Socratic Questioning and the nature of coaching (pt2)

An imaginary conversation between a coach and their supervisor, illustrating the use of Socratic questioning.
Co: “I am beginning to get desperate. I’ve only got two clients, and if I don’t get at least a dozen every month, then I am going to have to get a ‘real’ job.”
Sv: “What have you been doing to get clients, so far?” [Probing evidence…]
Co: “Oh, all the usual things; I’ve got a website, and an entry on ‘Coaching Directory’, both of which show all my qualifications and accreditations, and I’ve been to loads of networking events.”
Sv: “You say they are the ‘usual’ things…?”  [Probing assumptions…]
Co: “Well, they are the ‘obvious’ ones, then.”
Sv: “Let’s suppose that someone was an ideal client of yours… how do you hope they will find you?” [Questioning viewpoint…]
Co: “Well, I think it is most likely that someone will give them my name…”
Sv: “So, of your current activities, it is really the networking events that are most likely to lead to referrals like that?” [Clarifying concepts…]
Co: “Yes, I suppose so, now you put it like that.”
Sv: “What do you do when you are there?” [Clarifying concept]
Co: “Err… well, I talk to people, what are you thinking of?”
Sv: “Well, I wondered what you do to help someone you meet like that to go from being a random stranger to one of your ambassadors?” [Clarifying concepts…]]
Co: “What’s an ambassador?”
Sv: “How would YOU interpret that?” [Questioning question…]
Co: “You mean someone who tells people about me and my work?”
Sv: “Mmm… I mean they need to like you, which is easy, but it takes something to recommend a stranger to their best friend…” [Probing rationale…]
Co: “Interesting point… I guess that is a big ask.  They need to trust me, I suppose.”
Sv: “So, what do you think you can do to help build that trust with people quickly?” [Probing rationale…]
Co: “Part of that is about how I talk to them – I could probably be more like I’m coaching them…”
Sv: “Yes, that’s an interesting idea… I wonder whether you could leave them with something other than a business card to remind them of you?” [Clarifying concept…]
Co: “We aren’t allowed to take business literature to these events…!”
Sv: “Just business cards?… So how else could you get that in front of them?” [Clarifying concept…]
Co: “Well I keep meaning to follow up afterwards, but I’m useless at that.”
Sv: “What gets in the way?” [Probing assumptions…]
Co: “Time…., once I’m home the last thing I think of is a follow up, because they are so time-consuming.  I just need to be more systematic about it.”
Sv: “I’m wondering what the best kind of literature would be to leave a prospective ambassador – how that would differ from a leaflet for the actual client? [Clarifying concept…]
Co: “Interesting…?  If nothing else, maybe to sow the seed of the idea that people refer friends and colleagues to me?”
Sv: “Now THAT is an interesting thought!  How could you build that in?”  [Clarifying concept…]
Co: “I have a page with two or three ‘case studies’ which I give people… I could just add a sentence to explain how they got to find me.”
Sv: “A plan is emerging!  You said that you get to loads of networking events… What is ‘loads’?”  [Probing evidence…]
Co: “I try to get to one or two a month.”
Sv: “How many referrals do you expect to get at each one?”  [Probing implications…]
Co: “One, maybe two, would be pretty reasonable.”
Sv: “And you need to get six or seven more clients to have a sustainable practice?”  [Probing implications…]
Co: “I see where you are going… that’s going to take six months or so, isn’t it?”
Sv: “You tell me…”  [Probing consequences…]
Co: “I need to get to a lot more don’t I?”
Sv: “How many would be reasonable?”  [Probing implications…]
Co: “Well, now you mention it, as many as I can!”
Sv: “OK, and are there any other ways in which you could engage with prospective ambassadors…?” [Clarifying concept…]

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