Opening the space for a client to stop, reflect, and then respond can unveil bonus information—new possibilities may appear. It’s a good thing.
Michaleen (Micki) Lewis, MS, PCC, CPLP
What Does High Impact Mean?
Relationship coaching offers insights into broader issues. Clients see with new eyes where they were stuck or how they created a problematic situation. To dive deeper requires questions that have a high impact…and elicit the ah-ha that the client needs to know.
According to New Oxford‘s Dictionary, high impact means…
–impressive, bold, compelling, effective; punchy; forceful, powerful, high-powered, potent, hard-hitting; intensive, energetic, dynamic
High impact questions make a person think more deeply about an issue.
Closed-ended questions result in a yes or no and often don’t get any deeper than that.
Open-ended questions can solve problems, and they may also generate a list of options or ideas.
High impact questions get the client out of a set way of thinking. When a relationship coach uses a high impact questions, it focuses the client in the present, the here and now. You present problems to a client with an urgency that leads them to take action.
The Elements of a High Impact Question
The elements that lend impact to a question are:
- It’s direct and straightforward, dealing in reality instead of speculation
- It encourages creative thinking and thinking at a deeper level
- It promotes self-reflection
High impact questions move a client closer to attaining a goal or solving a problem. Your client gets things done by dealing not in ‘why,’ but in ‘what’ and ‘how.’
Which One Do You Choose?
You can take any question and turn it into a high impact question by wording it differently. Imagine, for example, if you’d like to ask your client, ‘What tasks would you like to outsource in your business?’ An alternative high impact question that asks essentially the same thing would be, ‘If you could pick just one task to outsource in your business today, what would it be?’
In the original question, you’re asking something in the realm of imagination and ideas. The ‘would like’ of the question places it in the abstract. What you’re doing with the second question is asking them to make a clear decision – which one would they outsource? You also put a time marker on it by asking them which they’d choose today. It becomes more urgent and real, and the answer leads directly to an action step – outsourcing that task. Such a priority question is used for to get valid answers. The right wording forces a person to choose one top priority, and that’s the first step of taking action when you have many options.
Here’s another example. Instead of asking your client, ‘What would you like to be doing in ten years?’ ask them instead, ‘Imagine that it’s ten years from now. What do your life and business look like on a day to day basis?’ Even though we’re using our imagination and picturing the future, you make it more real and immediate by saying ‘what does it look like,’ as if you were living it right now. This is more likely to produce answers that are clear and specific. Instead of saying, ‘I’d be happy and successful,’ they may say something like, ‘I don’t spend any time creating my own content because I have a writer who does that.’ They’ve just defined a goal – finding and hiring a good writer for their content creation.
Part 2 – Listening
Turning regular questions into high impact questions that elicit clear actionable answers is only the first step. As a coach, you also need to listen to their response carefully and use it to guide them toward action steps. The whole point of high impact questions is to get them into the zone of thinking more deeply about their problems and challenges.
Here is a free coaching tool which provides a relationship coach and client worksheet as well as a list of high impact questions to give you examples of focusing your client’s breakthrough.
My ideal client is between 35 and 65. She may be married or divorced with one or two children. She is middle class, educated, and lives in a middle-to-upper class neighborhood.
She has always been financially independent. She owns her own business or would like to have a part time business of her own. She is discerning with money, though will rarely spend it on herself unless it’s for a practical reason.
She makes lists and likes to be able to cross everything off her list, even though there is often more there than she can achieve. She compares her achievements to others as a way of gauging her worth. She often is overcritical of herself and lacks compassion for herself, though finds it for others.
She grew up in an environment where she had to take on responsibilities too early, which forced her to put aside her creative, spontaneous side and lose touch with her own needs and intuition. As a result, she is an over-responsible, independent, strong adult. She is dependable and tries to be there for others, whether it is in her best interest or not. She is overly loyal and often takes care of others because she feels like she should because nice people do that.
She follows the rules. She lives a lot in her own head and is afraid of making the wrong decision. She is a thinker and analyzer. As a result, she has lost touch with her own feelings and needs.
She has difficulty setting boundaries with others until circumstances become extreme. When she does set a boundary, she feels guilty and often softens the boundary or changes it to suit the other person. She says “yes” when she doesn’t want to, then feels resentful. She doesn’t have a good sense of self-worth and therefore has difficulty honoring herself.
She’s unaware of her own values and using them as a way of navigating life or making decisions. She makes decisions out of fear or guilt. Only when she feels she’s been pushed too far will she get angry and lash out or finally give herself what she wants.
She is a busy person who experiences free floating anxiety in quiet moments. She tries to get out of these feelings through staying busy, eating, or distracting herself with Internet activities. She is afraid to feel “negative” feelings for fear they will lead to something bad or shut her down completely. She is knowledgeable about positive thinking and feels guilty or fearful if she isn’t thinking constructively.
She has a spiritual reference (God, the Universe, Spirit, Higher Self) and may engage in a spiritual practice. She has trouble with meditation because her mind is constantly busy. She loves self-help books, psychology, and spirituality (especially relationship books, Law of Attraction, and codependency). She loves to read or learn about these things so she can fix her problems. When an issue arises, a book or self-help source soothes her. She feels in control of the problem.
She is afraid to let go of control. She has difficulty relaxing and will often need to eat, drink, or distract herself with Internet use to relax.
She is constantly thinking about the future and the next moment. She’d like to have more fun or nurturing activities, but can’t give herself permission or justify them. She often feels overwhelmed and drained. Her feelings seem to vacillate between anxious and depressed.
She can be found working on her computer either from home or at coffee shops, running errands, and taking care of the people in her life. She enjoys bookstores and self-growth classes. She has a creative side, though it is undeveloped and not given priority. She has a worldly cause she believes in that she may or may not be aware of yet. She enjoys people and has friends, but doesn’t make relationships a priority – this can be because of lack of time or lack of energy.
She has difficulty trusting or being intimate with men. She often attracts untrustworthy or needy men. (Or this could describe her relationship to a husband.)
Her greatest desire is to learn to love herself. She realizes she doesn’t treat herself well and wants to change. Yet she feels caught in shame or guilt when taking steps toward this.
She is tired of feeling anxious and depressed. She wants to feel better about herself and her relationships, but does not know how, despite the self-help books.
She is attracted to my sense of self-acceptance, non-judgment, safety, optimism, and trust in myself and a Higher Power for my safety and future.
She is ready to work with me because she sees my story and wants the balance and security I’ve achieved within myself. She feels seen and safe.
I offer her a place to begin to get to know her own feelings and emotions without fear. I show her how to feel her feelings in a way that will allow, heal them, and lead her to hear her own Inner Voice. She feels encouraged to listen to and take action toward her own needs and self-care. She experiences more self-love, self-compassion, and self-trust.
She feels more settled in her body and is able to feel good about herself and her decisions. When she makes a mistake, she sees the growth and good without shame. Though life may present her challenges, she feels more confident in herself and in life to take care of her. She is able to be with others in a way that allows her to be real and unafraid. She is able to lovingly set boundaries. Her relationship with herself and others are healthier because she is different inside. She now honors herself and is able to present with others in a way that honors them.
New ideas and desires arise in her as a result. She is more in touch with her body, needs, and emotions. She knows more of what she needs and where her limits are. She knows herself and how to take care of herself under stress. She has the resources, tools, and knowledge to handle her life. She can hear own Inner Voice and feels empowered to take risks towards what she desires.
I learned about focused positivity from a stranger at a workshop. Positive thinking is a mental attitude that expects good and favorable results. Yet, attitude alone cannot suddenly manifest. A positive mind focuses specifically on the outcome of every situation and action. This is a powerful tool that everyone has, but few realize how to focus attention.
Seymour Taught Me…
Before I started the Academy for Coaching Parents International, I attended a workshop and met a man named Seymour. Our conversations led to one of my first ghostwriting gigs in completing Seymour’s nonfiction book. What impressed me about his rags-to-riches story is that he was positive about using focused energy to achieve results, and he became wealthy over time by focusing energy.
His advice to me about starting a new business was that it unfolded through positive concentrated focus. He advised that I put aside several hours for three days a week. In these hours, I would focus solely on one task of my choosing. I chose to focus on formulating and developing the Academy for Coaching Parents International. His theory that my concentrated, focused work for three hours a day, several times a week. allowed my energy to manifest,. Indeed, it did. I learned to trust the process on robust and focused positivity.
Positive Thinking Includes:
1. Our innate capability to produce desired outcomes with positive, focused thoughts. We create our world by the way we think and how we focus those thoughts. We do this by using the power of positive focus. Each conflict or problem that we confront is merely an opportunity to evolve and to alter the circumstances to our liking.2. Having belief in possibilities when the facts seem to indicate otherwise.
3. Making creative choices.
4. Meeting problems head-on sometimes by allowing focus for problems to solve themselves.
The Concept of Positive Focus Explained
Thought precedes form. When we concentrate our focused thinking on one outcome, we trust the process. We don’t allow doubt and interruptions to break our concentration. In short, when focusing energy, you also believe in the possibilities of the manifestation. Even if you doubt a concept like Seymour taught me, you can put concentrated focus to the test like I did.
My doubts did not bother Seymour. His support was more like “Try it. You’ll like it. If you don’t try it, you will never know.”
Of course, I tried it. Focusing didn’t involve any more than sitting down, stating aloud my goal for the process, and focusing for a three-hour stretch, which I chose. My focus was on researching and eventually manifesting the Academy for Coaching Parents International.
The concentrated thoughts influenced my universe. Each idea, once generated and sent out, becomes independent of the brain and mind and will live on its own energy depending upon its intensity. Thus, my concentrated focus worked.
All of our feelings, beliefs, and knowledge are based on our internal thoughts, both conscious and subconscious. We are in control, whether we know it or not. We can be positive or negative, enthusiastic or dull, active or passive. These attitudes are maintained by the inner conversations we regularly have with ourselves, both consciously and subconsciously.
Entrepreneurship is my journal that several coaches suggested I write, not only for myself, but for them. “The lessons of heart wisdom are for everyone,” they said. So, here goes…. if you like the lessons or find them helpful, please comment and let me know.
When a web site or a relationship fall apart, do you listen to the Pragmatic Voice, or the Challenger Voice
My friends and I felt good and celebrated surviving the emotional, chaotic energies of 2012. Boy, we should have waited until 2013 to celebrate. Because 15 days into the new year, when the web sites disappeared like an earthquake swallowing a home, my heart broke.
The easiest solution was to turn my back on the whole entrepreneurship mess, walk away, and figure out another way to earn a living. And I had to do it quickly. But that was too easy, and I am a neat person and can’t leave a mess behind me. I would always wonder What if?
When the What if? questions start rolling through the mind, they take the form of a personal voice I call The Challenger: “But what if you DID start over? What if you had new ideas for entrepreneurship? How fast could you make it happen with the right support?” The Challenger was trying to inspire me again.
“Not a problem,” said Pragmatic Voice: “When we have new ideas, we will use them, When a tech support person shows up who will work for free, I’ll interview them.” Ah, voice number 2 is so obviously pragmatic, and kind of kills the joy of being creative and entrepreneurial.
“That’s okay,” Pragmatic said, “You can think this second voice of yours is a killjoy. But one day you will thank me because this whole web of creativity you opened never stops flowing, and you focus it well when you do focus it, but …. you now need to listen to my common sense, pragmatism for new entrepreneurship ideas?”
I hate it when I lecture myself, but I accepted all of the inner wisdom voices a long time ago, because if I didn’t, the inner wisdom nags until I pay attention.
If all in my outer world of entrepreneurship is a reflection of my inner world, then I need a safe place, and to feel safe. I don’t like to make important life decisions from a place of fear. Like the Bengal cat who hangs out for a while, I do things on my time, my intuitive time. Like many sensitive people, the internal timing does manifest when the foundations are right. Sometimes, my creative downloads may take a year to manifest.
[ctt template=”5″ link=”e4349″ via=”yes” ]”And what happens when you push a project, creating when the heart and gut are saying don’t, no, not yet.” @parent_coach[/ctt]
Yes, pragmatic voice is right. When I exert my entrepreneurial will into my world, and I am not aligned with the heart feeling about the project, something does go wrong, When I do not listen to the gut level intuition, the organ for assimilating life, walking my talk, something goes wrong. I did that in 2012, thinking my entrepreneurship foundations were solid, running into snags, facing personality issues with my team members, and I stayed the course.
if only you has listened to me, heard me. Like a baby who stops crying when her needs are met, my heart stopped trying to get me to feel out the situation. Instead, I pushed so hard, that my heart energy cracked wide open, vulnerable tears flowed. Surprisingly the tears were of relief. The tears meant that crazy cycle of over-extending self in time, energy and focus was over. 2017 is the year to take one step at a time, insuring that I feel great about each step on the new path of entrepreneurship.
Do you listen to your heart feelings and voice?
When you listen, do you take action or turn away?
Do you hear the Challenger?
Or do you hear the Pragmatist?
© 2017 Dr. Caron Goode, Founder of ACPI.