By Kathy McKenzie, Director FIRE UP Coaching
How many different acronyms do you come across in a week? I work with lots of health professionals and government organisations and I regularly have to check in and understand what a particular acronym stands for. So why do we use so many acronyms? Simply because it helps us remember sometimes long and convoluted concepts and names with a bit more ease.
One of the acronyms I developed for practitioners to help them have coaching conversations with people is called REACH. It helps to remember all the different aspects of how to have a coaching conversation and how to ‘reach’ people. Working with people who need to make changes around all kinds of behaviours – whether it be diet, exercise or changing (not to mention doing it ourselves also) – the more tools we have for supporting change the better.
REACH is another one of those tools, which I will share with you.
This is the foundation for any conversation with others, and if we do not take the time to establish it first, we can miss having rich and productive conversations with others. Any kind of practitioner needs to be aware of the old saying “people want to know how much you care before they care how much you know”. One of the challenges when you work in a busy environment, is often taking the moment to stop and be really present with others. Never underestimate the value of taking that initial moment to connect with someone. Think about someone who really makes you feel welcome each time you meet them. Notice how they build rapport and model their style.
Take the time to learn about powerful questioning techniques that really get to the heart of the matter. A book such as Lindsay Tighes “The Answer” is a good start or Coactive Coaching. They have hundreds of great examples of questions that will truly help you to explore an issue thoroughly with someone. In any conversation with another person one great question can be all it takes. For example, starting a conversation with a question such as “if you could change one thing today that would result in positive change in many other areas, what would need to be different?”
Does everyone leave you clear about the action they need to take? Make sure when you work with someone, they have a clear plan of action for what they will do. I think about someone I know when I think of this. A friend has recently had some health concerns but I get really frustrated that although he has interacted with dozens of health professionals, not one of them asked him how much exercise he does. A daily walk would make such a difference and someone just needs to sit with him and ensure he has a specific, measurable and achievable goal. Until we involve people in planning their action they will continue to abdicate responsibility and keep up the excuses.
Discuss with your client the value of taking action and making change. Clarify their values around the issue and link the change to those values. For example, a parent getting fitter will have more energy to keep up with the kids.
The final part of any coaching conversation is to honour the person. By this I mean, always leave them feeling they are capable. Give them encouragement and make them feel better for having had this time with you. Get them inspired by simple compliments such as “I know when you put your mind to things you can really achieve great things”. Leave them feeling that you believe they can achieve anything they set their mind to.
REACH is a simple framework for having a coaching conversation and helps you in a busy environment to remember all the important components of a conversation. You never know, the conversation you have with someone today could be one that starts that cycle of change today.