Remaining neutral – How life coaches keep their opinions and beliefs out of the conversation.

Life coaches work with clients every day to address personal goals, aspirations, and relationships and how they work in a person’s life.  They use a variety of tools and techniques to help their clients stay organized and motivated.

Life coaches are just people too, and sometimes it’s hard to separate personal feelings and opinions when someone is explaining their problem.  Life coaches naturally want to help people “fix” their problems, so having opinions is a natural human behavior.

As a professional, life coaches must remain neutral.  A successful life coach will never give opinions or recommendations on how a client should proceed with fixing an issue.  Clients are on a journey of self-discovery, and the decisions they make are theirs alone.  This is why goal-setting exercises are used; they help the client determine what they want to achieve.

life coach in meeting

Controlling personal opinions and beliefs:

In order to control your personal opinions, you must first understand cognitive bias.  Cognitive bias occurs when our expectations and perceptions influence our evaluation of information.  We’re constantly surrounded by media that feeds into our bias in today’s world.  Social media websites are specifically designed to analyze our browsing habits and feed us information that matches our beliefs. Let’s discuss a few biases that are common:

Confirmation Bias:

Confirmation bias involves only seeing evidence that confirms what you already believe or seeing evidence as confirming your existing beliefs.

Framing Bias:

Framing bias involves being influenced by the way information is presented. For example, pretend you are about to undergo a medical procedure. Which statement would you rather hear about the procedure?

  • “Ninety percent of patients who undergo this procedure are alive at the five-year mark.”
  • “Ten percent of patients who undergo this procedure are deceased at the five-year mark.”

Note that both statements present the same information.

Availability Heuristic:

The availability heuristic tends to rely more on information that can be easily retrieved from memory. For example, which is safer– flying or driving? Many people think flying is more dangerous because plane crashes are memorable and come to mind easily. Car crashes are actually more frequent, but they are not as apparent to our minds.

You can download this information flier to learn more about cognitive bias.

Using the correct tools:

By learning about bias, you can work to avoid these elements in your coaching sessions.  To be truly effective, however, you must use the right tools.  Coaching tools are designed to be neutral and help to eliminate the coach’s opinions and beliefs from the process.  Start by reviewing and understanding the Life Coach Code of Ethics.  It clearly states the boundaries a life coach must follow.  Use worksheets like SMART goal setting and the LAMA method (Learn, Apply, Measure, Access) to set and analyze your client’s goals.

Have your clients create an action plan before your coaching sessions.  They allow the client to establish their goals and aspirations in private, eliminating the chance that you may inadvertently influence them.  Also remember that a life coach should listen much more than speak.  Life coaches absorb information from their clients and guide them to achieve their life goals.  With proper life coach certification, training, and practice, you’ll learn to master these tools.