9 Ways to Coach Brilliantly with Silence
Have you ever heard someone describe coaching as “magical”? Good chance they were amazed by the impacts of a coaching session enhanced by silence.
Most coaches lack confidence with this tool. Read this post to master the art of coaching with silence!
Here are 9 steps to mastering the art of coaching with silence:
Shut up. Sorry, just wanted to get your attention. But seriously, one of the surest ways to use silence is to ask an attention-getting question and then shut up. We teach the finer points of this approach, including how not to be rude, in the Certified Competent Coach Course. Read on for other ways to use silence…
Add a pause. People think faster than they talk which explains why coaching sessions that include pauses at just the right moments often result in more insights for clients. I heard one of my students do this in class the other day and his client had insights seemingly out of nowhere. Magic? Or silence?
Slow down. Before you get to silence, experiment with just slowing down. Most coaches mirror their clients’ pace, which is good, but sometimes a slower pace is more helpful. Pay close attention to you clients when you do this so you get it just right.
Acknowledge first. An acknowledgment followed by a pause can be more effective than the most powerful question. Theoretically, a coach who’s mastered acknowledgment and silence might never need to ask any questions!
Appreciate. When your relationship with the client is really solid, moments of shared warmth can boost the “magic” quotient higher. You co-create an environment where it’s safe for anything to be said or to happen. Take time to enjoy your client immensely.
Ask once. Sometimes a question comes out wrong. Resist the temptation to improve it and let that embarrassing mess hang in midair. Editing yourself confuses your client. Let them hear it, process it, and answer it before you speak again. Better yet, practice the art of crafting beautiful questions that never need editing. It takes time. You get that time in Master Coach Training.
Breathe. One of the best ways to connect and focus is to take one deep delicious breath together. No talking, just focus on that breath. Ah. It’s all much clearer now. Learn to perfect this in Neuroscience Tools and Practices.
Visualize. Invite your client to walk through a visualization with you. Make sure at some point that you fall silent so your client can just focus on what they are visualizing. Encourage them to stay silent too.
Put your phone on mute! The late great Ginger Cockerham once yelled at me while I was coaching in class because I’d asked a great question and the client was reorienting but I kept on talking. She said if all else fails, put your hand over your mouth or your thumb on the mute button because you can’t be great if you’re still talking. Give your clients room to think!