Powerful Guide To Coaching For Happiness
Updated: Apr 11
You are sitting in front of a computer ready for your next client to join the video conference. The picture now so familiar even to coaches that used to work with clients face to face.
Your client shows up, you watch him or her on the screen, you start with a little small talk, but hey, time is money, and so you ask your opening question: “What would you like to get out of this session?”
“Well, I want to be happy in my work/new role/my life.”
Phew! Job for years? How to make a real impression and quantum leap it so that the clients feels you really helped?
If you are in the coaching business, you want to help humanity, the biggest number of people you possibly can.
In order to do so, you need to be helping the clients fast, in one session or a few, create huge transformation and get referred to more people.
Happiness. Happy in life. Happy in a role. Thoughts are rushing through your mind.
Maybe you are even a little intimidated by the scope. Help the client to be happy in their work/role/life in just one session? Phew!
Maybe you are thinking about using traditional techniques such as GROW but there you’d need to have a goal specified well beyond “I want to be happy”.
NLP Practitioner level techniques are inconvenient because they typically involve moving physically in space.
So how to go about coaching for happiness and creating powerful transformation when all you have is internet and limited time?
Checking what the client’s starting point is is useful in that one, it gives you and the client a useful perspective and two, it sets a baseline that you can check against in the end of the session.
The best way to setting a baseline is asking: “On a scale 1–10, where 10 is beyond happy, where are you now?”
“Ok, and where would you like to be in the end of the session?”
“Ok, and when you will be at “X”, what does it mean?”
Now we are getting some clarity in terms of the client’s landscape and ambition.
Getting a Buy-in
If your ambition is to really make a difference in just one session, you will need your client to play full-in from the beginning.
The following narrative tends to work for me the best: “Oh, I like great assignments! And I have a playful idea about how to go about this. Would you be up for a little crazy experiment?”
I work primarily with people in technology and this helps to suspend their super-analytical minds. Never in my practice a client said no.
“Take a pen and paper, draw five lines that divide the paper into six fields.”
I have a thick marker ready and I lead the client and show them on camera, how to divide the paper.
Then I ask the client to take whatever object they have available, it can be even be the pen they used:
“We will play a little board game. I will ask you questions from six different areas, and we will move from one field to another.
And when we get to the sixth field, we will do a little magic there and then I will ask you the same questions from the same six different areas when we go back.
Setting The Client For Success
In order for the process I am about to share to work best, you need to set the client into positive physiology and anchor that state conversationally.
Ask: “What do you do when you celebrate?”
You will either get the client show you right away, but sometimes you need to elaborate a bit.
“Show me, remember when you got some really great news and you went like “YES!””
Only if the client still struggles, go with some examples: “What do you do when you get some unexpected great news? When you win?”
Many clients refer to sports, lottery, childbirth, promotion, pleasant surprise.
Last resort, try asking if they have a favorite sports team and how they celebrate when their team wins.
You are after a physical demonstration.
Smile from ear to ear at the very least.
Ideally you are looking for a victory pose \o/ or a “YES” with a manly gesture of an arm and a fist. Simply something you can mirror back to them, in exaggeration, to create an anchor you can use later.
If the clients go: “yes” with arms up but bent and hesitant, you go: “Like this?”
“YES!!!” with your arms straight, open wide, playing full in.
You play along and fill the energy until the client changes their physiology.
As If …
You have the client in a good place now, in physiology that allows for creativity. Build on that and explain to the client that this playful experiment will require him or her to play “as if” they have already achieved their goal.
When the goal for the session was “to be happy in their work”, you ask them to play the game “as if” they already are happy in their work.
It’s in fact really simple. All you do is ask questions from the following six areas as if the client already achieved his/her goal of being happy/happy in the role/happy in the work/happy in life:
Values and Beliefs
Inducing Trance On The Way There
If you are certified NLP Practitioner, by now you have probably recognized the concept of Neurological Levels by Robert Dilts.
The more you are able to get your client to the state of focused awareness, aka trance, the better results you'll get.
Here’s how to go about it to induce trance gradually.
Ask a question, take note of the answer. Ask the following question building on and using the answer from the previous question.
Whenever the client asks: “What do you mean?”, say: “Whatever comes first to your mind is the perfect answer”.
This is the sequence you go with.
You may want to show the client that you are going to start, show the paper divided into sections to the camera, place the object on the first field. You may want to ask the client to move on the paper from section one to section two.
You will not play the board game. You will not ask the client to move to section three.
Use the paper cut into sections to take your notes, verbatim of the client words. It was there to give the client some structure, set their expectations so that they feel safe, they know what experiment they are going into, and can make some sense of it.
You WILL NOT use it throughout except for the start and for the purpose of your own note-taking.
“So as you are totally happy in your work/in your role/in your life, where are you?”
“ Hm, and as you are totally happy in your work/role/life <repeat back what the client just said> what do you see there?”
“And as you are <where ever the client said they were> and you see <play back what they said they saw> who is there with you?”
“And as you are <where> <seeing what> <with whom, if with somebody> what are you doing?”
“And as <you are doing> is there anything else about your behavior?”
“And as you are totally happy, <where> <doing what> what do you know?”
“What else do you know?”
“And as you are totally happy and have all this knowledge, what other abilities and skills do you have?”
“And as you <play back all their knowledge, skills and abilities>, what other superpowers do you have that makes your happiness possible?”
4. Values and Beliefs
“And as you are totally happy, you have <repeat back their knowledge, abilities, skills, superpowers in their own words> what do you believe?”
“What else do you believe?”
“And as you believe <repeat back to them everything the client told you about their beliefs and superpowers, pick emotionally charged statements they had> What do you believe about yourself?”
“And as you believe <you are still helping the client to change their state of mind, so still playback whatever emotionally charged statements you gathered so far on all levels> what do you believe about your environment?”
“And as you believe <play back a few beliefs you gathered so far and their superpowers> and you are totally happy, what is important for you?”
“What values do you have?”
“That’s right. And as you have these values, and you believe in <play back their words> and you have this superpower, and you are totally happy, who are you?”
“What’s your identity?”
“Who are you as a person?”
“And as you are <play back their happy identity>, and you believe <play back their beliefs> and you know that <play back their knowledge and abilities>, what is your mission?”
“Who are you doing it for?”
“What is your purpose?”
For most clients, you won’t need to keep repeating back to the client that much, the client is now in the flow and ideas come freely with little help.
Doing the Magic
“Now, close your eyes, and ask for a present, a gift, a symbol that will give you new insights on your way to your goal.”
If the client struggles, explore further: “It’s a gift, a symbol, a picture from the universe, from your higher self, from God, whatever works with the belief system that will help you on your journey.”
If the client still struggles, expand: “just wait for the first thing that comes to mind, the very first picture or sound. It doesn’t have to make any sense, it can’t come from logic, it’s a gift that you will have with you and will help you see new horizons and perspectives.”
Some clients will still “see nothing” and “nothing comes”. Just stay silent, something will pop up. Watch out for a change in physiology. Your client might smile, then shake their head. Some might frown. Catch that moment and ask: “What was that?”
Some will say that it’s not logical or that it’s weird. To which you say: “That’s right it’s not logical. It’s not supposed to be. That’s right it’s weird. It’s supposed to be. So what was it?”
Strive for the unfiltered symbol. Whatever comes first to mind. If the client comes up with something unpleasant, give them a choice to either go with it or ask for a nicer gift, a more pleasant symbol.
Some clients will tell you it’s “just a feeling”. So you ask for metaphor: “So what’s that feeling like?”
Walking Back With The Gift
Walking back with the gift is less work for the coach and typically faster for the client. No need to cite anything they said on the way there. No need to repeat back, the further abstract you got with the questions, the deeper they got into a trance, or creative state of mind if you like that better.
All you need to do as a coach is to ask the same set of questions, just this time you introduce every question with “And as you now have this symbol <the symbol the client said they get, in their own words> that gives you new insights to this all, what is your purpose?”. Explore with additional questions from 6. Purpose.
“And as you now have this symbol <the symbol the client said they get, in their own words> that gives you new insights to this all, who are you?” Explore with additional questions from 5. Identity.
“And as you now have this symbol <the symbol the client said they get, in their own words> that gives you new insights to this all, what do you believe?/what do you value?/what is important there?” Explore with additional questions from 4. Values and Beliefs.
“And as you now have this symbol <the symbol the client said they get, in their own words> that gives you new insights to this all, what do you know?/what skills you have?/what are your superpowers?”
Explore with additional questions from 3. Skills.
“What do you do?” “What is your behavior?” and questions from 2. Behavior.
And finally: “Where are you?” and questions from 1. Environment.
You will need to default to repeating all their emotionally charged words in case you see that your client goes back to his analytical mind, over-analyses, or gets stuck.
New and Different
When you are done with the exercise, allow your client to just be with it. Give your client the space and the time for processing. You may want to say something like: “Stay in that place for as long as you like to process what’s new and different.”
When the client is done processing and looks at you in expectation, ask: “Now, what’s new and different?” which allows the client to process the new learning out loud, often giving them further insights.
When the client appears lost and claims that while it was a great experience, it doesn’t make sense to them, just empower them, use their symbol, and the emotionally charged words they have given you to direct their attention and focus.
You may say something like: “You’ve been so creative, open-minded, and exploratory through this exercise, you are clearly good at this. How cool would it be to keep this creativity and exploratory mind when noticing what’s new and different?”
Closing the session
Most of the time you close the session by asking: “How would you like us to wrap this session up?”
There are two typical outcomes. Clarity or confusion. And both are great!
Most of the time the clients say: “This is it, I am done, thank you so much!”
Some clients get all the clarity they need and you will never see them again. That’s cool, they will tell everyone about their transformation and refer you further.
Some clients get clarity and ask for a follow-up session. Now they know exactly where they want to go, they just feel they need a little help in how to get there.
Some clients have just loosened their landscape, they need the time to process. By asking them to journal about what’s new and different, you are enforcing the change that has already started.
Many clients will tell you they are confused. And that’s great! As Tony Robbins says in his seminars, confused means that you are changing.
You want to empower your client by quoting Tony. By saying: “That’s right you are confused, that means that you are changing.”
I quote Einstein very often in this context: Einstein supposedly said that you can’t solve the problem from the perspective that created it. What we have done together has moved the problem and the perspective.
You may also ask the scale question again. Where is the client now on a scale 1–10 now that they went through this creative and playful exercise?
If you want to go with the full process, I’d recommend having a minimum of 90 minutes.
Keep an eye on the watch and leave at least 10 minutes for wrapping up. When you are done with the exercise, ask the client: “We have about 10 minutes left, what would you like to get from these 10 minutes?” Alternatively: “We have about 10 minutes left, now, what do you need, now?”
You will use the 10 minutes to making sure the client leaves empowered and in a good shape, set for success and positive, ecological change. If appropriate, to schedule a follow-up session.
If you need to fit this into 60 minutes, you’d have to skip the scale and only focus on the core of the Neurological Level process.
The 5 Rules of Clean Coaching
Notice how this exercise helps you avoid all the caveats of typical human brain habits. By looking at the coaching conversation purely from the perspective of process, by using your clients’ language in their words, and by going with them wherever they are taking you, you become a guide on a beautiful and refreshing journey.
I promise you will be surprised every single time you guide your client through the NLP neurological levels.
Just go with the flow and trust the process.
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