By: Melissa Aycock
Get the Conversation Going
Do you ever wonder how to get a conversation going with a client that quickly leads to a deeper discussion? Have you struggled with client-trainer relationships that seem to stall continually? If these communication challenges are familiar, I have a few quick tips for you. Let's learn how to kickstart a conversation with your client so that they can lead to deeper and more meaningful connections in shorter amounts of time!
"What's on your mind?"
This type of open-ended question straddles a fine line of not being too broad or too narrow. In essence, it invites the listener to get right to what is most important to them at that moment. The trainer displays trust by asking a kickstart question and allows the client autonomy to speak about what feels most impactful to them. It gives them the space to choose what they would like to discuss.
This type of question is also focused; by asking the client to speak directly about what is exciting, stressful, challenging, or consuming in their life at that moment. In essence, the trainer asks the client to talk about what matters most without directly saying, "Let's talk about what matters most" - which is neither a question nor induces trust or autonomy.
The "Kickstart Question"
This method allows trainers to coach for development versus coaching for performance. Coaching for performance is about outcomes, not processes, and addresses specific problems or challenges. In the short term, this might seem to make sense for trainers - we want our clients to achieve their desired goals, such as losing 10 lbs. or gaining musculature. However, if we can learn to shift into coaching for development, we teach clients that the focus is on them and not on their "issue."
Again, we see the power of developing client autonomy by looking at the whole person versus one goal. Coaching for development gives the client forward momentum in their own lives to learn, improve, and grow rather than complete one goal (or not) and move into another. Like the kickstart question, coaching for development is a way for trainers to quickly establish rapport and collaborate with clients from a whole-person perspective.
Stanier, M. B. (2016). The coaching habit. Box of Crayons Press.