Elevation is a fundamental tool that we can use as coaches. It has the power to completely turn a coaching session around and create a positive experience for your client. Elevation is the act of helping your client experience and acknowledge what’s good in themselves or their situation. The act of elevating will help clients feel more relaxed, as well as more open.
Some form of elevation should be there at the beginning of every coaching session to set the tone for a good, empowered, positive mindframe for the session. You can do this very easily by helping your client to look at something that’s good or enjoyable in themselves, their past, or their present moment. This can be a strength they have, such as a mindset, an approach to situations, or even a small act that they’ve done in the past week. It can be as simple as your client telling you something that was difficult and responding with “wow, you must have been very courageous to go through that” or “that sounds like a very loving place to be in” or “I’m noticing that maybe you’re sensitive, and that sensitivity can really be a strength.”
When you’re elevating your client, you’re always noticing a truth. Elevation is never about lying or making something up. It’s based on listening, curiosity, and practicing the skill of looking for the good in another person. If you’re having a hard time finding something in your client to elevate, just asking your client “Tell me about something that you really like to do” or “Tell me what music you like,” or “Tell me about your favorite place in the world” can help elevate them.
These are elevating questions, and when your client talks about something that they care for, or something that’s important to them, they naturally feel elevated.
Elevation also enables the client to share more. Sometimes, there can be a tendency for clients to experience self-doubt about what they’re sharing. They might say things like “I don’t know if what I’m telling you is good” or “I don’t know if you want to know this.” Responding with “thank you for sharing that” or “you handled that situation really well” can do wonders in quelling the doubt that your client may feel.
When practicing elevation, you’re finding those little choices that your client made that were friendly or good. It trains the client to feel that nothing bad happens when they share with you. It helps them to understand that you’re not judging or criticizing them, and that you believe that they make and are capable of making good, positive decisions.
Sometimes clients can react to your silence with self-criticism when they’re sharing their thoughts. They might think “oh, they probably think I’m an idiot” or “I shouldn’t have said that.” Keeping up a very consistent, elevating attitude towards them can change their internal dialogue. They often respond by thinking “wow, I really feel like I can tell you anything. What’s the next thing I can tell you that will help this session?”
Elevation is something that can be practiced not only in coaching, but also in our day-to-day lives. We can practice it with our family and friends as well as with how we talk to ourselves. Challenge yourself to practice elevating yourself and other people, and see how it changes how open others are with you. Notice the way it changes your internal dialogue when you respond to thoughts and interactions through seeking out the good in yourself, others, and your situation.