There are hundreds and thousands of people out there today who need someone like you to help them make a positive change in their lives. In fact, the International Coaching Federation estimated the market value for personal coaches in the United States at $1.2 billion in 2016, and I expect this number to only grow.
These are people who are self-aware about the need for improvement in their lives but don’t know where to start. That is because making a positive change isn’t easy, and even a gentle nudge in the right direction from a Life Coach can make a world of a difference.
However, you’re not the only life coach out there; there are hundreds of others out there, many of whom might already have more experience in the business than you do. In fact, the same International Coaching Federation report I mentioned earlier estimates that were over 17,200 Life Coaches in the United States in 2011.
In 2011! So can you imagine the amount of competition there is out there in the life coaching business today? The question then is, how do you set yourself apart from the other coaches out there, while still ensuring that you help your clients become the best versions of themselves they can be?
Yes, there is the marketing, the networking and all the other ways to put yourself out there. But that will only take you so far. You will attract clients, but keeping them is another matter altogether.
To hold on to your clients, you need to offer them what they can’t do for themselves; which is to guide them towards a life they want for themselves. And for that, you need certain qualities and skills that will inspire them while establishing you as a Life Coach that can truly make a difference.
But what are these qualities and skills, I hear you ask.
That’s exactly what I want to get into here, so keep reading and before you know it, your Life Coaching dream will evolve into a profitable, sustainable business that will take you the distance.
Life Coach Skill 1 : Confidentiality is Key
When a client opens up to you as a Life Coach, it is because they trust and respect you and your judgement. However, to ensure that you retain their trust, you must make sure you uphold total confidentiality, no matter who approaches you or what the situation may be. This is essential to keep your life coaching business credible as well.
Right now I can hear you say, ”Why would I ever divulge client information to someone else?”.
Scenarios can vary, especially when someone other than the client is paying for the coaching sessions – such as an employer or a family member. When this happens, you could be torn between doing what’s right, while at the same time maintaining a good relationship with what could be an incredibly profitable client.
But remember this – you’re being hired for a reason and that is to help people make a difference in their lives. What they share with you will be their deepest emotions and secrets, and that comes with a huge responsibility; the responsibility to honour confidentiality no matter what happens.
To avoid putting yourself in a situation where you’ll be asked to divulge confidential client information, I suggest you establish ground rules right from the beginning. Be firm and clear about the boundaries of what will be shared with the third party who is paying for the sessions.
This will ensure that you never find yourself in a compromising situation and retain your client’s trust and confidence because as a Life Coach, those are the most important things for you at the end of the day.
Life Coach Skill 2 : Be Objective
Empathy is one of the core coaching skills you need as a Life Coach. That’s how you can truly understand what your client is going through, and help them find a way to reach their life objective. Ensuring the you ask the client the right life coaching questions is crucial to help you look at their issues objectively. Read more about asking the right life coaching questions here!
However, empathy also has the downside that you tend to get too emotionally attached to a particular client and their problems. This can cloud decision-making and you will struggle to effectively coach, negating any positive effect you could have had on your client’s life.
The best way to approach a client’s problems is to listen and understand what they have to say with empathy and then take a step back. Because the only way to help them is to be truly objective, and that cannot happen until you are emotionally detached from the situation.
To begin you need to accept that you are not immune to your opinions and biases seeping into your decision making, like everyone else. Accept you’re human and that your unique outlook can colour your perspective, which could be detrimental to the positive impact you could have on your client’s life.
Once you’ve done this, the next step is to learn how to keep your biases out of coaching so you can be objective about how you help your client move forward.
But I understand that this is easier said than done. Start simple – be aware of when you’re biased as seeping into your coaching. And when you notice this happening, own it, understand it and isolate it before you share your tips and suggestions with your client. Do this and you’ll be on your way to becoming more objective in no time.
Life Coach Skill 3 : Be Supportive, Yet Firm
Your clients come to you because they can’t seem to take the steps necessary to change their lives by themselves. But even after they’ve hired you to help them, this inertia can remain, becoming the first major roadblock you face as a Life Coach.
The most important thing is to establish ground rules before you even start your sessions with the client. Right from the first meeting make sure they’re aware of the role you will play in their lives as a Life Coach moving forward.
They are paying you to help them discover and confront the real issues they face. This truth can be hard to take at times and will cause discomfort. But the important thing to remember is that this discomfort is only momentary and is to keep moving forward and shall pass soon.
And once it does, it will leave behind a feeling of positivity for having overcome the difficulties your client has been facing, which will only motivate them to make further positive changes in other areas of their lives as well.
So as a Life Coach, while you need to be supportive, it should not come at the cost of you standing your ground where it matters. That is the only way you will ever be able to help your clients make positive changes in their lives and evolve for the better.
Life Coach Skill 4 : Know Who You Are
Once you become a Life Coach, I can guarantee that the first thing people ask you when they find out is, “What does a Life Coach really do?” So what is it that you do, really? It doesn’t sound like a difficult question, but for many new Life Coaches, answering it in an easy to understand and brief manner can be hard.
First of all, the question really isn’t what ALL Life Coaches do. The question is what you, specifically, do as a Life Coach and what you have to offer to someone who is struggling with making positive changes in life.
his is one answer that you really need to think through and have ready when you start out as a Life Coach. Your answer is how you can make the right first impression because you never know when the person on the other side is a prospective client.
So what do you stand for? What do you offer your clients? Why do you believe in the inherent potential for people to change for the better? Your answer for what you do as a Life Coach is a combination of answers for a bunch of different questions, and each of them is as important as the next.
The deeper you dig within yourself for reasons why you want to become a Life Coach, and your own inherent strengths that make you right for the job, the better you’ll be able to understand who you are.
Once you get there, the answer to what you do as a Life Coach will be clear. And if it’s clear to you, you will be able to find the best way to communicate that to whoever you interact with.
Life Coach Skill 5 : Be a Willing Learner
So you’ve spoken to a few people and done your research. Now you feel that you know what it takes to be a Life Coach and are ready to get started. But there is a lot more to coaching than just what you can pick up from second hand information. A lot more.
Coaching is a skill, and just like any other skill, you need to be properly trained so you can get a understanding of what Life Coaching is all about. Because without the training, you will realize that you’re floundering, and that will be the end of your Life Coaching career.
This means, before you get started, it is important to put in the time and effort to get a recognised Life Coaching Certification. This will not only polish the skills you already have, but also give you a better idea of what is expected from you and help hone the skills needed to do justice to your job as a Life Coach.
But the certification is just the first step. As the world keeps evolving, so do people’s problems. And you need to evolve with them. Augment what your Life Coaching certification teaches you with other diplomas and/or part-time degrees in the field that will help you such as psychology and counselling.
This will set you apart from the many other Life Coaches out there, while also equipping you with the skills and knowledge you need to understand your clients and help them achieve their life goals.
Life Coach Skill 6 : Leave Your Judgement Behind
It is human to have biases and beliefs that are unacceptable to you. There will be certain areas you feel strongly about, areas which your clients might irk you and test your patience. Irrespective of your life coaching niche, this rule applies universally!
But as a Life Coach, you need to look at every client as someone who has something to teach you. Because only then will you truly be able to respect them, and without mutual respect, the client-coach relationship is destined to fail.
If you want to be a successful Life Coach, you need to be able to accept people for who they are, no matter how much your internal biases may act against it. If even if you feel your biases rearing their head, it is important to not let it show and keep your relationship with your client cordial and respectful.
However, there will be times when a client’s behaviour or beliefs in completely unacceptable to you or you’re not comfortable with. In such situations, it is better to choose not to work with that particular client to avoid getting into a client-coach relationship that you know won’t be beneficial to either party.
Life Coach Skill 7 : Be a Great Listener
I think this goes without saying, but being a great listener is one of the key skills you need to have as a Life Coach. The better you listen and observe, the better you understand your client. Without that, helping your client make the changes they want is going to be a tough hill to climb.
“But is this a skill I can develop if I’m not already a great listener?” you may ask.
Yes, definitely. Listening and observational skills are just like any other – they can be honed and perfected until you become an empathetic and intuitive coach. A coach that can truly make a difference in people’s lives.
Start by practising your listening skills with your friends and family. Hear what they have to say without letting your feelings and perspective get in the way. No conversation is isolated. Behind each and every one of them are a collection of experiences and thoughts, all of which have come together at this moment while you’re both talking.
Try to unearth these details behind your conversation. Observe their mannerisms, their tone of voice, the speed at which they are speaking. Soon you’ll start to notice little things that will give you an insight into the conversation that the actual conversation lacks.
And by finding this insight, you can react and express in a way that makes the other person feel like you understand and care, creating a stronger bond between both of you.
As you continue doing this, observation and listening will almost become second nature, helping you be well on your way to becoming a good listener.
Life Coach Skill 8 : Don’t Take All The Responsibility
Your client has come to you so you can help them make positive changes to their lives as a Life Coach. Great.
Now your natural instinct is to take over and push them towards their idea of their perfect self. But Life Coaching isn’t about pushing, it is about the little nudges that will guide them towards the right direction. That’s your responsibility.
Every Life Coaching session should be driven by the client because they are the ones who know what they want the best. Your job is to question and guide them towards their destination.
Never insist that the client follow a certain path until you’re sure they are ready for it, and truly understand why this particular path will bring them closer to their ideal self. Because that is something you can’t instil in them, it has to come from within.
So rein yourself in, be a guide to your clients. You will see the difference it makes in the way your client blossoms into the person they want to be, and they will be grateful that you helped them get closer to their inner, true self.
Life Coach Skill 9 : Be Flexible
When you think of your work as a Life Coach, what do you see? Are you sitting in an office with your client on a comfortable couch as they tell you their problems?
Sorry to break your bubble, but it’s not always going to be like that. Most times, your clients will need your help when you least expect it, and it will be urgent. In such situations, planning a session for a later date when both of you can find time to sit across each other and go through the situation bother them is going to be impossible.
That’s why a majority of the Life Coaches coach their clients over the phone or via an online video call portal such as Skype. And if you’re not comfortable communicating over these mediums comfortably and effectively, that’s a skill you will need to pick up.
You can start by having more phone conversations with the people you know instead of texting them. This will get you into the habit of conversing over the phone, taking in their inflexions and understanding emotions without the need for visual cues.
There are also courses you can do that can help you improve. While these might be targeted towards and overall development of your communication skills, some also sections dedicated to conversations over the phone or video calls, helping you get more comfortable with the idea.
Life Coach Skill 10 : Keep Dreaming
As a Life Coach, it is your job to help your clients become the type of people they want to be. Their dreams and aspirations are laid bare in front of you and it is up to you to help them get closer and achieve their goals in the best and most beneficial way possible.
However, as you go along, you might notice that while you’re getting a lot of work, it’s not a lot of money. And trust me when I say I know how it is to go down the spiral where you start questioning yourself, your decisions and everything that’s going on with your life at that moment.
Don’t fret about the negatives because you will never be able to completely eliminate them no matter how hard you try. Instead, focus on the positives, no matter how small they may be. Celebrate your little achievements, like your first client, the first positive recommendation you received, even your first paycheck as a Life Coach.
Each and every one of these is an important milestone that you need to hold close to you, especially when you feel negative thoughts rushing through your head. It is these little positives that will drive you forward and motivate you to continue dreaming big.
The bigger you dream, the bigger will be your motivation to achieve your dreams. And before you know it, you will have a line of clients waiting by the door, ready to meet the Life Coach that can truly change their lives for the better.
And that is how you will achieve your own dream – the dream of running a successful Life Coaching business.