Important Coaching Skills You Need to Master

Coaching takes place through conversations and having the right coaching skills can help you have more effective interactions with your clients. Coaching skills can be learned and mastered. You already use these skills much of the time. The difference is mastering these skills so they are of maximum benefit to those you coach.

Four Essential Coaching Skills

What makes a good coach? What are the qualities?  In general, a coach supports his or her client in achieving specific goals or solutions, change processes and personal development. Although there are many skills a coach can fine-tune in order to coach, there are four foundational skills that are critical to master coaching:


A vital skill in becoming an effective coach is the ability to listen. The best way to understand your clients is to listen to them. When they feel that you have really listened to them, you will gain their respect and they will value you more as a coach. True listening is a skill which needs to be learnt and cultivated because the mind functions seven times more quickly than it is possible to speak. Therefore, the mind needs to be slowed down and focused on what the client is saying, and not pay attention to other irrelevant thoughts or distractions. Take a moment now to think of a question that you could use to practice active listening, and resist the impulse to speak. When you have the opportunity, use questions and experience the power of building rapport with others through the power of listening.

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Inquiry is the core of any coaching approach. Inquiring or being curious when you are coaching, helps others deepen their learning as they unfold the answers for themselves. Staying curious when a person is telling their story, encourages them to tell the whole story. This skill requires you to ask useful questions and pull forth the brilliance from the other person. Inquiry involves asking stimulating questions for their sake, rather than for yours. Asking questions will also help you understand your clients better. When inquiring for insight, it’s important to avoid placing blame and focus on the future rather than the past.

Giving Feedback

Another coaching skill you need to master is giving effective feedback. In their book, Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well, authors Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen categorized feedback into three types: appreciation (communicating success), coaching (giving corrective feedback on how to do something differently in future), and evaluation (providing negative feedback using tact and diplomacy). When giving appreciation, a coach needs to make sure the entire message is positive. When giving coaching, coaches need to be clear about their intentions and focus on positive behaviors and outcomes for the future. And when it comes to giving evaluation, it is important not to mix negative and positive messages. To do this, a coach must ensure that appreciation and coaching are given prior to the need for giving evaluation.

Building Rapport

Good relationships can be very instrumental in the success of a coach. So how do you build rapport with clients? First, you need to care about them. As much as your clients care about your knowledge, expertise, and accomplishments, they care even more about the level of concern you have for them. Building rapport hinges on four actions: engaging, listening with empathy, framing, and committing. Engaging clients occurs when you show genuine concern and interest in their business and its problems. Listening with understanding and empathy is possible if you put yourself in your client’s shoes when you listen to their concerns, purpose, vision, and desires. Framing what the client has said is the third action in building rapport. Make sure you have formed an accurate understanding of your client’s problems and concerns. Committing is the final action for developing rapport. Communicate enthusiastically your plan of action for solving the client’s problems and help them see what it will take to achieve the end result.

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Jeannie Cotter
Writer, Coaches Training Blog community

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