How to Create Client Awareness

The Eighth Core Coaching Competency covered by our Decoding the Coaching Genome course, worth 21 CCEU accredited by the ICF, is creating Client Awareness. In this post we define Client Awareness and outline why and how you can create it in your own coaching relationships.

Awareness is absolutely essential to any change process. Without being able to see what is happening superficially or being unable to detect what is happening below the surface, the coach will be unable to guide the client to see what behaviours and beliefs are necessary to change. The process of creating awareness like all of the other coaching competencies is a parallel process. The coach and the client must be willing and able to accurately evaluate multiple sources of information so that the client can achieve their agreed-upon results [1].

How to Create Awareness

How does the coach create awareness? Utilizing all of the other coaching competencies such as curiosity, powerful questions, listening and direct communication, the coach is constantly evoking new awareness and understanding the part of the client. Focusing on questions that elicit the client’s desires and values, noting his or her feelings, consistently increasing the clarity of the client’s vision as well as guiding them toward taking fruitful action, all create increased awareness.

The coach, although a non-judgmental player in the coaching relationship, constantly provides feedback to the client. This feedback is based upon their own experience of the client, listening to what client reports other people have said about them and noticing the impact of the client’s way of being and behaviors.

An Example

One example concerns Alec’s experience of himself at work. His co-workers feel like he’s a nice and easy-going guy but at the same time they do not see him exerting any authority on the job. As a manager of a small mid-level department, it is important that projects be completed in a timely and competent manner. Alec prides himself on maintaining a good sense of team spirit and camaraderie in his department. The previous manager was quite dictatorial and scary at times. Alec promised himself that he would never run the department that way. However, by going completely to the other extreme, projects either did not get completed on time or had mistakes upon execution. Alec had been unable and unwilling to examine the problems in his department due to his desire to maintain harmony and not be thought of as dictatorial in any way.

How Coaching Helped

His coach worked with him to see the difference between standing in his own authority and being dictatorial. Further, the coach pointed out the negative impact his desire for harmony was having in the department. Over time, Alec and his coach co-designed some exercises for him to practice with his direct reports that resulted in more projects being completed on time with fewer errors. Alec has since committed to both an on-time performance schedule and an error free design process. He is also learning that his department is appreciating having more structure without his having to sacrifice his easy-going manner.


Using Client Awareness

During the time that he worked with Alec, his coach was constantly curious about Alec’s own interpretation of what was happening at work as well as that of his co-workers. His coach also paid attention to his body language that changed significantly whenever he felt that he was veering into “dictatorial territory.” His coach practiced direct communication pointing out the differences between Alec’s interpretation of things and his inability to assert his authority on the job. As Alec was able to make positive changes, his coach always acknowledged both the behavioural and emotional changes that Alec created.

Creating client awareness ultimately deepens your clients’ learning about themselves and expands their vision. Often, what they need to see is right in front of them yet they are frequently too close to their issues to see them clearly. Your job is to ask powerful questions and articulate what you see so that they can create the changes they most desire.

[1] International Coach Federation. Competency №8: Creating Awareness: “Ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information and to make interpretations that help the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed-upon results.”


About the Author:

Judith has been following her calling for the past 33 years, originally as a licensed psychotherapist and then for the past 20 years as Co-Active Coach. After training her, CTI (The Coaches Training Institute) invited Judith to become a faculty member in 1996. She received her Master Certified Coach certificate through the International Coach Federation in 1999. Judith currently is a Senior Faculty member at CTI as well the principal of her own international coaching practice.

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