Your success as a coach will heavily depend on how effective you are as you communicate with your coaching clients. While the definition of effective communication may be subjective to a certain extent, there are principles that all communication must adhere to in order to be effective. This article discusses the 7 C’s of clear communication that will make you a better coach
When communicating with your coaching clients, make sure that everything that you say or write is clear. Clarity can be attained in several ways, such as focusing on only one message in each sentence or email. Such clarity will be enhanced once you decide what exactly you want to communicate before you put across your message. The clarity in your mind will be transmitted to your coaching client through the message you convey.
Example of Lack of Clarity:
I am writing to you about your update last evening, and also finding out about our scheduled coaching session next week.
In the example above, the recipient will ask himself several questions, such as what did Jimmy think of the update and what is he trying to say about the session next week? In short, the email lacks clarity.
Example of Clarity in Communication:
Thanks for the update you sent me last evening. I am glad that you have made so much progress on the goals for this week. Let me know if you run into any difficulties with the other targets for this week and I will help in any way I can.
In this example, the sender has given his reaction to the update sent earlier, and he also offers to help in case the recipient encounters challenges with the other tasks left for the week. This is clarity at its best.
Another of the principles of effective communication that is emphasized during coach training is conciseness. Your communication as a coach needs to be as brief as is necessary to convey your message to your coaching client. Why use five sentences when one brief sentence can make your point? Verbose or unnecessarily wordy messages are hard to follow, and they often end up being confusing because so many things may be bunched together in a sentence or paragraph.
Communication needs to be concrete. By being concrete, we mean that you avail all the necessary support information to make your message believable. For example, provide statistics and data to support an argument you are making.
Has your coaching client progressed during the time you have been working together to address a given challenge? Provide concrete evidence of that progress as you give feedback on the progress made. Don’t just say, “You have improved a great deal since our first session.” Instead, provide proof of the improvement by showing the different milestones attained towards the attainment of the ultimate goal. In this way, your communication will be concrete and your client will have no doubt about your assertion that he or she has improved or progressed at a commendable pace
It is also important to check your communication for correctness in terms of spelling, punctuation, word use and general grammatical correctness. It is risky for you as a coach to rely on a spelling or grammar checker alone since such tools may miss certain errors.
For instance, you may type “weak” when you intended to write “week.” Such an error can distort your message and damage your credibility as a coach. Avoid such communication blunders by going over your message carefully so that you confirm that each word or phrase is the appropriate one to convey your thoughts.
Your communication should be logical, that is, every aspect of that message has to be linked to the main point you are conveying.
Example of Incoherent Communication:
I am glad to inform you that we can meet, and the video you saw last week is missing but my assistant will be going on leave next month.
The email above is incoherent because it doesn’t focus on one message. For example, it talks about a meeting, and then veers off to a video before talking about someone going on leave. What is the connection between all those bits and pieces? The recipient doesn’t know what to make of that email!
Example of Coherent Communication:
I am glad to let you know that we can meet for an hour on Thursday next week at my office at 10am. Let me know if this arrangement suits you.
In this example, the recipient can clearly see that the writer is providing details about an appointment and that the writer would like the recipient to confirm whether the arrangements are suitable for her. This email is coherent.
A complete message is one in which the recipient has been given all the relevant information that they need, as well as a clear indication of what next steps the recipient should take. The email example above sent by Andrew to Jessica illustrates this element of effective communication. The sender provides details of the day, time, venue and duration of a proposed meeting. The sender then closes by asking the recipient to confirm that she is comfortable with those arrangements. Consequently, the recipient has all the information necessary to take the necessary action (confirm that she will attend that meeting)
As a coach, you should endeavor to be courteous at all times while communicating to your coaching clients. Courteousness is about being honest, respectful and friendly. This approach to communication strengthens your relationship with your clients and ensures that your message will be received positively.
For example, a need may arise to inform your coaching client that he or she has fallen behind on the goals that you had agreed upon. How you convey that message will determine whether the client becomes defensive, or adjusts and steers back on course.
Example of Lack of Courtesy:
This is the third time you are failing to meet your weekly targets on the homework I give you. Are you really serious about the coaching sessions?
Example of Courtesy:
I hope you had a great weekend. I am checking in to find out how you are progressing with the homework that we agreed upon during our last session. Did you encounter any unexpected challenges? Please get in touch and let me know how I can be of help so that we stay on course to attain all the goals we set for this month.
In the first example, the sender uses an accusatory or aggressive tone that doesn’t recognize that the client may have good intentions but other factors could have prevented her from doing what was expected of her. There’s even no salutation at the start of the message! If you were the client, would you continue working with such a coach? The second example displays courtesy and the recipient may feel encouraged to open up about why she didn’t report back as expected. At the very least, she will feel that the coach is genuinely concerned about helping her, so she will double her efforts to attain the goals set.
As you can see, how you put across your message matters a great deal if you are to be a successful coach. Start implementing the 7 C’s of effective communication on a daily basis and see how your coaching business grows.
To Your Success,
Jairek Robbins and Team PCU
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