Handcuff-heart-lAs a concept, it’s simple: If you flinch from saying what needs to be said with your clients, you’re robbing them.

As a practice however, it can be …complicated.

Because flinching, however slightly, is about protecting either your client or yourself. And the moment you go into protection, you are no longer available to connect in present moment.

When you are not fully present and connecting, you don’t have full access to all that you can sense, feel, intuit, discern, and notice in the moment.

You don’t have access to the sacred wisdom that lives deep within you, which means you don’t have the same capacity to bring your coachee’s sacred wisdom forth.

If your inner radar screen is dimmed just a bit, or part of the screen is blanked out because you can’t be completely present, you miss the nuances, the unspoken, and the subtle signs of growth in the moment.

So you can see why is essential for you as a coach to be aware of when you flinch or constrict, however slightly, because left untended, that constriction takes you out of present moment.

Notice a couple of key phrases I just mentioned: be aware of and left untended. I did not say it’s crucial for you to ferret out all of the tender places inside that cause you to flinch and cut them out. Instead, I invite you to illuminate vs. eliminate so you can work with vs. battle  what is there.

So let’s do some illuminating: Think of times you know you have held back from speaking fully and freely with a client.

Now consider why this occurs. There are several patterns I’ve observed:

1)   You have – like most of us – beliefs, old stories, and/or cultural conditioning about what you “should” and “should not” say (or do).

2)   It feels risky to speak freely, which triggers a sense of vulnerability. One example: You don’t set a boundary with client who continues to cancel or “no show,” for fear of losing the client.

3)   You don’t know how to speak what needs to be spoken because:

  • You have an emotional charge running, for which you may be over compensating by holding back. The emotional charge makes is difficult to see how to speak what needs to be spoken in a way that is clean and useful. OR
  • What you need to speak has not been modeled for you, so you don’t have the language you need to say what needs to be said. For example: A client continually asks you to give them the answer. You know you need to address this with what will essentially be a ‘no’ of some kind, but…how to articulate it in a way that actually serves the client?
  •  You sense something, an inner knowing, that is pre-verbal for you and don’t know how to get it from pre-verbal to verbal in a way that is graceful and effective.
  •  Similar to “c” above, you don’t yet see how to frame what needs to spoken in a way that is most relevant or palatable for your client. You may see some dots to connect, but not yet be clear on how to connect them in a way that supports your client’s growth.

4)   You don’t want to “get it wrong” as a coach. You aren’t sure about the boundaries between inquiry and sharing: how much do you talk and how much do you listen….really? And what does it mean to “share vs. tell, in support of client discovery?”

Okay, we’ve looked at the “why’s” that keep you from speaking freely. Now….how to set yourself free?

It’s simple really. One single shift will help move you past old beliefs about what you can or can’t say and lighten perceived risk:

Zoom out, reconnect with the Big Picture and with love.

The Big Picture includes:

  • Wanting what is ultimately best for your client and trusting the perfection of what exists in the moment including your discomfort and your client’s.
  • Remembering we are all connected and realizing when you guard your heart and go into disconnect, you create distance between us.

The question you can ask yourself is: How deeply do I love? Really? Do I love myself enough to stand in compassionate truth? And do I love my client deeply enough to allow him/her to be upset by something I say?

If you want to set yourself free – totally free – to say it all with your clients, go to love first.  After all, love is what lives in the Heart and Soul of Coaching.

Happy coaching!

With love to you and those you serve,


If you enjoyed this article, you may like the audio for the June, 2014 Heart and Soul community call (Subscribe to access those recordings at no charge here.) . And if you’re collecting CCE hours to renew your coaching credential, be sure to listen to the beginning of the June audio to learn how participation in the H&S program can earn you up to 12 ICF pre-approved CCE’s. Or, email me at lynallen@ritternet.com to get started earning your CCE’s now.