Powerful conversations

Self-management and the Coaching Mindset

Susan Brassfield Cogan


The life coaching mindset starts out in self-consciousness and ends in self-awareness. Getting from one state to the other takes some time and isn’t ever complete.

Most people who learn life coaching start out self-conscious. While we are usually comfortable having conversations with people, a life coaching conversation has a different technique. A lucky few get it naturally and the rest of us learn it over time. Self-management is how we do that.

Get curious

What you work for is self-awareness. Your presence is requested. Acknowledge your nerves, and your stage fright and consciously allow it to relax. Then the next step is to become curious about the person you’re talking to. What are they like? What is their perspective? The spotlight you felt begins to fade away.

This sounds like awareness of the other person in the conversation and not self-awareness. The two things happen at the same time. You acknowledge how you are feeling in the moment and then turn that awareness to the other person.

And then ask

Empowering yourself and others to be self-aware starts with powerful questions.

For example, you are asked to avoid “why” questions like “why did you do that?” Asking “why” isn’t really bad, but there are more skillful questions. “Why” could have a dozen answers that would be interesting but not helpful. Most often the only answer to “why” is a shrug.

More powerful would be to ask a “what” question. “What” is more concrete. “What happened? … What happened after that? … What was that like?”

And then listen

W.A.I.T. stands for “Why Am I Talking?” Be aware of how much you are talking and how much they are talking. I mean actual minutes of air time. In a regular conversation, people bounce ideas and anecdotes back and forth.

In a coaching conversation, the coach should do very little talking. Even tolerate some silence without rushing to fill with another question. This bit of self-management allows good questions to come to you and ideas to come to the other person. You start noticing when you need to hush up and let…



Susan Brassfield Cogan

I write self-help, life coaching, and political opinion. I am a creativity and mindfulness coach https://linktr.ee/susanbcogan