In coaching, we help our clients to achieve goals, realize their potential, get better at things and we support them in discovering what is important to them. Sometimes our clients come to us in order to come to terms with a situation that is out of their control: they have lost their jobs, a relationship has ended, the new boss isn’t someone they would have chosen to work. There might also be other external circumstances like the one we are currently experiencing in the COVID-19 crisis that make life difficult for our clients.
So, how do we help our clients when the coaching topic does not seem to be about what to achieve, but what to get away from? How do we help our clients when there seems to be nothing that they can do about the situation at hand?
In Solution Focused coaching we distinguish between “problems” and “limitations”. A problem is defined by the fact that a solution is possible. The limitation is something that we cannot change. The best way to turn a limitation into a solvable “problem” or a goal in a coaching session is by framing the agreement around how to come to terms and deal with the limitation.
Here is an example:
Instead of saying “you are having difficulties”, the coach replies “the situation is making life difficult for you”. This invites the client to imagine the problem as outside of the him- or herself. The problem becomes something that the client can come to terms with or deal with and is not identified as “belonging to” the client (i.e. “my” problem)
The coach asks what the client is already doing, feeling, thinking in order to cope.
The client stated that he or she wants to keep calm and sane and that the business is in trouble. The coach picks up these important words and asks whether the client wants to explore any of those.
Once the client has picked something that they want to work on, which is in their realm of influence (e.g. dealing with the limitation), invite the client to explore in detail what that looks like in order to come to a more fully understood coaching agreement later on.
Gently lead the client back to what it is that they want rather than what it is that they don’t want if the conversation reverts to discussing why and how the situation is very difficult. This can be done by empathizing again, acknowledging that the situation is making life difficult for the client and asking what makes the client confident that they will be able to make a positive change for themselves.
If you would like to explore topics like this are other topics related to coaching come to our free coaching meet up an exchange that is run every week. To register click here:
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