Do you ever feel like you have to show up as this unfailing guide that leads your clients to the perfect epiphany, solution, or explanation time after time? After all, your clients are coming to you with their deepest dreams and desires. The definition of “life coach” might as well be “omnipotence”…
But is life coaching really about knowing all the answers?
Short answer = NO.
But what does it mean if you’re not sure how to answer difficult client questions?
And how can you show up as the confident coach you want to be when you have all these expectations stacked against you?
(If you would like to talk to one of our team members directly about any of these questions, schedule a strategy session today!)
These concerns come from a genuine heart. You became a life coach to help people, and by asking these questions you’re already showcasing a sincere desire to serve your clients in the best way possible.
The goal of this post is to help you step into the version of yourself that’s calm and confident in the face of difficult questions and the unknown. If that’s you, let’s dive right in.
What Qualifies a Person to Be a Life Coach?
With little effort, you can come up with an infinite number of reasons not to feel ready. Even as an active coach, imposter syndrome and old thinking patterns can creep back into your subconscious.
So, let’s start with the mindset. We’ve worked with thousands of coaches from all walks of life and experience levels. Here are just a few reasons why you may feel unqualified to become – or continue being – a life coach (click each one for a free resource):
- I’m too damaged to help other people.
- I don’t know enough about life coaching.
- I’m not tech-savvy enough to be successful.
- I haven’t suffered enough adversity.
- My life isn’t perfect, so who am I to help someone else?
- Life coaching is too saturated, I’ll never break through.
- I need to have a degree to be a life coach.
It’s easy to convince yourself of all the reasons why not to do something. This default narrative is called “common hour thinking”. It keeps you in your comfort zone, reminding you of your past failures, present fears, and future pain. And it makes it hard to take action toward what matters most.
Brave Thinking, on the other hand, helps you create healthier thinking patterns. You’re able to see opportunities where others only see problems. You’re able to ask open-ended questions instead of dead-ends. Your ability to see things differently allows you to look at challenges in new ways.
Including how you see yourself as a life coach.
So to start, check your heart. Do you genuinely want to help people? Are you willing and eager to use your unique gifts to make a difference in the world?
It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in your life coaching business, going back to your “why” is a sure-fire way to keep the garden of your mind free of the thoughts that choke your growth.
As a unique human, you are an unrepeatable miracle. Your stories are meaningful and different, and the simple yet profound desire to serve others makes you uniquely qualified. In other words, you have coaching superpowers that are unique to you and you alone!
And while there’s nothing stopping you from slapping a sticker on your chest with the words “LIFE COACH” written across it, that won’t guarantee success. There are ways to make your life coaching business easier to run, and we’re about to dive into one of the techniques we train our own coaches in to make it happen.
Using the Evocative Model for Coaching Client Questions
There’s a certain feeling you can look for to determine whether or not you’re asking the right questions to your life coaching clients.
No, it’s not a chill down your spine or feeling your chest fill with happiness.
It’s understanding the difference between “telling” and “bringing forth”.
Traditional life coaches usually use their expertise and experience to tell their clients what to do. On the other hand, transformational life coaches use an evocative approach that helps clients bring forth the answers that are already within them.
Sometimes those questions unearth more questions. When that happens, you’re on the right track. You’re encouraging your clients to search within themselves and training them to trust their inner wisdom.
But what happens when they ask hard questions that you feel clueless or unqualified to help them with? The next section will break down exactly what to do.
How to Answer Difficult Client Questions
1. Repeat back what you understood. Instead of getting defensive or frustrated, repeat back what you did understand out of the question and ask for clarification.
Ex: I heard you say this…is that correct?
2. Contribute what you already know. Provide a response/input based on what you readily understand and resonate with.
Ex: When I went through a similar situation, here’s what I found helpful…
3. Make sure you’re using language and concepts you and your client(s) are familiar with. Your gut reaction to a hard question may be to “sound smart” and use jargon to distract from the fact that you’re lacking confidence. At the end of the day, you won’t be helping yourself or your client. Instead, keep things simple. After all, your client may already be overwhelmed with the question they’re asking you.
Ex: Trauma can mean a lot of things, but based on what you shared do you feel like we can define it as…
4. Circle back to your original objective/purpose. At this point, remember that the difficult question isn’t about you. Return the conversation back to your client and allow them to respond to your input.
Ex: What are your thoughts so far on what we’ve discussed?
5. Offer relevant questions that could inspire deeper insight. If your client still feels confused, offer different questions that work around the one they’re stuck on. Perhaps a different angle can help them process differently and provide new insights.
Ex: How about we consider a different story…how did you feel when (this) happened?
6. Use storytelling to exemplify/simplify your points. If there are certain concepts or principles that are important for your client to understand, use examples, stories, analogies, quotes, metaphors, and other storytelling techniques to make it easier for them to grasp.
Ex: “Trauma is not what happened to you, it’s what happens inside of you as a result of what happened to you.” That’s a quote from Gabor Mate, does that help you process the question differently?
7. Give your client(s) space to process their thoughts and emotions. If, after following all these steps, your client remains stuck on their question, take a step back. Create space. Listen, engage, and remember the question is for them to answer – not you. You are simply a supportive guide. You can always bookmark the conversation and schedule a time to return to it.
Alternatives to “I Don’t Know”
- “That’s an excellent question. Here’s what I can offer based on my own experience…”
- “I know exactly who I can reach out to for an answer…”
- “Let’s find out the answer together…”
- “When we’re finished with our current session, we can dive deeper into researching and reflecting on this question…”
Evocating coaching is empowering because it shifts the authority and power from the coach to the client. You’re no longer tethered to the unrealistic expectation that you have to know the answer to every question.
Instead, you are a companion on your client’s transformational journey. Not ahead of them, not behind them, but beside them.
Empower Your Life Coaching with a Proven Curriculum
You are a uniquely qualified life coach. When you put aside comparison and serve your clients with a heart of service, you’ll find that genuine connection is the real bridge between hard questions and life-changing answers.
With evocative coaching, you’ll experience the freedom of empowering your clients to be their own source of truth. As a transformational life coach, you simply guide them forward when life attempts to dissuade, distract, or delay their progress towards a life they would love.
But sometimes that path can feel intimidating, especially when you’re paving it on your own. The good news is that it doesn’t have to feel like a long and lonely journey. Think about it:
Why use a paper map when you can offer a proven curriculum that gets your clients from A (the life they’re living) to B (their dream life) like a GPS system?
If you’d like access to a proven path for your coaching clients to follow for success, confidence, and clarity, I invite you to talk to one of our expert staff today.
By the end of your free strategy session, you’ll discover exactly what it takes to help your clients achieve the transformation they desire – and how to become the coach that can help them get there.
Until next time…
Think bravely and act boldly,