How to Help Your Coaching Conversations Stay Focused in 2 Minutes Or Less

By Jonathan Reitz

August 28, 2014

The most awkward moment I face in my coaching conversations looks like this:

We’ll call my client Danny (not his real name). Danny has come to a serious moment of learning or self-realization. The lightbulb has gone off multiple times.

Then I have to drop the bomb. I get to ask Danny “How does this connect to the purpose of our coaching relationship?”

How's Your Coaching Focus? photo credit: Daveography.ca via photopin cc

My stomach tightens up every time I ask a question like this. My nerves become a jumble. There is no guarantee that the client will actually be able to connect what they’re learning with why we’re talking.

And when they can’t…it is AWKWARD.

Asking a client to move away from the insights their having and back to why they have a coach in the first place is never any fun…in the moment.

But this motion is what makes the difference between a tightly focused coaching relationship and one that falls short of expectation.

This blog focuses on making you a better coach. We want to explore mindsets, strategies and in-the-moment skills that help you serve your clients as effectively as possible. Managing the tension between the realizations the client is having and why the coaching relationship exists is one of the coach’s harder tasks.

Here’s what we know:

The last big topic is the matter of focus. Let’s hone in from both the client’s perspective and the coach’s.

Focus in coaching relationships lives in the connection between small life changes and accomplishing the client’s goals.

Think about as Big Picture v. Small Picture.

  • Big picture can be described change toward the client’s (and God’s) purpose.
  • Small picture is how the client is living differently every day.

The enemy of focus in coaching is a disconnection between small life change and big picture accomplishments or progress. When one doesn’t set up the other, the relationship gets scattered. 

This idea even helps the client who is all over the place. Some of my coaching clients only have a conceptual relationship with focus. I bet you can relate. Helping a client connect what they’re working on or changing in their lives (small picture) and what they really want to accomplish (big picture) is often all the nudging needed to move them forward.

Managing this tension on-the-fly in coaching is a key step to masterful coaching.

Sometimes you have to bottom line your client and ask “What connection do you see between the learning moment you just had and what we’re here to accomplish?” I have to admit, I don’t see the connection every time.

But as long as the client sees the connection and wants to pursue it, it’s a viable coaching topic.

The coach has to be aware of the tension, but the client has to actually and accurately make the connections come to life.

How do you do it? How do you keep your clients on focus and en route to their goals?


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 This post appeared originally on www.jonathanreitz.com   All rights reserved.  For more from Jonathan Reitz, please click here.

Jonathan ReitzJonathan Reitz has a number of impressive titles at CoachNet Global (Chairman/CEO/Guy with Coffee).  Jonathan has been coaching for over 10 years and has worked with over 500 clients in the church, the non-profit sector and the business world. 

  “Coaching plays a part in the kind of leadership the world needs,” says Jonathan Reitz.  “I want to be a part of that.”

For a daily coaching question from Jonathan Reitz, follow him on Twitter @jonathanreitz  Or, you can email him at jonathan@coachnet.org or by phone at 440.550.4374.

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