Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Alessandra Patti (Switzerland)

It is a fact that, in the coaching world, there are indeed many coaching techniques to use. However, my experience in coaching has shown me that one of the best tools to use is to CREATE RAPPORT with the client. The majority of ‘haha’ moments in the client come from the fact that he/she really trusts you as a coach and personal development journey companion.

When we talk about trust, we do not mean seeing the coach as a ‘god’ or that the coach is on a pedestal, but actually the opposite. Being approachable as a coach, and showing your human side and your weaknesses are certainly of help. With this, I don’t mean that you should vent your problems to the coachee or being emotional every time you have a session. I mean that you don’t have to use perfection as a tool to be seen as an authority from your client. You can be considered the authority in your field, but with another human being, you must stay as humble as possible. This human being is in need of help.

As we learn the coaching tools, an important one to remember is that the client always has the answer within, and she/he is as wise as a the coach. However, this person is now in a black tunnel and we happen to be outside of that tunnel and provide the light for this person to get out. We do not go inside the tunnel to stay- we temporarily get in just enough to shine that light that will eventually help the client to surface.

Having said that, would you ever allow to the tunnel someone that you don’t trust? The answer is no, of course. This is why, creating rapport is so important.  Here some of my recommendations:

  1. When you have the first meeting with a potential client, it really does help to talk a bit about yourself. My target audience are people who want to be more assertive by means of saying the right yes’s and no’s to the right people and situations. Therefore, I always tell the story of how difficult for me was to say NO to my family, for instance, and how that was causing me issues, with my own values and self-care. This creates rapport and helps the person opening up, thing that eventually will lead the person to trust you and empathise.
  2. When you are having conversations and sessions with an existing client, with the time, this person will consider you as a companion and be glad to know you are there (again, in a healthy way, not like a ‘pillar’ that never falls or a wisdom god). Therefore, I would recommend, never to act like a ‘bank’ – if the person needs extra time for a session, which has been really intense and needs extra effort, or if you are in touch via chat or emails for an urgent worry, attend to it- with boundaries of course (night calls are never a good idea), and accept that some extra work is needed. Because we are dealing with people.
  3. The technique of mirroring the client works great, and not only to make them feel more comfortable, but also to feel yourself at ease. By mirroring the tone of voice and the posture, even the eye-blinking if possible, establishes a relationship of empathy and complicity that is absolutely necessary for the person, and for the coach as well, to ask the best questions that unlock the client’s potential or limiting beliefs on a certain issue. I usually mirror the posture and change it as many times as the client does. It is a small thing to do and you have to make sure you do not lose your focus and listening ability why you do it.
  4. Role play exercises. Your client needs to do a lot of work by himself/herself, in order to process what is discussed between you and in order to see progress. There are situations which are hard to reproduce, such as the relationship with a manager, for example. I give you a practical example. A client of mine struggled to tell a potential employer about certain tasks that he was not willing to compromise on in his future job. Clearly, it is a hard thing to say, because if you need the job and at the same time you do not know your manager, assertiveness is not exactly the most obvious thing to do. People tend to want to please their future bosses, and then, once they are in, of course they will feel more entitled to express their own needs, at some point.

Yet, it was necessary to do it before taking the job. My client had learnt that compromising too much on certain tasks would have brought unhappiness in his life. So we went ahead and roleplayed. I was the manager and he was himself. Then we changed, and he had to be the manager. This helped him being in the shoes of that particular person and embrace the idea that maybe the manager was not willing to compromise, and that he might not get the job for this.

Then our dialogue went on like this:

  • Coach: Knowing that you might not get the job, for not wanting to do a certain task that do not belong to your values or studies, how do you feel?
  • Client: A bit lost, I really need a job, but I guess I can still keep looking
  • Coach: OK, sounds like you need time to think about it. The next question from my side could be this: From 1 to 10, how much are you willing to compromise on your tasks, in order to get this job?
  • Client: 2… I really feel I would be unhappy. So unfair! I like this company.
  • Coach: Think about your boundaries and priorities. That might help. I suggest you roleplay again in front of the mirror and ask yourself these questions before your next meeting with the manager.
  • Client: Yes, I will try that.

Rapport is the primary condition from where you can expect your client’s progress and the willingness to go through exercises that can be a challenge and uncomfortable to the client.

About Alessandra Patti

Alessandra is originally from Italy, resides in Zurich, Switzerland, where she founded her Coaching company, FindYourWay. She is an accredited practitioner coach (Noble Manhattan Ltd)S, but also an author (she co-authors a great book on coaching exercises called “Activate your Life- 50 Transformational Exercises from Coaches around the world”, available on Amazon). She also has a master’s degree in Languages & Translation and 2 more diplomas in Marketing and Psychology.






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