Responding to the question “What do you do?”

Why is it that every time I hear this question asked of a coach, I then hear them respond with how we coach?

The prospect is not asking how we coach but is asking the very basic question of what is it that we do. What we do is help the client solve their problems. The problem may be a specific one like finding a new career or solving a business problem. It may be more generic like creating a better relationship with my spouse or identifying what I want from my career. The list of problems that coaches help clients solve is endless. But what we do is always the same regardless of the problem. We help the client solve the problem, but we do not solve the problem for the client.

Once this distinction is made then the logical question is “How do you do that?” Now we can describe for the prospect how we go about helping the client solve their problem. We do this by getting the client clear on what the problem is that they want to solve. You cannot solve what you cannot describe. We help them peel back the layers to get at the core problem. We help them to look at the issue from different perspectives or by reframing the issue. Change how you describe the problem and suddenly new solutions are obvious. You cannot solve the problem from the same perspective that created the problem. We ask questions to help the client identify the role that they are playing in this problem and to see how the world would look if the problem were solved. We do all this by asking questions, listening intently to what the client is both saying and not saying, by reframing the issue, by using metaphors and role-playing to help the client see a new perspective, by getting the client to set goals and then holding them accountable, by supporting and encouraging them while all the time giving them honest direct feedback, and by always being non-judgmental of the client.

So the next time someone asks what you do, tell them you solve problems or even better yet tell them about the specific problems that you have solved for clients. Do this with a story and if you also include in the story how you did it that is even better.

Now you have told them what you do and how you do it, all with a story that they will remember!