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Where to Put Our Attention as Coaches?

By Martha Lasley, Virginia Kellogg,
Richard Michaels & Sharon Brown

Coaching for Transformation
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 With so many options, what do coaches look for and where do we focus?

Key Words—The first words spoken can be very revealing, so pay attention to the very first things said. When phrases are repeated, pick them up and get curious. Notice which words have energy behind them.

Yearning—In every moment, we listen for what the client wants. Even if they continuously talk about what they don’t want, or what’s not working, we can listen for what they do want.

What’s Not Said—Focus on what the client is protecting. Sometimes they’ll come right out and say, “I don’t want to talk about my loss,” an indication they are protecting something of value.Other times what they are avoiding is more subtle. We use our intuition to look under the surface and listen for what’s emerging.

What is Showing Up—Notice what is present, or alive or arising. Responding to what is happening opens doorways that might otherwise be missed. These signals show up as emotion, tone of voice, words, energetic shifts, pacing, breath and more. Putting our attention on the here and now leads to awareness, depth and aliveness.

Emotions—The dashboard of the human experience, emotions let us know what’s going on under the hood. Pay special attention to tears and laughter—both are indications that something is moving within.

Body—The body reveals all—changes in posture, facial expression and the shrinking or expansion of the space the body occupies. Pay special attention to extremities—the hands and feet give us lots of information.

What’s Easy—proactively point clients toward what is working right now or to the easy next step. If the client lacks resourcefulness or possibilities, point the client toward what is already working. Focusing on what is working connects them to their past successes, creativity and resourcefulness whereas focusing on the problem often results in more problems and less creativity. Assume the client knows the way forward and can find where movement is already happening.


Excerpt from the book Coaching for Transformation: Pathways to Ignite Personal & Social Change by Martha Lasley, Virginia Kellogg, Richard Michaels and Sharon Brown. As faculty at Leadership that Works, they certify coaches who offer personal, organization and community transformation. Check out the free Power of Coaching teleclass.

Coaching is life-changing, world-changing work. The coaching programs at Leadership that Works go beyond theories and models and work with clients on a deeper level. You learn how to coach the whole person: physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Whole person Transformation.

Leadership that Works

Transforming the world.
One heart at a time.

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