In our Solutions Focus practice we like to say that our clients and customers are the experts, by which we acknowledge that they know their lives and work better than we ever can, and are therefore best placed to decide how to use their resources to solve their problems.
So, if the client is the expert, how do we let them know that, while still adding value in our job as coach, therapist or workshop leader? How do we empower clients in practice during a workshop or a coaching session?
In many forms of coaching and therapy, the practitioner has a plan. The course of the conversation depends relatively little on what the client wants. That makes it predictable and thus easy for the coach. But is the comfort of the coach or the therapist (rather than the client) the goal of the session?
In SF coaching sessions, we start by asking what the client wants. That’s the plan, and that’s as far as the plan goes. The rest depends upon the answer you get and whatever is needed to get a more detailed description of what’s wanted, descriptions of resources and descriptions of progress.
And the value of that? These questions will produce change. And they will keep you as the coach in the moment and on your toes.
Another is to start with highlights from the past - proud achievements, better periods in their life or their work - to get a sense of what’s important to them, their talents and their experiences.
Then, when the time is right, you can have a more informed conversation about what’s wanted in the future.
The activity ran smoothly and the participants raced back to their chairs to make notes. ‘What were those questions we just asked?’, they demanded. ‘What do you remember them to be?’, I parried - still in facilitator mode.
It so happened that my questions were all flavoured with a solutions focus. That’s because SF is the way that I think, even though in terms of the format we were learning the wording of the questions was irrelevant...
Try these questions: