5 time NCAA champion Mike Krzyzewski - possibly the most famous college basketball coach ever has a quote I love:
“Communication does not always occur naturally, even among a tight-knit group of individuals. Communication must be taught and practiced in order to bring everyone together as one.”
With over 1,000 career wins and over 100 future NBA players coached, Coach K knows his stuff. He’s one of the best examples of what a great coach can help his athletes achieve.
There’s a reason that communication coaches are called “coaches.”
A coach is someone who directs training and habits to help someone become the best they can be. And you just heard it from the best - communication skills can be taught and improved!
So let’s take a look at what makes a good communications coach and how they can help you achieve your communication goals!
First...What is a Communication Coach?
A communication coach helps people become better communicators at work, and in their personal life.
A good coach does this by giving their clients perspective, accountability, asking good questions and breaking down the building blocks of being a more effective communicator.
1. A Communication Coach Helps You Decide What’s Important
One of the number one questions I receive as a communication coach is “How can I be more socially confident?”
While there’s no one right answer to this question, there are certain steps that I take all of my clients through to help them achieve better communication skills. The first step is answering:
“What’s important to you?”
While all of my clients want to improve their communication and social skills, their motivations are all a little different.
Some people want to advance their careers at work, some need help with first date small talk, and some of my clients just want to be better at parties and have more engaging conversations.
Once we know why you’re looking to improve your communication skills, we can structure a gameplan that’s tailored to your specific goals and needs!
The clearer we get on what you want (better water cooler conversation, telling captivating stories, better relationships with your in-laws, etc.) the more helpful my instructions and exercises will be.
Here’s a peek at the recipe for my “secret sauce” when it comes to communications coaching:
I’ll break down your larger goals into smaller chunks - baby steps, if you will - and give you simple exercises that will help you train your “communication muscles” to react the way you want them to.
Because the big secret to confidence? It’s just practice and commitment to putting yourself out there.
2. A Communication Coach Keeps You Accountable
If you’re like most people, you’ve had a least one episode of New Year’s Resolution-esque motivation to “Get. In. Shape.”
You bought running shoes.
You downloaded “Eye of the Tiger” to your new workout playlist.
You signed up for a gym membership or classes. You stepped foot inside the gym at one point!
You were PUMPED!
But then what happened? If you’re like 99% of people, you lost motivation. You stopped going.
The short answer is because it’s freakin’ HARD to change habits.
And it’s even harder to do it alone.
The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) did a study that found you are 95% more likely to achieve your goals if you have an accountability partner with whom you meet regularly.
Ninety-five percent! That’s HUGE. That’s the difference between abject failure and absolute success, people.
So after we know your why and lay out your solid gameplan, one of the most important benefits a communication coach can offer you is accountability.
And on a human level, it just makes sense, doesn’t it? When someone is counting on us, it’s so much easier to do things that are difficult or scare us.
When my clients agree to start ten conversations or try a new story out at happy hour before our next meeting, and they know I’ll be asking about it...magic happens!
I hear from my clients all the time that knowing I’ll be checking in makes it much easier to follow through. It’s that extra little push to do what you need to do to achieve your goals.
And eventually, just like in physical training, you’ll condition your communication muscle memory until it’s second nature.
The more you practice, the easier it will become.
3. A Communication Coach Helps Find and Eliminate Blind Spots
Blind spots - everyone has them, but (by definition) no one can see their own. It’s a catch-22!
Maybe you use a lot of filler words like “um” or “like.” Maybe you unconsciously avoid eye contact or talk too fast when you’re nervous.
Whatever your tick or tell, it’s going to be 100 times easier for someone else to point it out.
One of the benefits a communications coach can provide is help in identifying, and then eliminating, your communication blind spots.
My number one priority is to help you keep those communication blind spots from holding you back. I will always be honest with you about what we need to work on.
But remember this - a good communications coach will NEVER make you feel self-conscious or shame about your communication skills!
It can be uncomfortable to examine your social performance, but a good coach will approach it with compassion and tact.
Check out this case study with one of my clients, Trudy:
4. A Communication Coach Helps You Improve Quickly
There are no magic words that will make you a hilarious and dapper socialite overnight. The only thing that can improve your confidence is commitment and practice.
We start small so you can build confidence over time and start to trust yourself more in social situations. (Cough...systems over goals...cough)
As you gain confidence, the whole thing snowballs, and suddenly you almost forget what it was like to be petrified of normal social situations!
Because your communication coach is working with you closely and understands your unique goals and situation, you learn much faster than you can by reading general books or watching random YouTube videos on small talk.
A tailored approach means faster results, and the faster you see results the more confidence you’ll have… Do you see how this is a self-fulfilling prophecy?!
Add to that the benefits of accountability, a customized game plan, and achievable, actionable goals and You. Are. Ready.
5. A Communication Coach Helps You Reframe Limiting Beliefs
Many of my private coaching clients start with limiting beliefs that they’ve had for years:
This is negative self-talk. It’s the story you tell yourself about who you are. And when you tell yourself a story enough times, it can start to feel like the truth.
But the real truth is you can hold a conversation. You don’t suck at small talk. You do know what to say at meetings.
Through our work together, you’ll notice that these old beliefs get challenged and then replaced by new scripts that serve you better.
One way that we’ll do this is by recording your social wins.
As you improve your communication skills, it’s crucial to track your wins over time.
That way you can look back and say, “Oh yeah! I had a great conversation last week!” or “I crushed my last presentation!”
Keeping a record and reading back over it is a way to teach your brain a new story - a story about the new and socially confident you!
Bonus: What Makes a Good Communication Coach?
It's completely normal to ask "What makes a good communication coach".
After working with clients all over the world, I'd say it boils down to two things:
1. A good communication coach will focus on behavior over throwing 1,001 tactics at you.
2. A good communication coach will tell you how to be a good client.
Understanding human behavior is key as a coach.
Improving your communication skills isn't as simple as dumping a pile of information on you and saying "Go get 'em!" or telling you to start 100 conversations in a day.
A big part of my work with clients is focusing on small, consistent actions you can take to become a better communicator.
This might mean looking at your daily or weekly routine and finding new opportunities to socialize or communicate more effectively. In coaching, we try to get hyper-specific with how and when you can practice, not just what you can practice.
How to be a good client.
Most coaches tend to try to sell you on them and their expertise. (Makes sense, right?)
But I hardly ever see any coaches talk about what it takes to be a good client.
With coaching, the most important factor is...you.
The three biggest factors in determining if a potential client will have a good outcome with coaching are:
The clients that consistently do this have the best chance for a great outcome with coaching.
Does this sound like you?
If you've been thinking about leveling up your communication and social skills, and you'd like to learn more about my private coaching services click here.
Or watch this video where I share more about coaching:
Not Quite Ready For Communication Coaching Yet?
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Over the last 15 years, I’ve learned... (Read More)
• 5 Ways a Communication Coach Can Help You Become a Better Communicator
• The Ultimate Guide To Joining & Enjoying Group Conversations
• How to Never Run Out of Things to Say