How to Create a Safe Space for Coaching Clients to Share Their Truth
A client recently asked me “how to build safety into their coaching so their clients can feel safe to speak their truth.”
Beyond the basic rapport techniques there are many coaching skills & states that support this process which is so crucial to being effective as a coach and communicator…
AWARENESS OF THE CONTEXT
My first consideration is the context with which the person came to you.
Did they come by choice? Did they come to you tentatively or with desire? Did they invest money to have this meeting?
All of these factors will help determine the level of ‘rapport’ right out of the gate. The more desiring, willing, and invested they are as a general rule the more open they will be to share more deeply.
DEVELOP YOUR SKILLS OF LISTENING AND SUPPORTING
Most people are not aware of their ‘real’ problems’ or ‘real goals’ — or at least they aren’t very clear on how to explain them. So they will test you with smaller/pseudo problems and see how you respond before bringing the ‘real’/’deeper’ issues to the table. How do you handle these?
Do you default quickly to giving advice? Or do you actively & non-judgmentally listen, ask exploratory questions, acknowledge what you are hearing, check that you are understanding correctly, summarize what you have heard, etc. Do you separate out pseudo-problems & symptoms from the real issues and hear what isn’t being stated directly?
Do you call them out when you calibrate that they are being inauthentic, shallow, or playing it safe and invite them to get real?
These will allow them to feel safe, supported, understood and build trust in your competence & caring so they will be more comfortable to share their deeper, more meaningful issues.
DEVELOPING YOUR DEEP QUESTIONING SKILLS
Ask deeper questions that pull them one level deeper than they have shared and see if you get resistance or if they follow your lead. In many contexts it is our job as a ‘coach’ to invite deeper sharing rather than to ‘wait for it’.
DEVELOPING YOUR SKILL OF FRAMING
Setting frames up front can help accelerate this process.
Let them know that your conversations are confidential. Let them know up front that you’re going to ask them deeper questions to get to the heart of what is most important. Let them know up front that the more real they are, the more real/authentic their results will be, etc.
What frames can you set that will allow them to feel more comfortable/help resolve some resistance they may be feeling to authentically share?
DEVELOPING YOUR COACHING STATE
Lastly for now, how well do you unconditionally accept your clients? How well can you appreciate them as people and even appreciate their ‘problems’/parts of themselves that even they don’t appreciate about themselves yet?
How much can you see them as a unique and sacred individual on a growth journey? How much do you put yourself aside and so they can sense it is all about them rather than you, your ego, or your results. And again, how well can you ‘just listen’ and explore without the need to change anything.
All of these skills will support you to create the safe space your clients need to open up, uncover the real issues, and create meaningful changes that make your work so valuable they can’t help but actively promote and praise you and your work.
Questions, comments, or contributions? Feel free to share below!