The first two minutes of a coaching session

Recently I worked with a coach who did something at the start of a session that I think all coaches should do: He took a minute or two to get grounded.

We sat down and he said, “Let me take just a minute to get grounded.” Then he sat. By the end of the moment, he was more centered and focused, and ready to generate a great session.

It’s a wonderful technique, one that lets a coach get focused on the matters at hand, the client in front of him/her (or on the other end of the phone), and drop personal issues or considerations that could distract or interfere.

When you get grounded, you can condition yourself to be oriented in a few ways:

1. The blank slate. Here, you are wide open and ready to listen to the client’s point of view, without prejudgment or adding your own “junk.” That way, you can provide your clients with the rare luxury of truly being heard.

2. Listening “for” something. Here, you can ground yourself like a laser beam, listening for a particular viewpoint or way of being that can help the client improve. For instance, you might listen for signs of commitment, blind spots, limiting assumptions, resignation, or behaviors/language that might be holding the client back.

3.  Assessing. When you assess, you are testing different hypotheses about what might be the root cause of the client’s performance issues. You can hone in on a logical, comprehensive framework to get to the bottom of a problem.

4. Listing from the point of view of another person. Here, you can ground yourself to think like one of your client’s colleagues or employees, and try to understand how that person would react to the client. If you are coaching your client to improve professional relationships, this is an excellent orientation.

There are many other perspectives you can take. By grounding yourself the first two minutes of a session, you can be sure to be focused and “on point” with the right orientation to get maximum impact.

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