Increasing awareness in coaching is a vitally important skill. In fact, a coach’s ability to evoke awareness is assessed during ICF performance evaluations.
Here are some strategies for improving your awareness quotient.
I’ve been working on increasing my awareness lately. I was reminded of the words of one of my favourite gurus, Tara Brach, “Resting in the present moment gives us connection to stability and ease – an anchor in turbulent waters.”
A few weeks ago, while walking in the woods, I realized that I was moving at a break-neck pace, looking down at my feet. I can be so busy looking down sometimes that I actually forget to pause and look up.
I decided to slow down, rest in the present moment, and sit on a tree stump to take in my surroundings.
Breathe Cathy, breathe, I reminded myself.
That’s when I spotted this handsome owl a few feet away, warming in the sun. Had I not slowed down, I would have missed him.
The maple trees behind my house were awash in bright oranges and reds for two weeks at most. Then, the leaves carpeted the ground, and the branches were bare. Soon, there will be snow.
These subtle changes can seem sudden if I don’t stop and take them in day by day.
Maybe you know what I mean.
It’s like that in coaching, isn’t it?
There is value for you and for your client in slowing down. In resting in the present moment. But how?
Competency 7 in the ICF Competency model, Evokes Awareness, includes coaching behaviours that can assist you in bringing this type of present-moment awareness to your coaching conversations. In my work as a mentor coach, I have observed that this competency is often missed by coaches. They’ve forgotten to slip into a lower gear and invite their clients to become aware of their thoughts beyond the details of their stories.
If you are a coach who wants to integrate more awareness into your coaching conversations, you need to look no further than the ICF PCC Markers for some behaviours that will help.
Here’s How to Increase Your Awareness in Coaching
Allow your client to do most of the talking. When I review coach recordings, I have found that the most effective coaches speak about twenty-five percent of the time, leaving a full seventy-five percent for their clients.
Use clear and concise language. Try picking up keywords from what your client is sharing. This is often more effective than psychobabble.
Ask clear questions, one at a time, and allow enough time for your client to think and respond. Resist stacking your questions and asking several in quick succession without space for reflection.
Invite your client to explore beyond their current thinking about themselves or their situation. What do they hope? What do they want? What possibilities does the future hold? What do they value? What do they need? These questions elevate the client for the details of the situation or the story to focus on what they want to move toward.
Share your observations without any attachment to being right, and invite your client to explore your observations to add their own meaning.
These simple behaviours form the basis of the Evoking Awareness competency. Although they are useful in coaching, they can be used in any conversation to improve the quality of your listening in relationships.
If increasing awareness is an area of interest for you, there are lots of tools and programs that can help. There is a fabulous online mindfulness training program called The Power of Awareness by Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach that will be of interest to you, especially if you need Resource Development continuing education units.
Here’s what Jack and Tara have to say about awareness:
The present moment is the place from which your entire reality is created. Your relationships, home life, work, and experiences all spring forth from your thoughts, feelings, and actions that occur in a string of infinite moments.
However, most of us live our lives running from task to task, distraction to distraction. We wake up each morning with an endless list of “to-dos” and go to sleep, feeling like we didn’t accomplish anything meaningful.
We meet and interact with many people throughout our day but yearn for a deeper sense of connection and intimacy. We are tossed around by the ups and downs of our emotions and the events of our lives and accept this as “normal.”
And even though we have the intention to take time for ourselves and to meditate, these often get put at the bottom of our lists because life simply takes over … but it doesn’t have to be this way. When you understand the transformative, healing power of mindful awareness, you dramatically shift the experience of your life, the people in it, and the world itself.
If this program sounds interesting to you, take a look at the program, The Power of Awareness.
As we move toward the end of the year, I am committed to slowing my pace in all that I do. From my coaching and mentoring conversations to my walks in the woods. Who knows what I will discover next?
In the meantime, if you’d like to gear down a bit and earn CCE units in ICF Core Competencies, check out the Coach Competency Collective monthly discussion group. Two hours and two ICF CCE units every month. Come join us!
Author: Cathy Shaughnessy
Cathy Shaughnessy is an ICF Assessor and PRISM award-winning ICF Master Certified Coach. Cathy mentors credentialed coaches and she creates tools and programs to assist coaches to successfully earn their ICF Credentials. Get more information on Cathy’s group mentor coaching programs here. Check out the latest resource for coaches, How to Learn the ICF Competencies – 32 Fun Activities to Get You Started.
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