Do you know them? The four steps to coaching

Contrary to popular belief, coaching isn't about giving people advice. Here's what it is and the four steps every TCI coach is taught so they can support each and every client.

There are four steps to coaching that I’m going to share with you, but first, a quick pop quiz.

What actually is coaching? How is it powerful and how can we use it for ourselves and others?

What coaching isn’t is giving people advice. I wonder if you’ve tried to give advice to someone in your family and said, “Do this, this is what worked for me”, and sometimes they will do it but the majority of the time they won’t.

They’re thinking differently to how you think and we need to change our thinking before we change our actions or nothing will ever change.

Albert Einstein said we can’t solve the problem we have with the thinking that created it, so we have to change our thinking then solve the problem.

Coaching is all about helping our clients change their thinking so it’s more empowering. Changing your viewpoint and perspective on how you look at the world.

The wonderful Wayne Dyer said when you change the way you look at things, they actually change.

I started at TCI nine years ago as a student, and when I first started I had these relationship problems with my mother. I thought, ‘I want her to change’.

Then I did my own healing around it, let go of resentment and anger—and my relationship with her changed.

It’s more peaceful and loving.

Yet she hasn’t changed at all. I changed. I changed my perspective and my thinking, and when we change our perspective we open ourselves up to new experiences.

There are four major elements of coaching that we train all of our coaches in to help them go from no coaching experience to their own coaching business.

Deep listening

Coaching is about providing a safe space for your client where you listen to them fully. I apply this to every area of my life. I apply this to my clients but I hold it very dear and apply it too to my close and intimate relationships. I wasn’t taught this growing up. I was taught as a man to bring solutions, someone would share a challenge and I’d say, ‘Well why don’t you do this? That’s all you need to do.’ Turns out it’s an essential need for people to be heard.


The second part is the power of validation. It’s a game changer to be able to hear the words, ‘Well done, you are going great, you’re on track, that’s okay to feel like that. You are exactly where you need to be.’ Validation falls into the sub categories of encouragement and normalising things and affirming things in someone.

Asking questions

A lot of people think coaching is just giving advice but that’s the opposite—it’s telling someone what to do. Coaching is about creating a space where the person you’re working with feels safe and not judged. We don’t want them to feel broken. There’s nothing to fix.

Then we will sit there and listen and validate and ask some really great questions to help the client come up with their own realisations. That’s the key here. The foundation we have is that the client has all the answers they need within them. We are going to guide them to come up with that, and that’s a beautiful thing to learn. So when we get together and do the training together we pair up our students so they practice with each other and coach each other. And through learning how to coach you are being coached and growing yourself as well.


The last and fourth piece of how to coach is through education. A lot of us need better education when it comes to how our brains work and how our thinking works, how our emotions work, how to communicate in relationships. A lot of this isn’t taught in schools or families. I didn’t really learn anything about my emotions as a guy. I learned to push things away and not talk about them so coaching has given me the language of how to express my feelings.


One of Australia's leading coaches, trainers and speakers, and head facilitator at The Coaching Institute. In between mentoring thousands of coaches and leaders all around Australasia and helping others build incredible culture, Matt is passionate about fitness and music. His healthy office lunches whipped up in five minutes are the stuff of legend

Matt Lavars life coaching
Matt LavarsThe Coaching Institute