We need to show up as leaders in our coaching. We are hired to lead ~ the energy, the group, the partnership.
I don't mean we need to show up as the boss with an inflexible agenda. I mean, someone has to be actively listening. Someone has to be forwarding the session, the group, or the agenda. Someone has to reel the client(s) back in when things start to spin out from their intention.
Whether you're coaching in a group or in a 1:1 session, the spin out eventually happens. Things are going in a direction that is overwhelming for the group ~ maybe one person is taking up more than their share of time, or getting so emotional that they are becoming not a co-created group partner, but the star of their own coaching show.
Maybe your 1:1 client hired you for a stated agenda, or set an intention in the beginning of the call, but is getting so far down the road in a personal story, or is avoiding the original agenda... and you want to honor their direction while also doing what you were hired to do.
The "spin-out" will happen... and the difference between a coach who can walk their talk and ask for high fees (PRO!) and a coach who is too afraid to stand up for their client is the ability to handle these coaching situations fearlessly.
Here's some tips on showing up as a leader when your group or 1:1 client starts to spin out:
1) Be proactive and set the expectation from the beginning. This is something we talk a lot about in Get Your Group Going ~ managing group expectations up front instead of retroactively. Sometimes we don't want to "be bossy" and set guidelines for a group or 1:1 coaching relationship. Totally get it ~ AND it's important to remember people are paying you for your coaching knowledge ~ which includes creating the coaching container.
In a 1:1 relationship, get permission from the outset to interrupt if your intuition tells you the session is spinning out. In a group, make sure that the guidelines are clear as to how much time each person gets on the call, how you will handle emotional stuff that comes up, and make it authentic and true to you ~ or, let the group co-create it!
2) Get buy-in. We're all so in the trenches of life coaching that sometimes we forget why we're doing what we're doing. For someone new to being coached, it's important to help them understand why you are interrupting, managing, or setting guidelines. Here's how I like to frame it:
"A coaching relationship is not like your relationship with friends or family. You've hired me to help you overcome [x, y, z] ~ and to make those changes, we have to change some ways of doing things. For example, with your friends, you might tell and retail all the details of a story that's important to you. In coaching, I might interrupt you with love and ask you to tell me what's important about the story, rather than focusing on the SOS or "Same Old Story". May I have your permission to do that?"
3) Let go of being liked. Listen, we learn certain social rules that teach us how to be polite, well-received, and good friends. Listen, nod, let people finish, don't interrupt. These things help us be liked, and are probably nice things to uphold in your personal life.
In your professional life, your goal as a coach is to help people step out of those social rules so they can live a life that's truly examined. If you and the client continue to dance within the box of what society teaches us, then the client will continue to live in that very same box. So let go of being liked, let go of being afraid of hurting their feelings, and coach fearlessly. The most uncomfortable moments in a coaching session are often the most profound.
4) Have an out prepared. In a group, sometimes really heightened emotions can take over ~ especially when someone is witnessed for the first time by a group of unconditionally caring people. This can cause a lot of panic in the group facilitator/coach because it can feel like a moment where a big breakthrough should happen, and your coaching spidey sense gets all tingly.
But the breakthrough already happened. If there are tears and high emotions, then all that stuff is coming to the surface to be released. Here's what you can do: First, acknowledge what they've said. Next, allow it. One person's emotional release can set the tone that it's an OK, safe place to feel all the things we've been holding back! Finally, have an out prepared. Ask, "So and so, how can this group support you right now?" Once they've told you how y'all can support him/her, then you can give them an out ~ "I love that you could bring this emotion to our safe space and give others permission to feel, too ~ how about you take a moment to get some water and take care of you, and we'll follow up with you in the FB group/at the end of the call/via email. Now, can anyone here in the group relate to what so-and-so is going through right now and share some words of compassion?"
In a 1:1 call, you have some more luxury to explore what's going on in that deep emotion ~ and, if you intuit that it's not productive any longer, you can ask the client, "It seems like there is a LOT to be released and I'm happy to support you right now. Would you like to continue with our call, or would you like to have some time to yourself to really release this, and we can schedule the remaining half hour to process what you're going through?"
5) Make the "SOS" part of the work together. Tell the group or client up front that a lot of the work you'll be doing together is to reframe and rewrite that "Same Old Sh!t", and that you'd like to help him/her/group catch when those SOSs are popping up! In that way, you help the client/group enact his/her highest inner coach. In a group, it helps the crew support one another instead of putting it all in your hands.
In group coaching, you can make "SOS!" a catch phrase that people use with one another lovingly when they hear "Same Old Stories" coming up. This is especially fun on the phone and opens up an awesome coaching opportunity in that moment.
In 1:1 coaching, having a playful "Hey so-and-so, I'd like to interrupt because I feel an SOS coming on! What's important about this story?" takes some of the pressure off and makes it an opportunity for your client to recognize their own SOS.