The importance of following the client’s pace

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been reflecting on a recent coaching session with a new client.

Often the first session focuses on agreeing the aims of the coaching: exploring context, gathering data, building rapport and understanding and identifying the long term WHAT – i.e. what the client wants to change. Diving beneath the iceberg to address limiting beliefs that may be holding someone back on the HOW tends to come later, once rapport has been firmly established.

On this particular occasion it was our first session together; but because we knew each other well and trust was already high, we virtually jumped straight in at the deep end and the session quickly became both intense and emotional.

Usually I tend to coach for 2 to 2.5 hours, but after only 90 minutes she asked to stop. We had covered a lot of ground very quickly and she was feeling very tired and a bit overwhelmed. We agreed that she would benefit from some time out to process the breakthrough that had occurred.

It was such a good reminder of the importance of checking in with your client regularly during a coaching session. As a former consultant for 20+ years I have to work hard to ensure I don’t push the agenda. Particularly when I can sense there is more to uncover. I’m grateful that she felt able to say when it was enough for one day. A good lesson for me – and something I need to be more mindful of in the future.

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