Coaching and motivating clients, part two 1

This is the second of two coaching posts with some pointers if you get “stuck” motivating a client.

Last week’s coaching post “Coaching and motivating clients, part one” talked about who was asking about motivation, asked what motivation means and assisting your client to tap into their natural desire.

Notice the impact of your words

Often as a coach, when the question of motivation comes up, you are looking for your client to take some action. Aid that physical movement by adding a sense of “movement” and momentum in the language you use in your conversation and questions.

My high school English teacher would no doubt shake his head in despair at the following but this is not a post designed to give linguistic labels and detailed explanations.

This section is not only here to get you to move once, it’s here to get you moving.

Adding “ing” to a word often gives a greater sense of movement and momentum so can assist your client to find answers and actions that will help them to turn that momentum into reality.

For example, you can get different answers and responses to using the word “motivated” compared to “motivating.”

Commitment and accountability

Inviting your client to make a commitment and the accountability that this brings can make it much easier for a client to complete a task. You may even argue that it can make it less easy for them to put it off until tomorrow and it never getting done.

Sure, depending on your client, they may still put it off to the last minute and only do it in the immediate hours before your next session but that is still likely to be more than they had done before.

Personally I like to invite clients to agree a specific time and drop me an email between sessions to confirm that they have taken that action. It has been known for specific clients to request that if I don’t hear from them to chase them up with my own email.

I’m aware that not every coach will be willing to offer that as an option. This works for me because of the way I structure my coaching practice as I have built in priority email contact for clients in my coaching packages.

I’m also comfortable providing that accountability as I always phrase it as an invitation, giving the option for the client to decline. This means that the extra accountability is the clients by their own choice.

Just do it

Sometimes, some clients will get so caught up in wanting to explore the why and thinking there is something deeply wrong with them. In reality all that has happened is that they haven’t made taking that action a priority. They have done something else in the time that they could have done this action.

Now there may, or may not, have been good reason to have prioritised something else instead. Regardless of the “cause” the reality is still the same the action/task is still to be completed.

Question for the coach: What would have to happen to make completing this a priority for this client?

Sometimes a really effective strategy can be to get the client to complete a task right then and there. This will obviously depend upon the client, the situation and what they wanted to get from the session.

For example, if they wanted to get motivation to make an appointment they had been putting off, invite them to make the call during the session.

You may not think of this as “traditional” coaching but it moves the client forward quickly and your client will not be concerned that you assisted them using something that isn’t likely to be in “coaching 101”.


This doesn’t mean overwhelm them with action steps as this can lead to them stopping again. It does mean that you can use “homework” to assist your client to get momentum going by taking the next step once they have started.

Some clients will find taking a huge leap easier than just a small step so consider this when choosing/discussing homework, if any, for your client.
Questions to consider: “What is a really easy next step to take?”
“What would be a fun next step to take?”

Challenge your client

If you have a client who has committed to take action, you’ve done everything you can think of to facilitate that and yet they repeatedly have not taken that action, there is probably something else going on. Don’t be afraid to share what you have observed.

Your role is there to assist them to get value from your work together however it’s a two way relationship, they can’t just be passive. For some clients, in some instances, challenging your client can provide the avenue that your client needs to share what is going on for them.

Sometimes it can reveal an obstacle that for some reason your client hasn’t shared with you.

On other occasions (usually in situations when they are not paying for the coaching themselves) they may not see the value of coaching. For example, in a business when they have been told they “have” to attend your coaching session. This can give you the opportunity to have a conversation about the value they want to get and explore how you can go about providing that.


I’m also going to mention at this stage that I personally believe that not every single client is going to be a perfect fit for every single coach – and vica-versa. Also sometimes coaching may not be the ideal solution for a particular client at a particular time.

If you and your client decide that you’ve gone as far as you can with your coaching together that does not automatically mean that you are a terrible coach and should beat yourself up about it. Just like I’d say that there it does not mean that there is anything “wrong” with your client.  I suggest you learn what you can from working together and then move on.

These are just some of the things you could do and consider – what else would you add?

About the Author

Jen WallerJen Waller is on a mission to support, nurture and encourage coaching skills and talents from non-coach to coach and beyond.

She has created a free 7 day e-course about how to create your own unique coaching welcome pack that works for you and your clients. Get your copy here.

Coaching and motivating clients, part one 2

Last week’s coaching post was “What do you do if you get “stuck” in a coaching session?” This week I want to start to talk about a specific situation that may generate that feeling of being stuck – how to motivate a client.

Today’s post is in direct response to a request for “Statements to help motivate the client.” For reason’s I’ll explain in a moment I’m going to expand upon that request with the aim of providing some useful ways to move forward if you find yourself “stuck” and maybe even avoid it in the first place.

Even with just mentioning a few pointers, there is lots to be said so I am posting part one today with part 2 next Wednesday.

Over time you will develop your own coaching style, you will probably already have certain beliefs about what is a role of a coach. I reserve the right to be flexible about the roles that I take during a coaching session but one of the ones I personally often think of myself as is as a facilitator, or if you prefer a catalyst.

Which is why rather than just give a specific couple of questions or statements that you could learn like a script and recite I want to assist you to be able to produce your own and make a difference with each of your individual clients.

Is the client asking for help with motivation?

I ask not because I’m questioning your judgement as a coach, I ask because motivation is one of those things that can mean slightly different things to different people. It’s not like you can nip down to your local supermarket and buy a tin of motivation.

It’s so much easier for you as a coach to provide a service that delivers what your client is looking for, if you have a conversation about what that means to your client.

Question you may ask your client: “How will you know when this is motivating?”

As a coach, what are you looking to achieve by motivating your client?

I know that this can seem like an obvious question but there is a certain logic behind me asking this. Sometimes if you are stuck it can be because you are asking yourself a less than useful question. If “how can I motivate this client?” isn’t throwing up any useful answers let’s ask a different question – knowing what you want to achieve can open up a whole new range of questions for both you and your client.

Often coaches are looking for a way to assist a client to take action towards their goal. One way is to select a step that is really easy to take to get them started taking action – this is particularly useful if they are imaging a huge overwhelming task. For example, which appears easier – writing one chapter or a whole book?

Making the task seem more manageable can lead to your client taking action easily.

Look to add “fun” into the action – make it more pleasant to do. If a client is imagining that the next step will be as much fun as having a limb amputated with a blunt saw and no anaesthetic then they are not likely to be as keen to rush out and take action. If there is an enjoyment factor then it will be much easier for them to start taking action.

Questions that may be relevant to ask a client: “What would be an easy step to take?”

“How can that be even more fun?”

Assist your client to tap into their natural desire

Sometimes a client can get caught up in small detail and miss or lose sight of what they want to achieve. Assist your client by reconnecting them with that motivation so that they naturally have a desire to take action and move forward.

You may choose to ask them direct questions or use guided imagery about their final goal or completing the next stage. Remember that using a description that uses all senses will assist your client to envision something that is easier to connect with.

This is always easier if the “goal” you are working with is something that your client actually wants. Notice if you actually believe what your client is saying.

If you ever hear and see someone talk about something that they genuinely want and desire, there is a light in their eye and sound in their voice. If you are not hearing and seeing that you have the option to explore in more depth.

Next week we will talk about things such as the impact of words and commitment. Meanwhile if you want to share your own advice, or to ask questions feel free to do so below.

Read part two here.

About the Author

Jen WallerJen Waller is on a mission to support, nurture and encourage coaching skills and talents from non-coach to coach and beyond.

She has created a free 7 day e-course about how to create your own unique coaching welcome pack that works for you and your clients. Get your copy here.

What do you do if you get “stuck” in a coaching session? 2

I often see or hear those new to coaching either ask directly or voice a fear about not knowing what to do if they get “stuck” in a coaching session.

For the purposes of this post I’m going to interpret “stuck” as having no idea what to do next. If this is a fear that you experience then let me share with you that you will probably find that the more coaching experience you get, the more techniques, strategies and skills you’ll gain making the prospect of getting stuck less and less likely.

To get you started (or to add to what you have already) I’ve included 7 pointers below.

  1. Breathe!

It certainly doesn’t help the client if you get caught up in your own head with any thoughts going at a thousand miles per hour or start to panic about what you’ll do next. So firstly take a breath and allow yourself to relax.

As you return your full focus to your client you may notice that your client may also benefit from taking a moment to slow down their thoughts and also take some time “out” to breathe.

  1. Listen

With your full focus upon your client pay full attention to what they are saying, the words that they are actually using and not any interpretation you may have added. There can sometimes be clues in the language that they use that when you incorporate into a question can produce powerful responses. Because these questions are “tailored made” for the client you won’t find them written down in any coaching course material.

Also notice how someone says something, for example if they are telling you about something they say they really want yet they don’t “come alive” when they talk about it use it as a signal to explore more about what they are not saying.

  1. Are you clear with what your client wants to get from the session?

If you feel that your coaching session is heading in an aimless direction, it can be worth checking that you (and your client) are clear about what is the goal for the session.

Once you have that clarity ask yourself, and even your client, what will move them closer to achieving that session goal.

  1. What is getting in your clients way?

Have you identified what’s stopping your client from moving forward? You don’t need to have shared this with your client if it’s not appropriate but if you can see the perceived “problem” then it is easier to identify a line of questioning/activity that will move through, around or over what is stopping them.

Sometimes it can be as simple as asking them to take action during the session – if they’ve been putting of making an appointment to give a presentation you’ve established they are more than prepared for – pass them the phone and invite them to do it then and there. If the issue is more than not having prioritised making that appointment it’s likely to highlight what is getting in their way so you can identify the next step.

  1. For your client to see something as a problem, what must a client believe to be true?

Sometimes what can cause a coach to be “stuck” is because a client is telling them about something they think of as a problem, yet the coach doesn’t perceive that as an issue so struggles to find an effective next step.

It can be worth asking yourself what a client must believe is true for that to appear a problem to them.

It can also be worth checking that this is actually a problem for them – sometimes a client will have “heard” and answered a different question to the one you actually asked. So it could be that the reason you can’t imagine how this is a problem is because it isn’t a problem! (I’ve written previously about clients answering a different question to the one asked here.)

  1. What question can I ask that will make the biggest difference right now?

You may not have an idea of the question that’s going to make the biggest difference right now but what about your client? “What question can I ask that will make the biggest difference right now?” firstly allows the client to dictate the direction of the session.

You’ll find that the slight change in asking them to think in a form of a question can be an additional stepping stone to leading to an answer that provides a big insight for the client. It can also be an indication for you as a coach the story that your client is telling themself about this situation.

  1. Do something different

If what you are doing isn’t working then try a different approach.

Perhaps you may want to ask your client to physically move, take the coaching conversation on the move by going for a walk, or just by swapping seats. In the right circumstances this can all be enough to be a catalyst for a new perspective.

Maybe you may want to introduce a “coaching exercise” that involves writing/drawing on paper instead of working mainly talking. Alternatively, you may have a “technique” from a different and complimenting “discipline” that you can put into practice.

By doing something different you will move the coaching session into a new place, one where it can be easier to see the next step towards that session goal.

These are just 7 pointers, what else would you add?

How do you help set a goal for the coaching session?

One of the reoccurring questions that I see and hear from those who are beginning to develop their coaching skills is based on the problem of struggling to pin-point a goal for a session.

A common response from more experienced coaches can be a variation of “yes that’s something I remember experiencing and it’s something that gets easier with practice.” Whilst I agree, it is something that gets easier when you practice, let me also give some pointers for that practice 🙂

Firstly, what expectations does your client have about what happens in a coaching session? If you want them to set the direction of the coaching how did you explain that when you both agreed to work together?

If you find that it is a common theme with all your clients struggling to pin point a goal for the session you may want to consider how you are describing coaching and your work.

What could you do so that it was even clearer what a client can do to be prepared before a session? Is there any additional guidance you could give so that it is even easier for them to get the most from your work together?

Perhaps you would like to encourage your clients to consider how they would know it has been a great session? A client often concludes for themselves that this is connected with what they wanted to get from each session (or the goal.) The answer to this question can also be used to form a question using their own language if they come to a session without a “goal” decided.

For example, imagine that Bob is a client who has told you that he will know that it was a good session if he left it feeling relaxed and focused. You could utilise that language in a question to clarify a “session goal” ie what would need to happen in this coaching session for you the leave feeling relaxed and focused?

Perhaps you want to include the use of a coaching preparation form in a format that works for you and your clients. This pre-session exercise can give people time to consider and get into the habit of deciding what they want to get from each session.

I said earlier that I often hear experienced coaches say that identifying a session goal gets easier with practice. Another aspect that can influence how a client “turns up” prepared for the session is their commitment and the value they see from your work together.

I know it’s possible that you are reading this and thinking you are not yet ready to charge for your coaching but I encourage you to consider what you could do to encourage commitment from the people you are coaching right from the start.

What else would you add to how you can help a client set a goal for the coaching session?


How much is your coaching worth?

The TV was on in a room I was in the other day and it was showing a daytime TV programme which involved 3 interior designers and antique experts each buying a house gift for a specific family. Each expert had a different monetary amount to spend buying their gift.

The family can only choose one gift to keep, which they do before finding out who brought the gift and how much that expert had to spend. As part of the show we got to see the families discussion about which gift was worth what price tag.

It was interesting to see what they valued in line with their lifestyle, personal preferences, tastes and needs. The value that the family was finding in each gift and their guess at a price tag was not in line with the actually amount that it cost.

So how does this apply to coaching? One of the things I often see coaches doing, particularly those just starting out, is deciding upon their price purely by looking at how much they want to charge per hour.

I’ve attended trainings in the past which taught that the way to decide upon your price is to decide upon the monthly/annual income you want from coaching and then the number of coaching sessions you want to carry out in that time. Dividing the financial amount you want by the number of coaching sessions gives you a price to charge per coaching session.

While this can be a useful piece of information to give an indication about the practicalities about the number of hours you want to be coaching for etc. I have to be honest, it’s not my preferred method of pricing a package.

There is lots that can be said about pricing and I want to focus primarily today on what value your coaching is worth. However, as I have mentioned the exercise above I wanted to briefly add an extra point. Interestingly, on the trainings I’ve seen this done there was no mention of being aware of what outgoings that you have in connection with your coaching. If you are planning on running a profitable coaching practice this information is useful to know!

However, as the family on the tv demonstrated with their house gifts, the “value is in the eye of the beholder.”

I invite you to consider the value that your coaching brings to your ideal clients, both emotionally, financially and practically. As well as what it costs them emotionally, financially and practically if they don’t choose to work with you.

Coaches Scary Coaching Stories

So Monday was October 31st, otherwise known as Halloween. A day associated with fancy dress, trick or treating and scary stories and films. Perhaps not a day you associate much with coaching!

One thing I’ve noticed with clients and myself, over the years, is that we can be exceptionally good at scaring ourselves – we can create all sorts of horror movies and stories within our own heads.

Sometimes the plot can be aided by others contributions either personally or via the media etc but even those who may not consider themselves creative or imaginative can do a great job of scaring themselves out of taking the next step towards what they want.

One of the things as coaches we can do is to provide an external set of eyes and ears to a situation so it can be easy to spot when a client is making up their own personalised version of “nightmare on Elm Street.”

However, even as a coach, whilst we may have moments of insight and spot if we are doing it personally, it’s not always as easy when you are engrossed in a story we are making up ourselves.

At some stage we’ve probably all seen a TV show or film with a scene normally on a dark and stormy night where the lone hero goes off to investigate a strange noise! You’ve probably also had a thought at that moment along the lines of “You don’t want to do that.”

The outcome of that particular action will normally depend entirely upon what sort of TV show or film the script writers set out to create – if it’s a horror or crime show then the noise is quite possibly a mass murderer. If it’s a show about rescued animals then the noise is far more likely to be a lost cat.

When we are engrossed in the story it can be easy to be directed into the response that the scriptwriters were pointing us. Yet if something distracts us momentarily we may spot various inconsistencies that may suggest other possibilities.

You may have your own personal version of a story you tell yourself that spooks you into not taking action.

Perhaps as you gain more experience you may tell yourself that you are just not ready yet to take that next step, even when offers are right in front of you. Maybe you even compare yourself with other coaches, mentors and trainers you have encountered over time and concluded that you are not yet at their standard.

I can often see coaches getting stuck focusing upon negative thoughts such as:

  • “Am I good enough?”
  •  “Why would anyone want me as a coach?”


  • “No-one would pay me that much to coach them.”

At first glance these questions and thoughts may appear reasonable. Yet the question can spook so much that the coach may not actually answer the question that is so scary.

They either freeze and not take any more action or try and distract themselves by “just” doing something else rather than addressing the question and providing an honest answer.

For instance, I have found an increasing number of individuals who have undertaken and successfully completed a coaching training yet have not taken any further steps to use those skills and knowledge with “real people.” When questioned fear often plays a part for their inaction.

Personally, I feel that it is a real waste to have invested all that time and energy to develop such skills and knowledge. I also think it’s a huge waste of potential – just imagine the difference skilled and knowledgeable coaches can make to other people.

I’ve recently designed a new program called “Start coaching ‘real people’ in 90 days” to provide support for those who really want to coach yet have found it too scary to coach a “real person”.

I invite you to consider one of the questions I had in mind for participants when designing the coaching program:

What if you didn’t scare yourself out of your potential?

What would be your very next step that you’d take?



P.S The link to find out more about “Start Coaching ‘Real People’ in 90 Days” is



A personal coaching plea to those starting out as a coach:

Don’t keep your coaching to yourself!

I think it is such a waste that I keep talking to individuals who have developed their coaching skills and knowledge yet are not doing anything with them.

They have fallen in love with coaching but are afraid to take that next step by working with a “real person” outside of that safe training environment.

You have invested time and effort into training and practicing; you may even have a bit of paper that declares to the world that you are certified. Yet I keep meeting coaches where something is holding them back from coaching “real people”.

Now I understand the fear and/or procrastination that can happen – even to coaches! We can get caught up in our thoughts – full of what if’s and negative suggestions about our own capabilities and value.

This often results in either not taking any action or keeping busy “just” doing yet another course or task before actually doing any coaching.

Today may be Halloween, a day traditionally associated with scary stories, but I want to offer an alternative to any fear of using your skills and knowledge with “real people” you had.

I invite you to share your skills and knowledge with others. I understand that may seem a huge task to do on your own. So I have designed a special program to make that easier – “Start coaching ‘real people’ in 90 days”

It is a program that when you show up powerfully and take action you will be coaching real people and so much more comfortably than when you started. If you want to have your own coaching practice this is also a program that will move you forward much quicker.

This will be a program that supports you as an individual coach. Here are just some of the results that are possible for you in our time together:

  • Actually be coaching real people!
  • Overcome your fear about coaching
  • Feel happier with the prospect of someone giving you money for your coaching
  • Identify how to charge for your coaching
  • Move closer to becoming the coach you really want to be
  • Have created a Welcome Pack that you are using with your coaching clients

For full details about how you could “Start Coaching ‘Real People’ in 90 Days” click here

Who is uncoachable?

I’m seeing an increase in the number of people arriving at this site looking for answers on a variation on the question, who is uncoachable?

Because this is the wording that is being used in the questions and searches, for clarity I’ll stick to that language throughout this post.

I will however, highlight that the question suggests that it is not behaviour demonstrated by a person that would make them “uncoachable” but who they are as a person.

It also suggests that it is possible that if someone is “uncoachable” in this present moment that they will always be “uncoachable”.

I mention this so that, as a coach, you can consider for yourself how this fits with your beliefs about coaching.

Now, I know that in the past one of our guest posters mentioned being uncoachable, which explains why the search engines are sending people this way, but as the number has increased I wanted to address this more today. I specifically want to focus upon how you can use the information gained from the question, who is uncoachable?

Before I go any further, I invite you to spend a moment to consider, the answers that sprang to your mind when you read the title, “Who is uncoachable?”

In my experiences each coach will have their own answer when they think about whom they would consider uncoachable.

Any coaching training you have already experienced may influence part, or all, of your answer(s). Perhaps you have been told that there are certain situations or types of behaviour you should not be coaching in.

Your answer may also have been influenced by an experience of working with a specific client in the past and it’s not an experience you wish to repeat! Maybe you reason that you have learnt to look for specific signs.

Your answer may also be influenced by other beliefs and expectations about what behaviours a client should demonstrate.

If you have ever looked for a definition of coaching you will have found that different people and organisations use different wording (sometimes you’ll even find more than one definition from the same group.) So it’s not surprising that whilst there are some overlap that different coaches have their own opinions about who is uncoachable.

So, what is your answer? Once you have your answer, what are you doing with the information?

My suspicion is that there is a training school somewhere that has asked their students to answer the question “who is uncoachable?” If that’s the case I hope that those students are encouraged to do more with that information other than just write it down to pass an assignment.

I believe that knowing your thoughts about who is uncoachable is information that as a coach you can make useful.

I know that the most common explanation I was given in some coaching trainings was that it is there to ensure that you don’t accept to work with clients who would be better suited seeking other forms of support and help. (Which depending upon your country of residence may potentially have insurance/legal implications)

This is certainly an important aspect of knowing who you think is uncoachable. I personally think that you can also use your answer for other benefits. Here are just some ways you could use your answer:

  • It can uncover your own beliefs about how you expect a new client to behave. This information can be useful to know so you can determine if it’s a useful belief to keep.
  • Does your answer help highlight behaviours that a client can demonstrate that assists them to get the most from your work together? If so how can you encourage your clients to use more of the highlighted behaviour?
  • How can you use the information from your answer in how you invite people to experience your coaching? Are there ways to discourage those you feel are uncoachable to not contact you whilst encouraging those you feel are coachable?
  • When you talk to potential clients, what can you look and listen for during the conversation that would indicate to you that someone matches with your definition of uncoachable?