As we gain more experience and skill in the practice of coaching, we naturally find many ways that spiritual practices help us achieve our goals. By spiritual practices I mean methods and beliefs relating to the nature of reality and different mind and energy states. For anyone who is continually investigating self-improvement, spiritual practices of some variety will eventually be revealed as extremely useful. Therefore it is natural that we want to share those practices with our clients.
But because spiritual words tend to be emotionally loaded and misunderstood, it is easy to create resistance or scare clients off with our talk of spiritual things.
In September 2009, I held a meeting (through the Hong Kong International Coaching Community) with 14 coaches of different backgrounds and levels of experience to share examples of the successes we have had with helping clients find their own value in using spiritual concepts and practices. As a result, I have compiled a list of approaches for bringing spiritual things, in the broadest possible sense, into coaching relationships. These are simply ideas, in no particular order, that can be tailored for use by a variety of coaches according to their clients’ preferences.
- Listen for what makes meaning for your clients and point it out to them.
- Use the same words your clients use to explain spiritual concepts. Even the word ‘spiritual’ can be negatively charged.
- Ask “do you have any spiritual practice?”
- Fully accept and endorse your client’s current thinking and relationship to spiritual things, even if it is very different from your own. This may require you to expand your own perspective to be able to see the value in other mindsets.
- Use silence to help your clients tap into their deeper thoughts. Then ask, “what is your heart telling you?”
- Encourage your clients to be helpful or of service to others. Helping brings joy.
- Encourage your clients to find their passion. It is a route to finding meaning and connecting with a bigger purpose.
- Ask ‘why is this important to you?’ or ‘what is important to you about life?’
- Ask ‘who will you become …?’
- Create a safe space by being open, accepting and ensuring confidentiality.
- Be willing to witness your client’s pain, joy and changes. Stay with them without being drawn into the emotions.
- Use your client’s upsets or challenges as opportunities to breakthrough to new ways of thinking and being.
- Point out the benefits of spiritual practices as your clients experience them.
- Learn to share your own understanding in words that are inclusive and understandable by many different kinds of people.
- Translate your spiritual practices into practical steps that relate to practical goals so that your clients can clearly see the benefits and try it for themselves.
- Expand your own spiritual practices to gain deeper and wider understanding.
In what other ways do you share your most esoteric learnings with your clients?