In this week’s guest post experienced coach and NLPer Nigel Heath shares his advice about coaching.
Less is more
By Nigel Heath
I was at a meeting of NLPers one day, long ago, discussing the tools & techniques, when one of the group asked for ‘advice’ with a specific client. The group member told us a bit about the issue and then proceeded to tell us what she had ‘done’ to help the client fix their problem.
“I started with a ‘swish pattern’” she said, “and then I used a ‘circle of excellence’ to build some extra resources.” “I tested to see if the issue was still there, it was, so I used ‘perceptual positions’ and threw in some ‘anchoring’ to help with reinforcing the resources discovered earlier.” “This still hadn’t shifted the original problem.” She then told us of three other things she had tried without success before finally giving up and making another appointment. She asked us “What do you think I should do next?” (Answers on a postcard please to Jen!)
I too remember the heady excitement of discovering I now had the power to heal the world with my new NLP and coaching skills – even if particular individuals, who were clearly in need of healing, resisted my attempts to fix them. Fortunately for me, and everyone else, this phase soon passed.
I began to incorporate my new skills into my existing ones as a physical therapist. As people relaxed under my hands and felt able to express what was really bothering them so I was able to guide them to their own solutions. Increasingly my clients came to me for these skills rather than my physical therapy and I relaxed into knowing they brought their own solutions wrapped in their problems. My job was to listen, ask a few questions and wait for the ‘solution’ to present itself. Their solution, which I reflected back to them. Because it was their solution there was no resistance to it and they would often exclaim “Yes! That’s it!” I think it was Richard Bandler who said “The art of therapy is 99% listening and 1% intervention.”
I now work with my wife, Jenny, as specialist Relationship Coaches. We use NLP, Clean Language and many other assorted skills we have acquired over the years. We have available many resource sheets and exercise plans to give to our clients. Always we hold in our minds “Less is More”. We coach couples and coach together. We see them for two hours minimum but increasingly we see them for one day or two days together. We know that in the ‘dance’ of their unique relationship are the weeds of their problem and the seeds of their own solutions.
I was powerfully influenced by Richard Bach, discoverer of Bach flower remedies, who spent many years ‘unlearning’ the dogmatic approach taught to him in medical school and learning to listen and intuit what his clients really needed to solve their own issues.
As coaches we hold a ‘space’ for our clients, where it is safe for them to confront issues they prefer to ignore. We remind ourselves to:
- remain relaxed and just know they will show us or tell us the solution they need
- resist the urge to give them ‘solution No 42′, which works in nearly every case!
- rely on the skills learnt, and as a coach, the innate skills that drew us to this profession in the first place
- allow our skills to be in the background, supporting us as coaches, providing a loose structure to the session and giving us confidence.
My message to any new coach is “Only use just enough to get the job done. Please don’t ‘try out’ every technique you know on every client. They will leave more screwed up than when they arrived. Trust your intuition and your experience to help your clients have a positive experience with you they will either want to repeat, or recommend to their friends.”
About the Author/Further Resources
Nigel Heath works with his wife Jenny as The Relationship People. They coach together and have trained other coaches to do the same. They are both Master Practitioners of NLP, Clean Language Facilitators and Life Coaches.
They work from their home on the northern edge of the New Forest, on the Hampshire / Wiltshire border.
They have written their first book, “Let’s Talk Love” a one message book based on just one of the exercises they give their couples to do when they are looking to repair or enhance their relationship. It’s available on Amazon and other online bookstores. Their second book “How to have a better argument” is in progress and should be out in 2012.
For 13 years they ran the successful NLP practice group NLP-South, which still meets once a month in Eastleigh near Southampton. Www.nlp-south.org.uk
Visit their web site at www.therelationshipeople.co.uk
read their blog http://relationshipeople.blogspot.com/
follow them on Twitter http://twitter.com/#!/relationspeople
find us on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/company/the-relationship-people
like us on facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/LetsTalkLove
or contact Nigel direct nigeltherelationshipeoplecouk