How to Have a Transformational Coaching Conversation [2023 Edition]

How to Have a Transformational Coaching Conversation?

Are you looking for tips on how to have a transformational coaching conversation with your clients? Look no further. You are in the right place.

Change is inevitable but transformation takes effort. Learn how to have powerful transformational coaching conversations in the sections below.

You may contact me for further details or sign up for my launchpad on how to be a great coach.

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Powerful dialogues make for transformational coaching conversation

It is important to recognize that there is great power in dialogue. And honest communication is the foundation for a transformational coaching conversation.

The transformation will happen only when the client recognizes problematic behavioral patterns. These patterns hinder his/her progress through life. The client is banking on you as a coach to delve deep and gain that insight.

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Here is the link to an article that discusses the role of dialogue in the coaching process. The author provides a powerful insight which I have paraphrased here.

The coach has no such authority but can exercise considerable influence through dialogue. He keeps the conversation focused during the ‘dialogue’. He empowers the client at every stage for idea generation and actions. The fact that the client CAN take actions based on his own solutions can be empowering. There is no other tool except ‘dialogue’ that enables this empowerment and flexibility.

The writer goes on to explain the seven types of dialogue in the article.

The spoken dialogue is the heart of the conversation. But the success of the spoken dialogue is dependent on the quality of six dialogues. It is also the most obvious form of the conversation. Few pertinent questions to ask oneself as a coach during the spoken dialogue phase are as under:

  • Is there a logical pattern of development to the conversation?
  • Are we exploring issues from different perspectives?
  • Who is doing most of the talking /coming up with ideas /adding value to the dialogue (conversation)?
  • Is the pace, tone, pitch varied in keeping with the conversation mood?
  • Are both the parties engaged in the conversation?

A step-wise approach to dialogue is:

  • Aim: What do we seek to achieve today?
  • Present State: Where are we currently on this? How important is it to look at this afresh?
  • Alternatives: How do we resolve this? How can we get the right support that helps provide direction?
  • Monitor and Review: How do we ensure that we take quick action and prove effectiveness?

You may read the whole article for more.

Who is looking for a transformational coaching conversation?

Who are your potential clients?

Is it someone who has lost a job? Or is it someone mulling a new career? Is it an entrepreneur wishing to develop his company further? Or is it your neighbour struggling to cope with grief?

All these people and more can be your potential customers. Anyone who is ready to examine his/her life and beliefs is ready for change. And progress is only permanent when change triggers transformation.

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Is there a need in the market for transformational coaches?

Yes, there is!

Will you be able to pursue this as a full-time career?

Yes, you can.

Let us look at some market realities. I have mentioned these statistics in my earlier blog posts as well. But this sets the context if you are wondering whether this career is worth your time?

This post claims that the life coaching industry has crossed the $1 billion dollar mark.

  • The International Coach Federation boasts 53,300 members. It has a steady growth trend.
  • Average income for life coaches ranges from $27,100 to $73,100. Specialty coaches can charge more than $100,000 annually.
  • Growth projections for the life coaching industry are an estimated 6.7%. This would take revenues to $1.34 billion by 2022.
  • 92% of life coaches remain active in the field.
  • In Asia, there were around 3,700 coaches. They contributed $113 million in total annual revenue.
  • More and more corporations are hiring life coaches instead of mental health counselors to work with employees (no stigma).
  • Life coaches remain unregulated. There are no state licensing requirements. This suggests freedom of practice, but also raises concerns about quality.
  • Executive coaches can earn a handsome salary too. Salaries start at $150 and can go up to $350 for most coaches. Executive coaches can also charge $1,000 per session.

This news report reported from the 2017 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study. The research was also conducted by PwC Research. It stated:

  • 89% people in India are aware of life coaching
  • 59% have partnered with a life coach at some time
  • 97% expressed satisfaction with the experience

Since transformation coaches have a very specific niche, tap into this enormous market.

Now, you may be wondering how you will overcome the challenge of getting your brand name out there? The market is evolving and growing. But the competition is also getting tougher.

For now the coaching market is still unregulated. This means anyone can claim to be a coach! I have provided some tips in the following segment on how you can get your voice heard. After all, the only way to get noticed in today’s market is to sell a differentiated offering.

Skills that enable transformational coaching conversations

There are several qualities that make a great coach. But there are three basic abilities that make for great transformational coaching conversations.

Transformational coaching conversations need active listening skills

Dialogues pose questions, monologues form answers. Remember it is the client who has to do the hard work, so be present and listen. Allow them a safe space, free of judgement, to open up. But if the monologue is going on in circles, feel free to interrupt. Steer the conversation towards your end goal.

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Transformational coaching conversations need a safe space

The setting has to be right. I do not mean the physical ambience though that too is important. Whether you are meeting your client in a coffee shop or in an office, ensure that there are no distractions. A lot of clients get embarrassed when they get emotional. So it is important to ensure privacy. Assure the client that it is okay to let go of any inhibitions. It is okay to feel the depth of emotion. As a rule of thumb it is best to avoid the client’s workplace for a meeting to ensure his privacy.

The other aspect to this is to create and retain confidentiality. Ensure that you are able to retain the client’s trust under all circumstances.

In my earlier blog on Top 10 Coaching Skills You Must Have as a Life Coach, I have highlighted some other skills. You may to refer to that blog.

You may also want to read up more traits that make for a great coach in my blog The Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Life Coach.

What happens during a transformational coaching conversation?

How does the client open up during a transformational coaching conversation? Listed below are some great ways to get the clients to open up. But for that you need to create a safe environment and earn the trust of the client.

The usual process to follow/expect during a transformational coaching conversation is:

  1. Create a safe space. The onus of this rests on you as the coach. The client has to be comfortable and also mentally reassured. Every client seeking a transformation will need to vent out to a person they trust. The environment should be safe from judgement. If you are hosting a meeting at client premises, see that no one else can hear you or disturb either of you. Insist on a distraction-free meeting. Switch off mobiles and ensure the client is alert and receptive.
  2. Build a rapport. Confidentiality is key between the coach and the client. So, your primary responsibility is to ensure that trust is never broken. It may be that you are appointed by anyone apart from the client. This can be a direct supervisor in a business setting or a relative. In such a case, map out with your client what may or may not be shared. Take express permission of your client before sharing any progress report. In short, building and maintaining trust of the client is your responsibility.
  3. Remain goal-focussed. Agree right at the start what the measures of success will be. There may be several instances where a client may have an “Ahaa” moment or feel very low. Both are natural and necessary. But as a coach, you must also keep the end goal in sight. Remember the goal you drafted along with your client? Keep coming back to this goal in order to keep the client motivated and on track. Interrupt a conversation if you need. Keep the client accountable for deadlines and tasks you agree on together.

These are my top tips to help have some powerful transformational coaching conversations. Read my blog 10 Powerful Life Coaching Questions Every Life Coach Should Ask for more tips.

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What should you ask during a transformational coaching conversation?

I have listed several questions that coaches can ask clients during coaching conversations. Read my blogs 12 Life Coaching Questions to Ask Your Clients and 34 Coaching Questions to Ask Your Clients to Begin With. Some tips are also listed in my blog 5 Powerful Coaching Questions to Ask Your Clients Based on Your Coaching Niche.

But your task is a bit more challenging during a transformational coaching conversation.

I have listed some of the questions you may want to start with during a transformational coaching conversation.

Introductory questions during transformational coaching conversation:

  • What can I help you with? What can we work on together that would make the biggest difference to your life?
  • What do you want more of in your life? And what do you want less of?
  • What do you really want? How will it/these make you feel?
  • What are three things you are doing now that no longer help you? How would you feel if you could stop doing these?

These initial questions help build up a rapport with your client. Once done, you may consider moving on to the more goal-focussed questions. Some of these are below. Feel free to adapt as per each client’s needs.

Goal focussed questions during transformational coaching conversation:

  • What would you have to change for your life to be perfect?
  • What does success look like to you? How will it make you feel?
  • How will you measure the success of our coaching engagement?
  • What would be the biggest impact of achieving your goals?
  • What is one change to your lifestyle that would give you more peace?
  • What would you try now if you knew you could not fail?

Now that the goal has been decided, form the next questions based on specific actions that will help the client move from point A to point B in the transformation process.

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Action-based questions during transformational coaching conversation:

  • What is the first step that can help you move towards your goal?
  • What do you have to let go of to move towards your goal?
  • Who should you hang out with so that achieving this goal seems a natural progression?
  • What are top three actions that you could take this week to move towards achieving your goal?
  • How will achieving your goal for this week make you feel?

You will notice that at every stage I have left a question to help tap into your client’s feelings. Do not shy away from letting the client explore the whole range of emotions with transformation.

Sometimes, you will find a client visiting his past only to relive the cycle of guilt and blame. Here are some questions that will urge him/her to explore that situation fully. Once, the client has explored the event, allow him some time and support to form his own opinion about how to better the situation.

Some helpful questions you may ask in this context are:

Understanding the situation:

  • What was your role in this situation?
  • Why do you feel guilty about your role? How does blame help in finding a way out? What will help?
  • What could you have changed?
  • How would the others involved feel about this situation now?

Shifting the perspective:

  • Can you look at this situation in any other way?
  • What good can you find in this situation/person?
  • Can this situation be an opportunity? If so, how can it benefit you?
  • Using the learning you gained, how can you move forward?

Taking proactive action:

  • In the future, how can you control your reaction? What can you change?
  • If you did not react, how would this situation play out differently?
  • What does self-responsibility mean?
  • How will you let go of this situation? What will you do differently next time?
  • How does it feel to let go?

When is it right to have a transformational coaching conversation?

How can you judge if a client is ready for a transformational coaching conversation?

First, you need to tell yourself the following mantra on repeat mode: “It is NOT about me, it is about them”. The sooner you start believing this, the faster you will realize that a client can have a transformation coaching experience only when he is ready for it.

A transformational coaching conversation requires a lot from your client. It takes hard work to initiate self-exploration, address old pain and still want to change. Hence, you may only support the client but under no circumstances can you do his work for him. As they rightly say, you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make him drink.

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Similarly, what is in your power is to showcase the benefits that the client may enjoy after a transformational coaching conversation. And this leads us to the important question: how do you get the word out about your services in enabling transformational coaching conversations?

How can you market your transformational coaching conversations?

Say your friend is going through a rough patch. How do you assure your friend that you are available for support? Going by how well you can anticipate their needs, you would offer help with errands or just be a supportive listener. Am I right?

Now tell me this: How were you able to reach your friend? I am talking about the actual physical ability. Most likely you picked up the phone and dialled a number. Or you may have paid a visit in person.

How will you reach clients who are looking for you? You must go where they are available. Make your presence felt in the area that they are also in. It really is that simple. They will find you. But here’s what you can do to let them know that you are available.

  1. Identify your niche: You need to get into the specific description.
  2. Who is your target audience? What is the demographic, age, gender, life and social status, income graph of your client?
  3. Why do you think such a client would need your skills? What is your unique selling point (USP)?
  4. Who are your competitors? What do they offer that you do not? How have they priced their services? What does their clientele look like?
  5. Where is your ideal client going? Are you there? If not, how do you plan to be visible in that specific location?

This seems to be a detailed list. But trust me when I say that identifying your niche is the most critical part of running a successful coaching practice. I have lost $10,000 decades ago while I was new to the coaching sector. You can read all about it in my earlier blogs.

  1. Create a killer elevator pitch. If all that you will likely get is 10 seconds to grab someone’s attention what do you want to focus on? For most coaches, finding that sweet spot is difficult. A life coach can offer support for various people at different stages of personal and professional development. So it becomes difficult to narrow down and focus on a target audience. This is why having a niche becomes very important.

However, as a transformation coach, this task is actually a lot easier. You already know what the target audience wants. Perhaps you are targeting the business and entrepreneurial crowd. They will have a consistent goal of wanting to better their professional lives. They are also brave enough to commit to change. Responding to this need will give you the words to include in your elevator pitch.

  1. Reach out to your community. What is going on in your community that you can contribute to? Where is your target audience hanging out? Is the local library or community centre or a posh fund-raiser? Once you have identified the location, search for opportunities to become visible. The easiest way to do this is voluntary work. Such work is not free. It pays dividends later.
  2. Collaborate and network. Since the work of a transformation coach is quite distinct, your target audience will be easy to spot. But the competition will be fierce. Every life coach will try to lure a potential client away by claiming to achieve the same results that you do: bring about change. So cast your net wider and look at collaborating with doctors or those practising in the mental health domain.
  3. Engage on social media. Social media is a powerful tool to have. But most coaches do not realize how far it can contribute towards brand building. What does your brand say about you? You may want to use social media strategists for your business while starting out. And amplify their marketing strategies across your personal social media pages.

I have earlier written a very detailed blog on the importance of marketing. It is called Is Marketing Crucial for My Business? I urge you to read that blog in order to understand how to draw up an effective, but not expensive, marketing strategy for your coaching practice. Some more marketing tips are also included in my blog 50 Marketing Tips for Coaches and How to Promote Your Life Coaching Business.

Books on transformational coaching conversations

Here are a few books on transformation coaching listed on various seller websites online. I am not offering a recommendation. I believe that you must read different points of view. So I am pointing out some resources you can refer to.

  1. Transformational Life Coaching: Creating Limitless Opportunities for Yourself and Others by Chérie Carter-Scott
  2. A Shift in Being: The Art and Practices of Deep Transformational Coaching by Leon Vanderpol
  3. Transformational Coaching by Joseph Umidi
  4. Transformational Coaching to Lead Culturally Diverse Teams by Sunny Stout Rostron
  5. Working Deeply: Transforming Lives Through Transformational Coaching by Robert Barner
  6. The Heart of Coaching: Using Transformational Coaching to Create a High-performance Culture by Lerissa Nancy Patrick
  7. Coaching: 9 Powerful Laws of Transformational Coaching by Jonathan C. Adler
  8. Insideout Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives by Gregory Jordan
  9. Beyond Beliefs: Transformational Coaching With Heart by Vicki Escud
  10. Transformational Coaching for Early Childhood Educators by Constant Hine
  11. Personal Relationships 3 Month Transformational Coaching Program Workbook by Nicole Locke
  12. Tell Me So I Can Hear You: A Developmental Approach to Feedback for Educators by Eleanor Drago-Severson and Jessica Blum-DeStefano
  13. Self Esteem 3 Month Transformational Coaching Program Workbook by Nicole Locker
  14. Calling Up: Discovering Your Journey to Transformational Leadership by J. P. Nerbun
  15. How to Coach Individuals, Teams, and Organizations to Master Transformational Change: Surfing Tsunamis by Stephen Hacker
  16. Mindfulness Coaching: Have Transformational Coaching Conversations and Cultivate Coaching Skills Mastery by Satyam Veronica Chalmers
  17. Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership by Peter Hawkins

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you start a coaching conversation?

The best way to start a coaching conversation is by asking the client about their goals and what they hope to achieve through coaching. You can also ask them about their current challenges and what’s been stopping them from achieving their goals. This helps to establish trust and create a positive rapport between coach and client.

How do you have an effective coaching conversation?

To have an effective coaching conversation, it’s important to maintain a positive and supportive attitude while helping the client to explore their goals and challenges. It’s also important to be flexible and adapt to the client’s needs, preferences, and unique situation. In addition, the coach should be prepared to offer advice and guidance when needed, but ultimately it’s up to the client to find their own solutions.

How do you deliver a transformational coaching session?

To deliver a transformational coaching session, you need to be passionate about helping your clients achieve their goals. You should also be prepared to offer your support and guidance when necessary. It’s important to establish trust with your clients and create a positive rapport. You should also be patient and allow your clients the opportunity to explore their thoughts and feelings.

How do you lead a coaching call?

To successfully lead a coaching call, you guide your clients to where they want to be and show them how it’s going to happen with a plan from day one. Be visionary – as the coach, you think more than your clients and help them see what they do not know.


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