A metaphor is the dessert in a coaching session. Ah, there’s nothing quite as sweet as a metaphor about a metaphor!
As a coach and avid reader, I find a lot of delight in metaphors. They are right up there on my list of ways to play with words, second to puns of course. In coaching, what I find most helpful about metaphors is creating connections that are personally meaningful to my client.
Agenda setting is an opportune time to use a metaphor.
What I have found to be the most challenging about agenda setting is making sure that the client understands what I am asking for when it comes to the measure of success.
Asking what the client wants to talk about in a particular session is pretty seamless, but sometimes when I ask questions such as:
“What do you want to takeaway from our time today?”
“If we talk about _____, what will make this session a success for you?”
“What do you want to walk away with today?”
Especially if this is a new or younger client, not familiar with coaching, their response is usually along the lines of “What do you mean?”
Enter a metaphor.
I describe the agenda as where the client wants to go in the session and the measure of success as what the client wants to get out of by going there.
Here are some examples:
If the agenda is going to the…
Store, what item do you want to get there?
Zoo, what animal do you want to see?
Theater, what movie do you want to watch?
Or going on a trip, what souvenir do you want to bring back?
The key to using a metaphor effectively in agenda setting is that it is specific to the client. Ask them a place that they like to go and what they usually get there. This strategy is particularly effective with teens, but you can definitely use this with other types of clients as well. If a client needs more clarity around what a measure of success is in terms of coaching, a metaphor can be helpful.
Once you and your client are on the same page about what a measure of success is, you are set to explore the deeper meaning behind their measure of success and to make sure it’s measurable!