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Effective coaches practise empathetic listening rather than telling clients what to do


The effective health coach uses empathic listening to help


the other person feel listened to, heard and understood. This is a very active form of listening involving accurately paraphrasing and refl ecting back what a person says, but using different words that capture the same meaning. It helps to get the person talking more and perhaps understanding themselves better. These ‘refl ections’ are combined with summaries that draw together several things the person has said into a few sentences – summaries that are used occasionally throughout the session to check understanding, to move the conversation along, and to bring the conversation to a close. A nice summary might – of course depending on what the


person has said – sound something like: “The main reasons you want to lose weight are to feel better about yourself, get into some of your favourite clothes, and get more involved in activities with your two young children. Joining the club is something you’ve been thinking about for a long time, and you’re really looking forward to attending the classes and getting support from other people. You think


June 2013 © Cybertrek 2013


you will be able to attend three times a week, and you and I will talk again in two weeks’ time to see how it’s going.” It cannot be emphasised enough how important empathy


"If all health and fitness professionals


– trying to understand the world from the other person’s perspective, and communicating this effort – is for change and good relationships. It probably accounts for 30 per cent of the power in a typical health coaching conversation.


were trained in proven methods of health coaching, more members would achieve their health goals and retention figures would climb"


Readiness for change The health coach knows that a person’s readiness to change their behaviour is related to how important they think changing the behaviour is, combined with their self-


efficacy – that is, how confident they are that they can change (see Figure 1, p56). To build perceived importance for change, the health coach asks open questions such as:


• How do you hope things will be in four to fi ve months’ time, once you have changed your behaviour?


• Why might you want to make this change? • What are your three best reasons?


• How do you think things will be if you stay the same? Read Health Club Management online at healthclubmanagement.co.uk/digital 55


ALL PHOTOS: SHUTTERSTOCK.COM


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