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Life stories

The client arrives at coaching. S/he tells their story. Their life story.

Life stories are widely accepted as a research method in anthropology, but we also use this method in coaching.

Asking about a person's life story is a process of selection and filtering. People choose what to tell. These choices teach us a great deal (remember my lecture on non-verbal meanings?)

Social reasoning - a person will tell us what, according to their perception, we would like to hear.

Building up a story - a person will choose events from which s/he can build a story up. The choice will justify their place in life, role, problems. The story might be a reflection of the mood and the events that happened that day.

Evidence - providing evidence to explain why s/he does something, what s/he does it, or how s/he feels.

What can we do about it and how can we use it in coaching?

If the story reflects the client, then there is a certain message we should look for. Be sensitive to words, body gestures, because they hide the message.

Asking questions. The skill of asking questions is very important in coaching and therapy of all kinds. Asking the right questions can change an entire coaching session and lead to significant breakthroughs.

Connect dots. Listen to the person’s words even if they were said distractedly. I love it when my clients look at me wide-eyed when I put things together for them and without exception they tell me "you're right! How come I didn't think of that!"


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