Deep Coaching Tutorial

Last week, we talked about ‘going deep’ with your coaching clients.

The idea of pushing past the ‘presented problem’ to see something deeper

…something profound, precious, rare

.…just like you would dive beneath the surface to see beyond the ‘tip of the iceberg’.


HOW do you go deeper with your client?

Here’s an example of a coaching model for going deeper.

I call it the Iceberg Model:

Iceberg Conversation

The Iceberg Model encompasses three ‘domains’ of experience.

Each domain can emerge in a coaching session.

You can coach inside of a single domain

…or coach to all three.

Domain #1: Conversation

Conversation is what’s said and done on the SURFACE:

  • What is the client saying?
  • What is your client doing?
  • What are other people saying?
  • What are the people in your client’s life doing?

If you recall your last coaching session like a movie’s plot points, you’re

recalling the CONVERSATION.

Domain #2: Being

Being is how your client shows up in life…

…their mindset, their emotions, and what’s really going on ‘deep down’.

Being is often thought of as an ‘invisible x-factor’.

Being is often thought of as an ‘invisible x-factor’.”

When you notice your clients attitude, demeanor, or tone

…you’re seeing their BEING.

And although you can observe some aspects of your client’s being…

…some aspects of being can only be revealed to you by your client.

Think of ‘Being’ as all the deeper meanings underneath the surface talk.

Think of ‘Being’ as all the deeper agendas, feelings, and motivations behind the surface action.

Domain #3: Impact

Impact is the ‘domino effect’ that stems from your client’s Conversation and Being.

Think of the Impact as consequences… the ‘fruit’ of your client’s labor.

Think of the Impact as consequences… the ‘fruit’ of your client’s labor.”

In the largest scope, your client’s entire life is the Impact of who they’ve been, and what they’ve done.

How do you use the ‘Iceberg Model’ to coach deeper?

Imagine your client tells you the following…

“I hate my mother because she’s constantly trying to control me.”

“And my team at work… they are a bunch of unreliable morons. I need to

make them ‘feel the pain’ because they missed a major deadline the other day.”

“And my ex-husband is threatening me with a custody battle. If he wins,

I’m going to make his life a living hell.”

“My life is falling apart. I’m just a horrible person. What’s wrong with me??”

(And, YES… These are things my clients have actually said to me.)

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What part of the ‘Iceberg Model’ is the client displaying to you?

If you said ‘Conversation’, you hit the nail on the head.

You can see your client is…

  • Talking to you about what’s happening.
  • Talking about their actions (and the actions of others).
  • Talking to the people around them.

All these are forms of Conversation

…the surface action

…things people are saying.

All these are forms of Conversation…the surface action…things people are saying.”

This is your starting point.

Your client is engaging with you in the Conversation domain.

The problem you face?

You’ve got to move the coaching session BEYOND that Conversation.

And your client’s whole life is positioned to MAINTAIN that conversation.

In fact, it’s likely that your client, their situation, and the people in their life…

…are completely dominated by that Conversation.

Everybody’s probably living in reaction to that Conversation.

Too many coaches chase after the ‘presenting Conversation’…

…like a dog chasing a bone.

Don’t get hooked on the Conversation.

Don’t get caught in reaction.

(Or, if you do, step away from the drama and cultivate a clean space for yourself.)

You’re supposed to be their coach, remember?

…not just another bystander.

BOTTOM LINE: If you get caught up in your client’s Conversations…

…then that coaching session is just another reaction to the conversions around your client.

Then you join the rest of the window-dressing in your client’s life, along with…

friends that listen to their conversation…

…and bystanders that watch their drama unfold.

Instead, flip the script, come from wisdom, and explore past the ‘tip of the iceberg’...

…the domains that lie under the surface.

What’s beneath the surface?

Iceberg Talk & Action

In this orientation of the Iceberg Model, notice that both ‘Being’ and ‘Impact’ are beneath the surface.

You could explore how your client is Being.

That’ll open up a whole new domain for your coaching session with that client.

In this example, here are a few questions you could use to explore the ‘Being’ domain:

  • How are you being about your mother when she tries to control you?”
  • How are you being about that deadline your team missed?”
  • Why do you want your team to ‘feel the pain’?”
  • Why are you feeling that way about your ex-husband?”
  • What do you mean that you’re a horrible person? Why do you think that?”
  • “Who are you being at work right now?”
  • Who is your mother to you?”
  • “Who are you being in relation to your ex-husband?”
  • “What are you really up to with your team?”

Notice that all these questions are pointing to

  • How your client is showing up in life.
  • Your client’s emotion or mindset.
  • Your client’s attitude, demeanor, or tone.
  • What your client is really up to ‘deep down’.

This exploration alone pushes the conversation deeper

…into the Being domain

…a part of your client’s life that they haven’t yet explored with you.

Maybe your client is so caught up with the ‘Conversations’ in their life…

…that they’re not even paying attention to who they’re Being.

How is this client likely ‘Being’ about their challenges?





Maybe that way of Being is the source of the surface Conversation they shared with you.

Can you imagine how much value that insight might open up in the coaching session?

Who your client is Being (in relationship to those Conversations)…

…might totally TRANSFORM their experience of the SAME CONVERSATION.

You could explore the Impact in your client’s life.

Can you imagine the Impact this particular Iceberg might create?

There’s probably an Impact on your client

…and their co-workers, mother, and ex-husband.

And I’d bet this client hasn’t completely considered the Impact.

How would we know?

Because if they thought deeply about these Impacts, they might stop their current Conversation.

Here are a few questions you could use with that client to explore the ‘Impact’ domain:

  • What’s the impact of this conversation on your life right now?”
  • “What’s the impact of this missed deadline… on you… on your team… on your job?”
  • What will be the impact in the future if the conversation with your mother continues in this way?”
  • How is all that working out for you currently?”
  • “What do you experience when you think that you’re a ‘horrible person’?”

Exploring the Impact might help your client connect the dots

…between the current Conversation in their life…

…and the consequences of these Conversations.

There are lots of angles to the ‘impact’, but the common thread is THIS:

The impact always stems from a CAUSE or SOURCE.

Impacts don’t exist in a vacuum.

These ‘deeper domains’ aren’t always what’s hidden, however.

Not every client will start their session with the surface level Conversation domain.

Your client could offer up ANY part of the iceberg

…which ‘flips the iceberg’ on its head.

Rotating Iceberg

That puts other parts of the Iceberg ‘under the surface’.

In these cases, flip the Iceberg Model

…so whichever domain your client shares AT FIRST

…is the ‘tip of the iceberg’… above the surface.

For instance, a client might approach you with a catastrophe in their life…

…a death in the family, or the loss of a job.

They might be sad, scared, or depressed about the situation.

What are they sharing with you (or, at least, showing you) on the surface?

Sounds like the Impact.

Impact Iceberg

Have you ever had a session like that?

Where your client was so wound up with the consequences in their life?

Some clients can’t pry themselves away from the Impact

…and they’ll run to you with their most recent drama.

Going deeper with that client means asking them different questions

Questions about the Conversation domain.


  • “What happened?”
  • “What have you been doing about it?”
  • What do you think about what’s happening?”
  • “What do you have to say about it?”
  • “What do your friends say about what’s happening?”
  • “What are you going to do next?”
  • “What should you do about it?”

These are the kinds of questions I’ll ask a client who’s wound up with the IMPACT.

Yes, I’ll ask these of a client who’s in dire circumstances, or who was recently impacted by tragedy (with all due sensitivity, of course).

And, I’m not saying ‘don’t be sensitive to your client’s pain’.

I’m saying ‘don’t leave them stuck there.’

Why is it important to explore the Conversation with a client stuck in the Impact?

Because a client stuck in the impact takes no action.

You wouldn’t want to leave your client frozen, would you?

Conversations give your client access to transformation.

When the Conversation stops

progress stops.

creation stops.

possibilities die.

Do you know someone who was impacted by tragic events and then their life went into stasis?

They’re living a ‘flat line’ life now…

…and it’s not because of the tragedy.

It’s because they got STUCK in the Impact

…and no one pulled them out.

The people surrounding a client stuck in the Impact will walk around on pins and needles.

You’ll need to be the exception.

Have the conversation those others won’t have.

From time to time, you’ll run across a ‘dream client’…

This client brings the ‘Being’ domain to every session.

They might bring up their mindset, or their perspective, or who they’re becoming in life.

That’s a great start.

Being can be the source of so much in your client’s life.

You’ll likely want to explore the Impact and Conversation domains with that client.

Being Iceberg

Why would you need to explore further than ‘Being’?

Isn’t ‘Being’ as deep as you can go?

Not for this client.

Because Being without Action

…and Being without appreciation of the consequences… is less than empowering.

So, while you’ll still address that client’s Being…

Inquire around what’s happening (the Conversation domain).

Explore the Impact.

When your client brings up a goal, or problem

…no matter how intense the issue is…

…don’t only REACT to it on it’s surface.

Find the deeper domain that cuts through to the breakthroughs and insights your client sorely needs.

That coaching conversation could be truly transformational for your client.

That coaching is worth a high fee.

That coaching is ‘high ticket’.

The simple approach to going deeper?

Deep coaching is as simple as positioning that Iceberg Model in front of you, and then…

  1. Notice what domain your client brings to the session (that’s the tip of the iceberg).
  2. Explore that domain.
  3. Ask questions that address the domains beneath the surface of the iceberg.

Look for what the client is not paying attention to.

What is the client not saying?

Find their ‘blind spots’.

Read between the lines.

Look beneath the surface…

…beyond the ‘tip of the iceberg’…

…towards what’s not yet explored.

Those blind spots…

Those deeper conversations and explorations…

Those icebergs that have so much beneath the surface

They’re just a few questions away.

And all you’ve got to be…


Jeffrey “Always go Deeper” Sooey

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