Ben here. Thanks for all your appreciation and questions in the blog. I love it!
In response to the last blog post Cliff Haggerty asked, “Something else I have begun to wonder about is transitions. Specifically beginning and ending sessions. Do you have top strategies for transitioning clients from their lives, traveling and arriving to the session? And what about completing?”
I asked Donna, my co-facilitator and co-conspirator, about transitioning clients and I was surprised that her response was so different than mine. We don’t part ways this dramatically often around coaching and transformation so the difference intrigues me.
Basically, Donna’s response was, “It’s like any other conversation. It has a beginning, middle, and end. They arrive and you engage in small talk to get into relationship. Often the small talk is about what just happened to them before they come into the room, so that they can let go of that last situation and come into the coaching conversation. Then you jump in to coaching and the jump starts with a simple question, ‘What should we be working on today?’ From that question we create how we will work together in today’s session. When we are done, we wrap with a summary and discussion of what they are working on until the next meeting.”
In contrast, my transitions are an ongoing, evolving affair filled with intrigue, pushing clients boundaries, and head games. It’s all very exciting I assure you.
In the first few sessions with new clients, my transitions are exactly like Donna’s; after that, I’m off and flying.
Early in the coaching, I usually have a conversation with clients about how busy they are, about how much their mind is running, and about how they can slow things down and calm themselves down by connecting with the body and the breath.
Once they are on board with this concept, I tell them we are going to, “practice connecting with the breath at the beginning of each coaching session.” That gives me permission to do some guided breathing and centering to transition people into the space and ground them.
In the first five sessions we explore their spiritual beliefs. I’m sussing the situation out and asking myself, “Do they have a spiritual approach I can meld with and use to deepen the space?”
If they don’t have a strong spiritual side, the coaching includes a conversation about how they can take their power back, (someone or something is always making them feel some way they don’t want to feel) by learning how to shift their “states of being”. We talk about the power of setting intent around how they are “being” when they are with co-workers and family members.
A Type One client told me today, “Remember the guy at work that I talked with you about last week? The guy I constantly do battle with? He actually smiled at me in the last meeting. I’ve totally changed the way I relate to him and I think we’re starting to enjoy each other!”
My client is still attached to some of the Type One related resentment and anger, but she’s pleased with the results she’s getting by shifting her state of being into Openness and Connection at work.
Now I have permission to practice setting intent with her, so I “set intention and ground the space” before each session. And I end with some form of spoken gratitude for what has happened in the session. Often this closing prayer feels like a wrap up/review of the session and a deeper claiming of the changes in being, or behavior, we have decided to take on. (Yes, I even do this with many of my CEO clients!)
If I find out that a coaching client prays regularly, I take my spiritual shackles off. I pray with them before and after sessions and I let it rip!
Soon I’m claiming all kinds of shifts for them that come right out of the content of coaching conversations. By the end of closing prayer, there are times when I’m practically yelling with conviction and end it breathing hard. (I’m not suggesting you do this, I’m just giving you a look at the breadth of what’s possible here.)
A few clients think it’s a little weird, but most of them get into it… and they have reminded me if I forget to open or close our meetings properly.
In a session last week one of my newer coaching clients said, “Ben we need to talk more about the spiritual side. That prayer stuff you do at the beginning and end…. I want to learn how to do that!”
So, I’d say feel your clients out, ask permission, use language they are comfortable with to frame what you are doing, and push the edge a little to see what they can hold. You might be surprised.