A short introduction on how a Relationship Coach works with clients.
Being a Relationship Coach is one of the most rewarding coaching niches as well as challenging niches in the field of Life Coaching. Challenging, because client's relationship issues are often due to the actions or behaviors of someone else and the internal meanings one places on those behaviors. It is one thing when a coaching client shares that they are struggling to find time to write their new novel and another when the struggle is because of poor behavior – their own, or the behavior of someone else.
A Professional Relationship coach comes to coaching sessions knowing their client’s issues can be very charged emotionally. Also, some clients may have experienced abuse and as a result, may require more therapeutic help than that of a relationship coach. In that type of situation, the relationship coach is trained to spot that need and can skillfully direct their client to the professional for the right kind of help. A skilled Relationship Coach remembers their chief responsibility is to guide their client through the discovery process of inventive or helpful ways to handle stressful situations.
Tools the Relationship Coach May Use in Coaching Sessions.
In the coaching conversation, relationship coaches might ask any one (or all) of the following questions of their clients to help their clients navigate relationship issues the client is facing:
1. UNDERSTAND THE REAL ISSUE
Finding the real problem is not as easy as it may seem. Let me explain. Let’s say a spouse is upset because their partner is late from work. The first step by a professional relationship coach is to understand why a client is upset. The reality is the spouse was late. However it is the meaning the client puts on their partner being late that is causing the problem. It is this frame of meaning that needs exploration. So the relationship coach could just ask “What does your spouse being late mean to you?” Client….. They don’t care about me, I don’t matter, they put their work ahead of me, I can’t trust them, etc…. “ From this response the relationship coach can then explore these meaning and how to either accept them or take action to make changes.
2. LEARNING FROM THE EXPERIENCE
Relationship coaches may ask their client what the client could learn from the experience. By asking this, it allows the client to come to his/her conclusions which will guide the client’s decisions about future steps. The coach does not advise. The foundation of life coaching is that clients come to coaching whole and complete. Clients come ready, willing and able to make their own choices and decisions. The role of the coach is to guide the journey while always allowing the client to determine their destination. Moreover, allowing the client to come to their own conclusions helps the client become more resourceful.
3. ADVANTAGES OF A NEGATIVE EXPERIENCE
In other words, what did the client learn about themselves and the other person or situation? Relationship coaches will ask this question to encourage the client to articulate what the client may have learned from a difficult situation. The client then sees how every experience is educational. As such, even a negative experience has a positive element to it. The Relationship coach will help the client find these nuggets of learning for themselves.
4. RELATIONSHIPS TAKES WORK
If relationships were simple and easy, everyone would be successful all the time. Successful relationships take work. Whatever relationship goal a client may have will take commitment, concentration and focus on the part of the client and often an element of vulnerability, with the client willing to disclose their wants and needs to the other person involved. A relationship coach will remind their client that success takes work but that they will be there to encourage them every step of the way.
5. TAKE A STEP BACK
Relationships can certainly be charged environments. One of the best coaching tools is to help the client “take a step back” to observe instead of reacting. Maybe the relationship coach will encourage their client to take a few deep breaths before responding to a situation. Deep breathing centers and quiets an individual. In a difficult situation, taking a few deep breaths before speaking or taking any action can avoid escalating the issue and lead to more constructive problem solving.
6. ACCEPT THE REALITY
Sometimes things can go wrong or do not work in relationships. We can have good intentions, and our approach was reasonable, but it just was not accepted in a positive way. The fact that things can go wrong is simply a fact of life. If a situation resolves in a way that is undesirable and if the resolution cannot be altered, then we want our clients to move forward and perhaps set a new goal. The relationship coach is trained to guide their client through this difficult time and into a new journey with a new focus and new goals.
7. ALTER THE IMAGE
If a memory proves to be painful for a client (i.e., the end of a relationship), the relationship coach can help the client reframe the memory. During the coaching conversation, the coach might encourage their client to imagine ways they could reduce the pain of the memory. If the client is “stuck” and can’t come up with anything on their own, the coach can offer to brainstorm with the client and see if together they can create a list of options.
8. LEARN TO LET GO
In the coaching conversation, the client will discover through his or her words whether or not a situation can be remedied. If the client determines nothing can be done, the client will reach the ultimate conclusion that they need to let go and move forward. The skilled relationship coach might explore the conversation in that direction. The coach also supports the client and offers positive feedback as the client moves through the difficulty of relinquishing control over a situation that cannot be changed.
9. A FRESH PERSPECTIVE
The relationship coach will ask the client to explore other ways of looking at the situation. The coach can set up a scenario that allows the client to look at the situation objectively, from “outside”. As the client gains distance from the problem, solutions will often become clearer. Moreover, the client will have defined his or her solution which is always the goal in life coaching.
10. CREATING A SAFE SPACE
This point should be listed at the top. The relationship coach will create a safe space for the client to express their feelings. Emotions can be extreme in relationships, and if appropriate, the coach may ask the client for suggestions as to how the client could find a safe space to vent any anger, sadness or grief. The relationship coach wants to express sincere empathy and to care for their client. Many times with deep emotions the only way to move forward is by accepting and expressing our inner feelings.
Summary of Relationship Coaching
All coaching involves some aspect of relationship coaching. These relationships can be employee/boss, husband/wife, parent/child but all coaches work with clients on relationships at some point. We are relational beings and no matter what goals we are working on at some point they will involve others. So it is important that all coaches no matter the niche have some comfort and expertise in dealing with relationships. For the coach that finds particular excitement and challenge working with relationships they might want to consider the specialty niche of being a Relationship Coach.