire their personal greatness.

John Keating: No you're not.

David: Keating does not acknowledge the emotions in Neil, and underlines that Neil is free.

Julia: Yes, in Keating’s mind, Neil is free, but only IF Neil does what Keating tells him. This is an obvious contradiction, common to post-modern thinking. It’s all about a specifically defined form of liberation that is ultimately repressive: ‘You’re free if you do what I tell you to do.’

Post-modern thinking is common among coaches, but often results in narrow thinking. My personal bias is that post-modern thinking has limited value in coaching.

 

Topics: Coaching, Coaches, coaching clients, coach, How to, clients, Spiral Dynamics, coaching call, David Papini

Marketing and Sales: Nice Girls Don’t (Nice Coaches Don’t, Either)

Posted by Julia Stewart

Nice girl?If there's one thing that makes some coaches (OK, a lotta coaches, especially new ones) feel kinda squeamish, icky, or dirty; it's marketing and sales. Makes you feel like you did when those snotty, dirty boys pulled your dress up on the playground. You're not that kinda girl!

Okay, I'm being a little silly here, but if that's how you feel, it can get in the way of your success, Big Time. Unless of course, someone else is signing your clients on for you! So let's see if you can shift your perspective, here.

Gosh, where to begin with this issue? Let's look at why coaches feel this way to begin with. So what are all the reasons you've ever felt funny about selling? Please reflect on that. Make a list. Here are some I've heard about:

  • You were raised to be modest
  • You don't want to look pushy
  • You don't want to seem self-serving
  • You don't want to have an agenda
  • You don't want to be greedy

Hmm...notice the word all those phrases begin with?

YOU.

Yeah, ouch! There you go, worrying about yourself instead of focusing on the client! Oddly enough, when you're busy worrying about your modesty, you're ego is getting in your way. (And don't bother re-writing your list of reasons. Regardless of how you worded them, I can virtually guarantee that your objections to selling are ego-based, unless you honestly believe coaching is sleazy, in which case, why are you coaching?)

Your ego doesn't belong in a coaching call.

You probably already knew that, but how do you get your focus off yourself, onto the client, and still make a sale? Well, it's easy, once you get it AND until you get it, it's impossible!

Let's look at why you became a coach, in the first place. You may want to make another list. Here are some possible reasons:

  • You want to help people
  • You have a gift in this area
  • You've done a lot of work on yourself and you want to share it
  • You want to change the world

Well, these are pretty noble reasons and you may have noticed that there's a lot of "You" in there, again. But, what if you took "You" out?

  • Help people
  • Share gifts
  • Change the world

The noble stuff is still there and the phrases get more active. And your stuff is gone. If you're not in the picture, then your modesty, how you want to look and be, don't even matter anymore. The focus is off you and onto the action. Now you're ready to take action and make it all about the client.

I'm not just playing word games here; this is real.

If "you" didn't exist in a selling conversation, who would the conversation be about? The client, of course. Whose needs would matter? Whose finances, etc.? Does this person need a coach? Maybe. Do they want one for free? Probably not, because healthy, well-functioning people - the kind who make good clients - don't want handouts. They might even feel uncomfortable and say "No" if you insisted on coaching them for free. (The client, by the way, gets to show up to the session with all their ego stuff. It's you who needs to park it.)

Most clients will feel better about coaching with you if you let them pay you what coaching is worth to them. So that's the money thing.

And then there's the rejection thing. If you're worried about it, then it's your ego again. Strangely enough, clients worry about rejection, too. That's why making an invitation is so important. If you're doing a complimentary session with someone who sounds like your ideal client, park your fear of rejection and make an offer. Otherwise, you may be denying the other person a beautiful opportunity to grow and have a new life. Get yourself out of the way and find out if they're ready to take a chance. Often, all they need is an invitation from you.

Good coach marketing and selling is just clean above-board communication and relationship building.

Think about it. Part of being authentic is communicating honestly about who you are. That's integrity. If coaching is in integrity with your authentic self, then communicating about the gifts you have to offer the world as a coach, is part of your authenticity. If you're refusing to market and and unwilling to make a sale, a.k.a. communicate honestly and make invitations, then you're out of integrity. Your ego is in the way. Nobody is served.

So if you feel uncomfortable with marketing and sales, I have a tongue-in-cheek suggestion for you: Stop thinking dirty. Start taking actions that help more people experience the benefits of coaching. In other words, fill up your coaching practice!

Come on! You'll still respect yourself in the morning!

This is a theme we visit again and again in Coach 100, but especially in C100 classes #5 &6, "Successful Complimentary Sessions, Part I & II", and class #11, "I Hate to Market!"

Copyright, 2005, 2006, Julia Stewart

Photo by Skirt Girl Monica at Flickr Commons

Topics: Coach 100, marketing and sales, ego, coaching call, communication

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