A one to one motivational  coaching session is a powerful, person-focused, respectful, guiding approach that helps people to change. This change contributes to developing and strengthening their inner motivation and confidence. Motivating your team members is one of the biggest responsibilities that rest on the shoulders of modern day managers, here is a primer for you to ace it.

A motivational coach listens with empathy, really trying hard to imagine what it might be like to be the other person, trying to feel “as if” they were in the other person’s shoes, communicating this attempt at understanding with reflective listening statements of varying degrees of complexity and summaries. After the session, at the bare minimum, the participant goes with a feeling of being heard, listened to, and having been understood by the coach. As a motivational coach, your target is to empower your participants, encouraging optimism and hope, by working to develop their sense of confidence about being able to change (their self-efficacy), as well as helping them see how change is likely to result in desired outcomes for themselves and others.Throughout these steps, you will be continually engaging with the participant. If engagement is lost or sensed to be lost, then you should start working to re-establishing engagement. The focus of a motivation session is change – but one that is not lead by you.

Motivation coaching sessions are a joint exercise and not a discourse

You and your session participant work together, jointly and collaboratively scanning aspects of your participant’s life, their ambitions, targets, their strengths, their difficulties, their dreams, their let downs, and their vision for change. If your conversation starts becoming non-collaborative, you will see signs of resistance building up; this is a warning for you to change track and reignite the empathic  & collaborative relationship. The conversation should be more like a dance than a wrestle, and you should not try to move ahead of participant’s pace.  If you overestimate the importance your participant places on changing, or their confidence or readiness to change, or talks and acts in ways, which reduce the participant’s sense of control or autonomy, then resistance may be triggered.

Best motivation coaching sessions are inside out and not prescriptive

The motivation session has to work inside out; you try to draw things out from the client, rather than putting things in the participant’s mind. Things evoked by the participants may include concerns about the current situation, reasons for the change, ideas for changing, and ideas for staying changed – including thoughts about barriers and obstacles which might be encountered and ways around them. Reasons for being confident that change is possible may also be expressed by your session participant. The more your participant comes up with ideas, reasons, and arguments; the more likely change will occur – in contrast to you telling them why and how to change.

Best motivation coaching sessions are accepting and not judging

Motivational sessions are meant to be accepting and compassionate – being empathic, affirming, and accepting the participant’s absolute worth and their autonomy or freedom to choose. The approach hinges on freedom for the participant; the coach never forgets that the participant is the active decision maker, exploring options and deciding what they want to with their lives (that includes the option of not changing and staying the same – letting their life continue in its current direction).

Best motivation coaches don’t fix things for others

We are naturally predisposed to fix things, to put things right, to straighten things out, and make them better. This usually helpful natural predisposition commonly gets in the way of empathic, non-judgmental relationships, and can trigger resistance and reactance as your session participant may feel their autonomy is being undermined by the coach’s attempt at being helpful. This reflex may prompt motivation coaches to jump in with such questions as: “Could you try this?” or, “Why don’t you do such and such?” which may even prompt the participant to do the opposite of the suggested course of action in an attempt to demonstrate their autonomy and freedom.

Best motivation coaches don’t ask close-ended questions

As a motivation coach seek to understand and explore your participant’s motivation by asking them open questions and following these up with empathic listening statements, more questions, affirmations, and a summary at times. Open-ended questions such as: “Why are you considering to change?” “What are your top three motivators for doing it?” “What is the best that might happen as a result of this?” “Looking a few years forwards, when things have improved, what might be going on?” “How important or critical is it for you to change?” and “Why?” often help to get the person sharing their motivation or reasons for changing. By using empathic listening skills and by further exploring these motivations, and then building on the “change talk” you may help build and further strengthen your participant’s motivation for change.

Jappreet Sethi

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