Five good coaching skills every coach needs

Good life coaches are in demand and their businesses flourish but to get to that point there are five important coaching skills and qualities to put into practise.

There are five good coaching skills every coach needs, and the good news is that everybody can develop them and develop a strong business.


One of the things that makes a phenomenal coach is the ability to look really deeply into what is happening for your client and to be amazingly present to everything they are saying.

To get curious about what drives them, inspires them, challenges them. What their kryptonite is. What they dream of and what they have roadblocks around.

That means asking more questions so you understand each other more.

In an intimate relationship, if there is no curiosity people stop growing because they assume they know each other already, in a kind of ‘nothing to see here folks’ situation. It’s the same in a coaching session: curiosity creates an amazing space to see how someone thinks and got to a certain place, which will springboard into where they are going.


There’s listening and then there’s listening.  A lot of people don’t listen at all but sit in a conversation waiting for the other person to stop talking so they can give them a solution.

Deep listening is not just listening to the words but also paying attention to the pauses. Paying attention to the silence, paying attention to the tonality that the client is using. Someone might tell you they’re okay, and while the words say one thing, their tone says, ‘I’m a bit off, I’m not having the best day.’


This can be tricky because we’re conditioned not to do this in social situations and silence can be awkward. Most people are good at filling the gaps in conversation because it’s expected, it’s part of conversation, but inside a coaching session silence is golden.

The silence is the place where the client is thinking and creating transformational change. One of the things I love to do is ask clients a really great question then give them space to answer it. They’ll have a think, and we’ll both just sit in the silence for 30 seconds (which feels longer than you’d think.)

In a coaching session this silence is perfect, so don’t rush to fill it. That’s a skill in itself.


Communication is about 50 per cent body language, then 40 per cent tonality and the rest is words. So one of the things I’m always paying attention to in a coaching session is the colour of my client’s face.

Do they go red? Do they turn white? Was there a moment they started to blush, where they looked like they heated up?

Whenever there’s an emotional change there’s often a colour change on the face. This is a very interesting thing to pay attention to because it tells me as a coach that something is happening to my client.

And I want to be really present to that. To tune in and be there for my clients, pay attention to things like changes in their breathing. Sometimes their breath will speed up a little or get a bit more shallow if they’re talking about something they have fear or excitement around.

Then when a client gets into a space of breakthrough or calm, they tend to relax, their shoulders start to drop. The client’s body language will let us understand what’s happening, and we’ll be able to be there for them.

When I start to see something change for someone, I ask, ‘What’s going on for you right now?’ This is a nice calm question to create space for them to be able to explore what’s happening.


What this means is learn from other coaches. Learn from people who have the results you want. It’s not copying, because you’re not saying exactly what they do, and modelling takes more effort.

To model, get really curious about what a successful coach is doing inside their coaching sessions, about the beliefs they have, the models and frameworks they use, the action steps they take, the mentoring or support they have access to—then replicate it in your own business.

One of the biggest mistakes when you start off as a coach is to blaze your own trail and to do it all your way. I get the desire to be individual but at the same time the best way to become a successful coach is to study the successful people before you.

Standing on the shoulders of giants is the fastest way to be your best so you can deliver the best service you possibly can.


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