We cannot support our clients unless we have trust, and building that trust takes time. Once trust is created, the brain chemical that is released is Oxytocin – likely in both client and coach! This is the chemical that is associated with empathy and connection. What’s interesting about Oxytocin is that it only creates connection with people you closely associate with – your tribe, if you like – and when we are with people we identify as being “our people”, it has the effect of reducing fear and calming the amygdala – positive things in a coaching conversation. However, the same chemical can cause rejection of people who are not seen to be in that “tribe”. Interesting implications? The coach needs to build trust and allow the client to get the full benefit of Oxytocin.
The actual physicality of coaching – either touch or close presence will also increase the release of Oxytocin – under the right circumstances. What isn’t known as clearly is how this works during phone coaching, although there is no doubt that trust can be created in that situation. Some people have a higher level of inherent trust than others and what’s interesting is that it has to start with the relationship with our own bodies. If we don’t have that, it is unlikely that we will trust others. This is highly relevant to concept of whole body coaching which fits so well with health and wellness coaching.
There are six types of listening:
- Hearing (noise);
- Pretending (to listen, often being skilled enough to fake our body language too);
- Self-biographic (filtered, self-related);
- Active – this can be with your mind;
- Empathetic listening – this has to always be with your heart.
By asking the right questions, we will help the client share information that is as important to them as to us as coaches. However, if we ask the wrong type of questions, instead of triggering new pathways in the brain that can lead to different outcomes, we can cause the client to become defensive and actually create new barriers.
Once again, by reframing and showing new perspectives, we open new channels and pathways in the client’s brain which can increase possibilities and solutions!
Knowing how our brains work is important knowledge for any coach. Our work should not be random use of learned skills. We have to be aware of the actual effect that our presence and our choice of words can produce.