Coaching Blog

Positive Psychology Coaching: How Flow Appears In Coaching Sessions

Posted by Julia Stewart

Flow by VANCUSO

Have you ever participated, as a coach or client, in a coaching session when both the coach and client got on a wave length together that resulted in incredible insights and progress? After which, the client probably felt the coach did something amazing, while the coach may have felt s/he barely did anything, at all. If so, you may have experienced a "group flow" state.

Individuals go into flow states when they use their strengths in challenging situations, but groups of two or more people can also create group flow under specific circumstances. During flow, people are unusually creative, often feel that guidance is coming from without, and they may lose track of time. To learn more about flow, watch this TED video of positive psychology pioneer, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (rhymes with 'chick sent me high'), who coined the term, Flow.

Creativity researcher, R. Keith Sawyer, wrote a fascinating article on group flow for the Greater Good Science Center, based on his study of jazz ensembles and comedians. I've adapted his ideas here to describe the conditions that can foster group flow during a coaching session.

Conditions that promote flow during coaching:

1. A shared goal. In great coaching, both client and coach have a shared intention of moving the client towards achieving an important goal. To do this, the coach needs to let go of any personal goals s/he has to provide value, look smart, or get the client to do what s/he thinks is best. The coach also needs to create a safe, trusted environment for the client.

2. Engaged listening. Both coach and client need to listen deeply to themselves and to each other, putting aside preconceived notions about how the goal should be reached and checking in with each other frequently to make sure they are still on the same page. The coach takes the initiative here, modeling listening with intent, which can trigger the client to do the same. The coach also triggers deep engagement by asking awareness-building questions.

3. Forward motion. Acknowledgment, curiosity, and positivity all keep the session moving forward even when neither the coach nor the client knows exactly where they're headed. This means moving from "Yeah, but" thinking to "Yes, and" thinking, while remaining genuinely curious and avoiding judgments and closed-ended questions that can stop forward movement.

4. Undivided attention. Both coach and client need to be in private, non-distracting environments so they can attend fully to the shared present-moment conversation. Email, smart phones, other people and more can all derail a great coaching session.

5. Freedom and autonomy. Coach and client are equal partners who believe in each other, because the client needs the freedom to be exactly who he is while coaching. Flow emerges when they trust and respect one another enough for the client to find the answers that truly work best for him. 

6. Supportive egos. Sometimes it seems as though the coach and client think together with one mind for a few minutes. To do so, they both need their egos present, but not running the show. Trying to get rid of the ego leads to dysfunction, but too much ego just gets in the way. To move egos aside, trust must be strong enough for coach and client to experience moments of intimacy.

7. Equal partnership. Coaching is different from most professions in that it is an equal partnership between the professional and client. The coach doesn't fix or advise and the client doesn't need to be healed by the coach. This equality fosters full participation by the client, which leads to resourcefulness, resilience and greatness.

8. Unspoken understandings. Coach and client need to reveal just enough information about themselves that they feel sufficiently known by one another. This implicit knowing allows communication to jump ahead quickly, rather than consume time with polite posturings. Hours, weeks, or even months of processing can take place within minutes.

9. Spontaneous conversation. The coach needs to let go of the coaching models and structures s/he learned in coaching school and just coach from the hip, so to speak. While the client needs also to let go and allow flow to occur. That's one of the many reasons why practice and mastery are essential for the coach and why an excellent fit between coach and client makes such a big difference.

10. Risk. Both coach and client need to be willing to fail in order for flow to show up. If they play it safe, many of the above conditions will evaporate. The coach must be willing to explore the unknown even if it means asking cringe-worthy questions, while the client needs to be courageous enough to answer honestly. There is no other way to find the best outcomes. 

The above conditions don't happen automatically. The coach needs to know how to create trust and safety, while navigating the energy of the coaching conversation, in order to create this transpersonal experience. But when done well, coaching is often awe-inspiring.

Want to learn more about coaching and flow? Join the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program or download the CPPC Fact Sheet below.

 

Get Certified Positive Psychology Coach Fact Sheet

Photo by VANKUSO

Topics: coaching clients, coaching questions, greatness, Certified Positive Psychology Coach, Positive Psychology, positive psychology coaching, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow

Great Coaching Questions: What Are They and When Do You Use Them?

Posted by Julia Stewart

The important this is to not stop questioning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What scientists and coaches have in common is curiosity and a need to ask the right questions. Wrong questions elicit the wrong data, or insights, goals, actions, results. 

The right questions literally create new realities, when asked at the right times.

View a list of 101 Incredible Coaching Questions here.

View an infographic on how and when to ask coaching questions here.

Ask your own questions. Join the next live Q&A class:

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Topics: coaching questions, curiosity

How to Ask Great Coaching Questions Infographic

Posted by Julia Stewart

One of our most popular blog posts is 101 Incredible Coaching Questions.

Another is 101 Terrific Positive Psychology Coaching Questions. The thing is, the best coaching questions won't be effective unless you know when and how to ask them. Of course, we teach all the fine points of that at School of Coaching Mastery. And although a few tips won't make you a good coach, this infographic (my 1st-ever original infographic) will help you take that list of 101 coaching questions and start to turn them into some actual coaching. Be sure to check out the options below for next steps toward becoming a professional coach. Some of them are free.

How to ask great coaching questions 

Want to practice coaching? Join our Facebook Page to find coaching buddies. Or join a free study group.

 

Want to learn much more about coaching and become a great coach?

 

We offer coach training that is evidence based because people evolve and so does coaching. Here are our two main programs:

 

Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program offers up to 210 hours of training that will take you from beginner to master coach. Let the power of positive psychology help you coach your clients to success! Take the entire program or take just one course. Get certified by the International Association of Positive Psychology Coaches.

 

Certified Neuroscience Coach Program offers up to 125 coach training hours informed by research into neuroscience. Take all of this fascinating program or just one course!

 

Not ready for coach training but want to learn a bit more now?

 

Download the FREE Become a Positive Psychology Coach eBook. Learn about evidence-based coaching and how to get started in this exciting profession! Click the button below:

 

Get Your FREE Positive Psychology Coach eBook

 

Topics: School of Coaching Mastery, coaching questions, How to, positive psychology coaching, IAPPC

Coaching Tip: Is the Truth Really a Question?

Posted by Julia Stewart

As a coach, you probably believe in powerful questions. And as TEDEd speaker, Michael Stevens, demonstrates, powerful questions make all the difference in teaching, too. In fact, questions such as, "How much does a video weigh?" and "What color is a mirror?" have made his Vsauce channel popular with millions. They foster curiosity, because most folks have never considered these quirky questions before.

Is there such a thing as unanswerable questions? Stevens can answer the above questions with science. But coaches are simply looking for clarity, inspiration and action, rather than actual answers. Or are we? 

Sometimes an unanswerable question expands awareness. When tapping into a client's Higher Self, for instance, I'll ask, "What color is it?" and "Where is it located?", questions that don't make logical sense, because the Higher Self isn't a physcial thing. But my clients step into the present moment, along with their intuition, as they attempt to answer my questions and that's the whole point.

My favorite quirky question is "Is the truth really a question?" Coaches intuitively feel the answer is, "Yes." But it can't be, because "Yes." isn't a question. So the logical answer is, "No." But this question invites us to step out of linear logic into a broader, deeper way of thinking.

So then what's the answer? My favorite answer is the coach-y, "What do you think?" Which is all I care about. But the most concise answer is, "Yes?" Which embodies the perfect attitude to bring to a coaching session: open, positive, curious and affirmative.

Watch Michael Stevens for more on quirky questions:


 

Interested in great coaching questions? Check out the following blog posts:

101 Incredible Coaching Questions

101 Terrific Positive Psychology Coaching Questions

How to Ask Great Coaching Questions Infographic

Topics: Coaching, coach, coaching questions, curiosity, TED, Coaching Tip

Coaching Questions Don't Always End With Question Marks

Posted by Julia Stewart

Business Coach, Mattison Grey, MCCToday, in the International Association of Coaching's (IAC) Voice newletter/blog, an article by Business Coach, Mattison Grey, MCC, appeared with the title, When the Best Coaching Tool Isn't a Question.

In her article, Mattison makes a powerful case for acknowledgment as a masterful coaching tool. She should know. Mattison wrote the book on acknowledgment called, The Motivation Myth. And she points out that most coaches don't know what it is or confuse it with something else.

Mattison has studied the art of acknowledgment more than anyone I know, probably more than any coach alive, so I always defer to her on this subject. She started educating me on acknowledgment six or seven years ago and I've watched her use it in action many times. It truly is amazing.

Unfortunately, if you haven't watched a master acknowledger practice her art, or if you didn't know what you were witnessing, you probably missed the implications. So let me point out a few.

Here's Mattison's definition of acknowledgment:

Acknowledgment is saying what a person did, or results they achieved, delivered with a tone of appreciation, curiosity or surprise, and without judgment.

Easy, right? Try it. For most coaches, it's anything but easy. That's because we're still getting in the client's way (In other words, we're NOT making it all about them, so we're failing the first step in master coaching).

If you acknowledge well, here are some of the things that may happen:

  • Your client lights up
  • They feel seen/heard
  • They don't feel suspicious (as in, 'What's she buttering me up for?')
  • They acknowledge themselves ('I did!')
  • They open up to us
  • They see themselves in a new light
  • They tell us things we didn't even know to ask about
  • They think more resourcefully
  • They step into their Personal Greatness
  • They are willing to do far more
  • They love themselves (and us)

When I teach acknowledgment to Master Coach Training students, I offer a few pointers, such as, use second-person pronouns (you, your, yours) instead of first-person pronouns (I, me, mine); acknowledge what the client did, the results they got and who they are becoming.

When used well, acknowledgment can express or enhance virtually any other coaching skill, including all of the IAC Coaching Masteries(tm). The right acknowledgment, well-placed and followed by a bit of silence, can even be a powerful clarifier.

Which is one reason why master coaches don't always ask questions.

Motivation Myth

 

Get your copy of Mattison's book, The Motivation Myth (at left) and become a master of acknowledgment.*

 

*I'm an affiliate of Mattison's and I would recommend this book, anyway.

Topics: business coach, Coaching, blog, Become a Master Coach, coaching questions, Mattison Grey, Masterful Coaching, acknowledgment, MCC, Master Coach Training, IAC, coaching tool

Your Coaching Questions Answered: Dreaded Coaching Conversations

Posted by Julia Stewart

Your Coaching Questions AnsweredA month ago, I posted to this blog with questions about conversations that coaches dread and I mentioned that best-selling author, Deborah Brown-Volkman, and I are working on a related project...

Well, I'm ready to tell you about the 1st step in the related project: It's a series of 4 interactive webinars, hosted by Deborah and me on 4 types of conversations that coaches tend to dread and how to handle them.

You see, Deborah and I are both constantly asked by stressed-out coaches who are unprepared for tricky communication issues that come up all the time and we knew somebody needed to address this stuff, like...


  • Clients who lie or don't follow through on fieldwork
  • Potential clients who say they 'can't afford' you
  • Clients who don't pay on time
  • How to fix it when you've said the wrong thing

These issues aren't just embarrassing and stressful; the fear and confusion that come from not knowing what to say or how to handle tough situations like these can bring your success to a screeching halt!

So here's what we're doing to help: In these 4 one-hour Q&A webinars, Deborah and I will offer advice on how to handle the most-oft asked questions, but we won't stop there: You can ask your biggest questions and we'll answer on the spot.

Think of it as an injection of clarity that brings you the ease and confidence you want for yourself and your business - and we're doing it at a price that any savvy coach can handle:

Take one class or all four and get the answers you need on 4 Mondays, January 23rd to February 13th, 2-3 PM EST (GMT-5). They're just $30 per class...but if you act quickly you can save up to $40!

  • How to Have Have Tough Conversations With Potential Coaching Clients

  • How to Deal With Renegade Coaching Clients

  • How to Create Ideal Coaching Clients With Advanced Communication Skills

  • How to Have Conversations That Create Your Ideal Coaching Business

Here's a secret to all of these questions: The are all best handled proactively. But how can you set up yourself for success if you don't know what to expect? Easy. Ask your questions and listen to the questions and answers that other coaches share on these value-packed calls. Deborah and I know a lot and we're ready to share!

Seating is limited and classes are filling up. But if you act fast (a.k.a. proactively), you can save $10 on each class that you sign up for. How?

Register by January 20th and get each class for $20: Add the discount code below when you register online. Click 'Apply' and the cost of each class will be lowered to just $20. But you must use the discount code no later than 5 PM EST this Friday, January 20th.

Discount Code: Early20

Click below to register now:

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Topics: coaching business, Coaching, webinar, coaching questions

Beyond Coaching Questions: The Conversations That Coaches Dread

Posted by Julia Stewart

Dreaded coaching conversationsMy colleague and friend, Deborah Brown-Volkman, and I are planning a coaching communications project that moves beyond, ‘Which coaching questions should I ask?’ and covers the trickiest and stickiest conversations that professional coaches must have, but often dread.

 

 

You know the coaching conversations that give you sweaty palms:
  • How do you handle the client who doesn’t pay you on time?
  • How do you tell your client that you really can’t give them an extra 20-30 minutes every week?
  • How do you tell your client that s/he needs therapy instead of coaching?
  • What do you say to the client who ‘can’t afford’ you?
  • How do you raise your fees without losing your clients?
  • [insert your dreaded client conversation question here]

My students and mentees ask me these questions everyday, but Deborah and I are creating a new resource to give you answers and ideas that are right at your fingertips.


The truth is, as a coach, you need advanced communication skills. And if you don’t have them, your peace of mind will suffer and so will your coaching.

“Success in life is directly proportional to the number of awkward conversations you’re willing to have.” - Anonymous

Do you worry about how to handle touchy conversations with your coaching clients? Then please share which conversations keep you up at night in our comments section, below.

Tell us some of the hardest or most difficult conversations you've had or don't want to have. Your questions about communication best practices for coaches will help shape this project greatly - and will help us to better help you.

Please share your questions below. We’ll be happy to offer answers or methods for finding your own best answers, so you never have to dread having another uncomfortable conversation again. And if you have a great story about how you handled a tough conversation, we’d love to hear it - and you might just help a fellow coach get a good night’s sleep tonight!

[UPDATE: Deborah and I are hosting 4 low-cost live, interactive tele-webinars on how to have the toughest coaching conversations of your career. Click below for more info...]

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Ask your questions about dreaded coaching conversations, below...

Topics: Career, Coaches, coaching clients, coaching questions, communication

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