June 25, 2018
I find a lot of coaches are deeply relational human beings and have a huge value for face-to-face interaction with their clients.
I was much the same way when I started out as a coach. I loved the transference of energy that takes place when you’re physically with someone. I liked being able to see the look in their eyes as I asked transformative questions and watched their dreams turn into reality.
Plus, I had a lot of faith in my own physical presence to set the tone in energy, body language, and cultivate the atmosphere to one conducive to change.
In contrast, I had no faith in my ability to coach people by phone or even by Skype. I struggled to believe that anyone would even think that virtual coaching was even a valid form of coaching, and I wasn’t even sure if someone would pay a virtual coach.
What I’ve learned over the years, is that virtual coaching is not only a valid form of coaching that people would pay for, but it is absolutely just as effective as face-to-face coaching, and here’s why:
Over the years, we’ve had a few coaches (that I know) who have earned their coaching credential through LCTI that were blind.
Would any of us dare think that a blind person couldn’t coach someone?
Would any of us reason that a blind person couldn’t be as effective as a coach with 20/20 vision?
Of course not. Because coaching isn’t about being able to see someone. Coaching is all about listening deeply and asking questions that help clients remove barriers, gain insights, and move forward towards their goals.
And these particular coaches are some of the best listeners I’ve met.
It actually is scientific that when an individual loses one sense, the other senses are heightened to compensate for the lack of the one.
Part of the reason why the other senses can compensate is that there is actually data still available even though you can’t see someone.
There are pauses, word choices, sighs, hesitations, incongruent sentences, shifts in tone, moods, emotion, etc. Only deep listening (Level 3, Global Listening) can really capture these things.
Yes, I believe that body language is important (we even teach about that too in our Life Coach Certification Course). Nevertheless, we often miss all the subtle clues that are involved in much deeper listening, because we’re so distracted by what our eyes see.
Early on as a new coach, I had a client who lived out of state. They weren’t tech-savvy so coaching via Skype was out of the question. So all I was left with was a mid-week 1 hour phone call. Honestly, I felt so vulnerable because I couldn’t rely on my presence or my eyes. The only thing that I could gauge anything about my clients was on what she said, and, more importantly, how she said it.
I listened, more intently than I ever had before because I realized it was all I had. The best part was I crushed it, and the client got extraordinary breakthrough. It completely changed what I felt about virtual coaching.
As a matter of fact, even if a coach was going to focus one face-to-face coaching, I’d still recommend doing some practice coaching by phone. When visual stimuli is taken away, it forces you to develop other senses so you can pick up more more than just what’s being said.
If the client is comfortable with virtual coaching, then I don’t think you have to be concerned.
I understand if you like the personal touch, but there are a number of ways that you can and should already be giving your clients personal touches: emails, cards, heartfelt voicemails, etc. I tell the coaches I mentor in Jumpstart Your Coaching Practice: “Make it personal.” You can do that through so many meaningful ways that don’t involve you being in the same room with them.
Lastly, I’d add that virtual coaching can seriously reduce your overhead costs.
There are a number of soft costs involved with coaching like: gas, wear and tear on your car, the time it takes to drive to an appointment, driving time leaving the appointment, etc. You can eliminate all these costs while freeing up more time.
Many new coaches work full-time and have to coach part-time around their regular job. Virtual coaching can allow a part-time coach to break free from their full-time jobs at a much quicker pace.
Check back later this week for our Wednesday Upgrade as I’ll be sharing some tips for making virtual coaching calls the best that they can be!
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