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This is the second in a series of three books about

Personal coaching.

Part 1, “Personal Coaching” is about what Personal

Coaching is and offers a surview of the most popular

models for Personal Coaching (or “Life Coaching”) and

Self Coaching.

Part 2, “Techniques for Personal Coaching and Self

Coaching” introduces you to the most powerful coaching

techniques in use and describes the most successful

questions and strategies for coaching.

Part 3, “Essential Knowledge for Personal Coaches”, is a

practical standard reference work highlighting the

knowledge and skills that are indispensable for anybody

who is considering life coaching as a career or as a

serious self coaching process,

Dean Amory's Complete Life Coaching and Personal

Coaching Course is your best guide for coaching your

coachees and yourself towards maximizing your life

potential and achieving a happier and more fulfilled life.

Personal Coaching is an invaluable training manual for

anybody who takes life coaching seriously.



Listening is an art. A lot of people stop talking and in their

mind they're already trying to think of what they're going to

say next. That is not really listening. If you are (pre)occupied

with your own thoughts, then there is no room for the

coachee anymore. Not really.

And even if you are listening and not busy with your own

thoughts on the matter, listening is so much more than just

hearing the words and being able to repeat them. To get the

essence of what's being said -the words behind the words, is

just as important, if not more so. While the coachee is telling

his story, try to also listen for things like a slip of the tongue,

jokes, omissions, recurring themes, metaphors and

contradictions. They can speak volumes.

Apart from the intonations you can pick out the different

emotions in the coachee's voice. Body language and other

signals can strengthen or weaken the story. Contradictions

are called incongruence and the coach can either keep these

in mind or ask about them. Make sure you do this carefully,

so the coachee won't feel caught out.

In active listening, the coach has an open and alert attitude,

he's completely there for the coachee and is peeling his ears,

so to speak.

To listen empathically means the coach shows a lot of

understanding for what the coachee is experiencing and in a

way he manages to convey this warm understanding to the

coachee, who can appreciate it.

Before asking questions, we must learn to listen attentively

and effectively. Active listening includes a number of


techniques: encouraging, paraphrasing, reflecting feelings,

and summarizing. But also other techniques are important.

Body language

Body language is important. Excessive eye-contact may be

felt as threatening. Not maintaining enough eye-contact on

the other hand might be interpreted as a lack of interest (e.g.

when listener is repeatedly looking at their watch or

documents on their desk!), or as an indication that the

listener is hiding information or is not sufficiently open or

honest. Body language includes (affirmative) head nodding

and the use of silence, which are powerful tools in any


Gerard Egan describes the correct position for listening as

follows :

SOLER S : Sit squarely, face coachee

O: keep an Open posture

L: Lean forward when appropriate

E: maintain regular Eye contact (don’t stare)

R: Relaxed body language

Show coachees that you are interested in the situations,

experiences and feelings that they are communicating and

that you care not only about what they are saying, but also

about how this affects them.


Humming, and short expressions like “Yes”, ”I see" … are

used to confirm coachee that you are listening to him keenly.

These expressions also help them to understand which part

of their message is being appreciated and to elaborate on

that particular topic.


Asking questions is another way of showing your interest

and making coachees feel understood, valued, respected and

listened to.

In its purest form, life coaching is a technique that uses

powerful questions to facilitate you in finding your own

answers. (Life-coaching for dummies – Jeni Mumford)

Clarifying and reflective questions often are a very good


Examples of clarifying questions:


Tell me more about …


Go on …


I am interested to hear more about …


What did you do then?


You say …, why is this so ?


Is this always the case?


1. Restate what you heard the trainee say

2. Listen for confirmation that what you are saying is correct

3. Encourage trainees to tell you if you are right or wrong

Examples of reflective questions:


How was this different from …?


What would it look like if …?


What would happen if …?


What do you wish …?


What did you want him to do instead?


How would this impact / change … ?

Often enough, it is also very useful to repeat in some way

what they have said.

This forces coachees to concentrate on what you are saying,

thus helping them to take some distance from their own

story and obtain an improved general view of the whole


situation. By repeating coachees’ messages, you also

stimulate their thought process, without introducing new


Different options to repeat a message are available:

1. Parroting : literally echo their exact words. Often, only

the last words are repeated (mirror-questions) in an

invitation to amplify on them. The use of parroting

should however be limited, since hearing your own

words echoed repeatedly soon becomes very annoying.

2. Repeating Content: This technique goes beyond

parroting: The coachee’s exact words are repeated,

inviting them to elaborate on their story or to continue


3. Repeating Conflict: Repeat both sides of a conflict

situation, opposing pros and cons stimulate coachee to

make a considered choice.

4. Paraphrasing or Reflecting Meaning: Repeating

coachee’s message in your own words, that is: reflecting

the facts or ideas, but not the emotions and without

getting emotionally involved, may open new


Often an element of acknowledgement or positive feedback

will be part of the paraphrasing, thus motivating the coachee

to continue sharing.

Simultaneously, paraphrasing is

- either a request for verification of your perceptions


- or a confirmation that you have correctly understood the



Good openings for paraphrasing are:

- So you think, ….

- You don’t believe that …

- You don’t understand why …

- So, what you are saying is …

- Sounds to me like you ….

- The way you see things …

- To you, this means …

- So, you are saying that …

- I guess it is your opinion that …

- If I understand correctly …

- You’ve always thought …, but now you found out that …

Some manuals use the term “reflecting” to indicate reflection

of meaning (thoughts) only and use “paraphrasing” for

referring to reflecting thoughts AND emotions


Reflecting - or Repeating Feelings - is very similar to

paraphrasing, but instead of reflecting the meaning, the

coach now reflects the emotions that are the basis of

coachee’s words. Reflecting feelings resorts a much

stronger effect, because coachee will experience that

the coach is not only understanding him, but is also

emphatizing with his feelings.

Reflecting feelings is the basis of emphatic listening and

creates rapport. Naming the feeling that you recognize

in their story, helps coachees to define and explore their

own feelings and become more aware of their

seriousness. Reflecting is very useful also when you feel

coachees are rattling information without feeling



Good introductions for reflecting are:

- You feel doubly hurt, because …

- The situation is worrying you, …

- You are disappointed, …

- You feel it’s a shame, …

- You are feeling sad, …

- You were angry, because …

- You don’t dare to, …

- You are afraid, …

- You must be very fond of him.

- You feel you have failed …

- You are worried that you …

- You had the strong feeling that …

- Yet, I notice some doubt in your voice

- You don’t sound very convinced though

- And yet, you sound sad. Maybe you can tell me what


- I sense you are still angry, troubled, mixed up,

confused … maybe that’s why …

6. Clarifying brings unclear or vague subjects into

sharper focus. It is useful to confirm what was said, to

get supplementary information, to present fresh points of

view or add details, or to shed light on new elements.


- Let me see if I’ve got it all …

- Let me try to state what I think you said …

7. Summative Reflection involves summarizing the

message in order to provide a structured, complete and

comprehensive feedback. Aside from organizing and

integrating the major aspects of the dialogue,

summarizing also establishes a basis for further


discussion and offers a sense of progress in the


It is required to also plan regular summaries and

evaluations during which you


repeat the essence of what has been said or done


provide a clear image of the situation


locate where coachee is with respect to the total


Logical moments for summarizing and evaluating are:


At the start and end of each session


At transiting to a new phase


At any moment that you feel a summary might be

helpful to keep track of the situation or to stimulate

the coachee.

Alternatively, it is a good idea to ask the coachees every

now and then to summarize and evaluate things

themselves. This will help you to take notice of

- Their point of view

- Which elements have stuck

- What is most important to them now

- What they are “forgetting”

- The most important elements in a summary are:


Accurate summary of core material


Clarity and structure


Reflection of content


Reflection of feelings


Deeper empathy

Possible opening lines for summarizing:

A. X, let’s see how far you got until now:

- You came to me X weeks ago, because … and because ….

- We determined that …, because ….


- Is there something you would like to add at this point?

B. So, to summarize, you say that …, is that correct?

C. At that moment, you set yourself the target of …. Because


- To this end, we composed an action plan

- Now, the question is when to start with the execution

of this plan.

D. Summarizing your story, you reported that … , but …, and

… - Can you agree with this presentation?

E. This seems a good moment to summarize what we have

done during this session.

- Is there something you want to add?

- How did you experience the conversation?

- By the next session, I would like you

- to consider / go through today’s points again

- to start the actions we agreed upon

- Which would allow us to proceed next time with ….

F. Is there anything you want to add?


I don't understand why my wife is getting worked up, I for

instance never get mad!!

Still I hear a bit of anger in your voice. Your wife might

perceive this as you being angry.

If you think it helps, I'm quite willing to do it, you know?

You don't sound convinced, what might be holding you



I actually wanted to stop coming here as I think I'm doing

much better now.

I'm glad you're feeling a lot better and of course you're

free to stop whenever you want. However I've noticed

there are still some things that seem to trouble you...

I haven't touched a drink in weeks, it's clear I'm not an

alcoholic... (hiccup)

Being an alcoholic might be too strong a word, but

something tells me you still do have a drink regularly.

I don't know what's wrong with me or where to start.

We can take our time. You sound very sad, maybe you

could tell me what has happened?

8. Empathy and deeper empathy

In coaching you want to build up a trusting relationship with

your coachee in a short timespan. The coachee has often

heard from people around him things like 'it's nothing to

worry about', 'it will be all right', 'don't get worked up, you

only make it worse' and more well intended things that

unintentionally often made him shut up. With you he is

allowed, or rather he should open up and get rid of this

threshold. So you want to let him know he's at the right

address with his story, his emotions and how he experiences


By showing him empathy, you welcome his inner

experiences and invite him to explore his own feelings.

Empathy is not a technique by itself, it is often part of

paraphrasing or reflecting. You not only express empathy in

the words you use, but also in your modulation, intonation

and by showing the right feelings.


Understanding, empathy and deep empathy are all in line

and in a way connected. Understanding is more a rational

thing and involves mainly intelligence. Empathy involves

feelings, including your own feelings as a human being and

as coach.

Deep empathy even goes one step further. It goes right into

the inner world of experiencing of the coachee for a short

while. In other words, with deep empathy you can virtually

feel what the coachee must be experiencing. You express the

emotions you feel the coachee has. This can be overdone, not

every coachee expects a strong emotional reaction from his

coach. So use and express deep empathy appropriately and


In these exercises successive understanding, empathy and

deeper empathy are shown.

Mother is connected to all these tubes and can hardly say a

thing anymore. She's also drugged up with medicines.


That must be an awful situation.


I can imagine it must be very emotional to see your

mother lying there so helplessly.

(Deep empathy)

I can tell you're suffering, you would so much like for

her to get well but there's nothing you can do about it

and you feel powerless.

Near my house kids hang out; it's very noisy, they fight

regularly, and there's trash everywhere.


It must be annoying; all that noise, aggression and mess.



It must be threatening; so close to your home, and that

day in day out.

(Deep empathy)

Looks like it really troubles you. You were looking

forward to living in a nice neighbourhood with your

children and now it turns out to be just the opposite.

I got fired last week, out of the blue.


Gosh, that must have been quite a shock.


That's terrible, and you thought you would get that


(Deep Empathy)

Of course you feel desperate and betrayed. I would really

like to try and help you to get over it.

“Empathy” is the capacity to recognize (and, to some

extent,share) feelings expressed by others and to

understand their circumstances, point of view and thoughts.

Roadblocks to empathy

There are a number of common ‘roadblocks’ that can

prevent empathy (Jarvis et al., 1995).

These include:

- ordering or commanding

- warning or threatening

- arguing or persuading

- moralising

- ridiculing or labelling

- giving advice or providing solutions

It is also important to avoid:


- insincerity

- repetition

- clichés

- using jargon

- collusion

“Deeper empathy” is the ability to use empathy to help

others understand themselves, their world, personal

situation, thoughts and feelings better and in another


Often the coach will

1. Use questions like “Could it be …”, “Perhaps you might see

…”, “I feel you may think now …” , “you might ask yourself…”,

“Perhaps you feel …”, “it may be that …”, “it seems as if you

are feeling …”

2. Followed by a reflection of information implied by

cochee’s message, but not put into words by them. This

might include naming of themes, patterns, isolated elements

or inconsistencies of thoughts or feelings.

3. and by the suggestion of alternative viewpoints or


Example (E = empathy / E+ = deeper empathy)

Statement coachee: “I cannot bear to see her laying there

like that.”


I can imagine it must be very emotional to see her

laying there so helplessly.

E+: I can tell you are suffering, you would so much like her

to get well but there is nothing you can do about it and you

feel powerless.



9. Evaluation

In a coaching conversation, you will not want to stop at

listening. Towards the end of the conversation, you will

want the coachee to take a next step, start changing things,

commit to action.


- So, where does this leave us?

- What will you do next?

- How will this help you to proceed towards your goal?

- What will be your first step now?



Asking questions is how we find things out.

An excellent way to do this is “the FRRO technique”.

“FRRO” stands for:


Put aside your own reactions,





concentrate on getting as much

useful and objective information as

possible. Discover the story behind

the story, then pull the elements

that are useful for reaching the

coachee’s goal to foreground


See the chapter on repeating the

coachee’s message.

Show you

understand, show you care.


Checking the coachee’s story,

expectations and beliefs helps to

build realistic expectations.


Start with open questions and ask

factual questions first, before

proceeding to enquiring about


The best way to start asking, is by asking open questions

Open questions generally do not start with a verb, but start

with a pronoun: who, what, why, when, where, how, how

many, which, …


The advantage of using open questions is that they will

evoke a more detailed response than other types of

questions. They are therefore the obvious questions to ask

when you want to collect information, stimulate the coachee

to talk or stimulate them to put their feelings or thoughts

into words.

Exploring questions are very useful during the coaching


For putting the problem in the right context and


Which other feelings play a part?

For scanning and identifying possible goals

For exploring internal and exterior resources

For examining the various paths that might be useful to

achieve the goal


Exploring exact meaning of statement.

E.g.: Coachee says: “I am feeling guilty”

Some possible exploring questions:

- Why are you feeling guilty?

- What does feeling guilty exactly means for you, Ian?

- How do you cope with that situation / feeling?

- How does this make you feel exactly?

- What do you do about these feelings, how do you express



Exploring possible goals

E.g.: Coachee says: “I would like to feel really o.k.”

Some possible exploring questions:

- That’s a great goal, Ian. What would it take to make y