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The 3 Most Effective Coaching Techniques Every Coach Must Master

"Remember, the purpose of the engagement is to help them move from Point A to Point B. Without inviting, they have only created the recipe. Inviting them to take action is making the dough and putting it in the oven."

What exactly is coaching? And why is the industry growing for both those utilizing the service and those becoming coaches themselves?

Coaching is all about taking action. Unlike counselling or therapy that looks to the past, coaching is a forward facing process that has a primary aim of getting the right things done. Coaching is primarily defined by effects. A coaching client only pays because the conversation creates useful effects for him or her.

And different from consulting, coaching, from the clients perspective, is a:

  • Self-aware

  • Self-decisive, and

  • Self-directed process.

Yes, there are times when us business coaches will take off the coaching hat and put on the consulting hat. We are not "Pure Coaches" here at PBCA. But we can have that conversation another time. So, to keep it simple, we as the coach are not assessing the client and their business and then writing a report of the actions we feel they should take. Proper coaching results in the client gaining clarity on what they need to overcome (or capitalize on) based on their unique circumstance, and then what they will do to overcome it (or capitalize on it). They need to become self-aware of their situation, decide for themselves they want to make changes, and then determine the best course of action (with our help if needed).

But how do you make the coaching conversation and engagement effective? How does a coach get the best out of their client? How do they help their client gain crystal clear clarity so they know exactly what they need and want to do, and now just need to make the right decisions to get it done?

There is a lot of research, psychology, and resources that we could dive into to validate and explore this very topic. For today we're going to keep it simple and discuss the 3 most effective coaching techniques that when used the right way, can help any owner make incredible changes and transform their business.

And effective coaches will master these basics.

The first technique: Questioning.


The first step to creating self awareness is sparking the mind into a reflective state by asking questions that probe into the life and situation of the person in question. Think of proper questioning as unravelling a ball of tangled yarn or headphone chords, except it's your clients thoughts and experience. You are helping them unravel it all and make sense of it. You're helping them gain clarity.

About questioning, Edgar H. Schein said in his book "Humble Inquiry:"

"...[it] is the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not already know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.”

An important note about questioning is to be curious. That's different than trying to gather data. Curiosity is a different way of discovering and results in better and more useful information in the end. Here's an example of conventional vs. curious questioning:

Both are a way to ask a question. But one is much more effective for achieving the goal of your client becoming self-aware and self-directed.

Technique #2: Listening

Two ears, one mouth. You know the saying. Use them proportionally. And listen with the intent to understand and continue to feed your curiosity, not to simply respond. Often what is said is only the first layer of the onion. It takes continuous questioning and listening to get to the foundational layer of the problem so that you (they) are now treating the source, not a symptom.

Listening also helps build trust and relationships. It will help you increase your influence and lead people. And as weird as it may sound, you can listen wrong! Here are some "dos" and "don'ts" of listening:

And finally, the last technique: Inviting.

The most visible outcome of coaching is also the primary reason clients want coaching in the first place: Action! Clients want change; they want to see results. They want to move forward. Action will mean integrating new practices and/or establishing new habits.

Inviting is the final step that must be done for coaching to really work. But all 3 techniques work together, not in isolation. So to become self-aware, self-discover, determine what and how to get over it, but do it all without inviting them to make specific steps and followup with them, will result in a dissatisfied client and coach. This step may include you giving some suggestions, tools, or other resources for what they can do based on your experience and training as a business coach. Just be sure that this is only supplemental to what they determine as action steps first. They are much more likely to follow through on their action steps when they've decided what is important. It's much easier and more effective to follow up with what THEY wanted to do, instead of what YOU wanted them to do.

Remember, the purpose of the engagement is to help them move from Point A to Point B. Without inviting, they have only created the recipe. Inviting them to take action is making the dough and putting it in the oven.

But without proper questioning and listening you're going to have a bad dough recipe!

All 3 techniques, when used together, will result in real tangible change for your client, which is the only reason they hired you.


Are you thinking of becoming a business coach? Do you want to be part of a larger community of highly experienced and trained professional business coaches? If you want more info on becoming a PBCA Certified Professional Business Coach, contact us here and get started!


Cody is a Certified Professional Business Coach, Extended DISC Facilitator, and the owner of NIELSEN Business Coaching & Development Ltd. in Alberta, Canada. Cody has the privilege of working with successful small business owners to get them out of the stress of the day-to-day, think more strategically, and provide them with tools and guidance to take control and more fully enjoy business ownership.

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