Some keys to empowering others

We see health professionals for all kinds of reasons, usually to solve a problem that we cannot solve on our own. In this part of the pl...



We see health professionals for all kinds of reasons, usually to solve a problem that we cannot solve on our own. In this part of the planet there are many qualified and knowledgeable medical professionals who have the expertise to heal our Rubix Cube type body / mind and provide relief (most of the time) for the issues that are of concern to us. .

Fortunately, we also have the ability to remedy many health problems on our own without having to resort to the health care system. This would apply to things like weight management, stress relief, improved sleep and many more too many to mention.

Of course, having the ability to do something doesn’t mean we always do it.

We usually know what we can and should do to improve our health, but it’s a challenge to always do a few simple things that science says will help improve our situation. We may do well for a while, but have a hard time sustaining the effort.

How, then, to take off?

In health and wellness coaching, it is often said that “the client has the answer”, a rather counter-intuitive notion. If the customer had the answer, why the hell do they need to consult an expert for a solution?

Truth be told, we don’t necessarily need an expert to solve our problems related to weight, exercise, sleep, stress, etc. A good friend, colleague or family member, with the right mindset and a few skills, can partner with us to explore possibilities that we are often blind to consider on our own.

Conversely, we too can function as a good coach for others, helping to discover new and exciting strategies for developing healthy habits and serving as a catalyst for positive change.

Here are some keys to being an effective “coach” when conversations with the people we care about are venturing into territory related to improving health and well-being.

Be fully present. This means eliminating all distractions, especially electronic ones. When we give another human being our full attention, we are showing them the highest form of respect. It is the basis of any quality relationship.

Listen more than you speak. In coaching, we aim for a ratio in which the client speaks two thirds of the time and the coach speaks one third of the time. Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about the person you are trying to support.

Avoid giving advice or having your own agenda as much as possible. It’s tempting to share our own story and talk about what works for us. Unfortunately, this is generally not helpful. People are generally reluctant to receive advice from others, even experts, because of an innate need to be independent, the desire to live our way, on our terms.

Be really curious, as if you are trying to figure something out for the first time. Ask open ended questions rather than closed ones. Open-ended questions, such as those that start with “how” or “what” lead to rich answers and are conducive to deeper conversations. Closed questions can usually be answered with a simple “yes” or “no” and can stifle communication rather than promote it.

Do your best to reflect, without being judgmental, what you hear and feel. When we hear another person reflect back to us what we have expressed, it can help shed new light on our thinking. Hearing someone else tell us what they heard us say tends to stimulate more insight than the internal dialogue we have with ourselves all the time.

Involve their imaginations. Encourage them to describe their vision of health in rich, sensory detail. Beautiful neurochemistry is activated when we allow ourselves to think about what can be. When we envision our best selves and think about the possibilities, we are more optimistic and likely to act in our own best interests.

Finally, be patient and accept that there is not always a clear resolution reached with every “coaching session”. The goal here is not necessarily to “fix” everything. It may take some time for the ideas to make a breakthrough in behavior. Trust that each engaging coaching conversation helps lay the foundation for healthier action over time.

Barry Bouthilette is a nationally certified health and wellness coach who helps people eat smart, maintain a healthy weight, stay physically active, reduce the risk of chronic disease, sleep well, manage stress, improve relationships and more.



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Some keys to empowering others
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