Making the Coaching Connection


The first step to making a connection as a coach is building trust. There are several ways to accomplish this, including being fully present and focused, being genuinely curious, and using basic rapport-building tactics. Listen to learn practical techniques to establish a coaching connection and optimize your leadership skills.



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Bill Berthel: Welcome to the Get Emergent podcast, where we discuss leadership, team and organizational topics and best practices. We like to provide ideas, concepts, and pragmatic experiments to help you develop your potential in your work and your leadership. I’m Bill Berthel

Ralph Simone: And I’m Ralph Simone.

Bill Berthel: So Ralph, today we’re going to talk about making the coaching connection. Continuing this series around being a coach in your leadership leader. As coach, we know that making an, important connection with the people we’re coaching is a vital part. What does it mean to make a connection?

Ralph Simone: This is actually a favorite topic of mine. In fact, it’s one of the things that I think it’s one of my few natural gifts, is my ability to make a connection. And I think it’s making a connection at a deeper, I’m almost going to say a soul level. It’s not just connecting intellectually, which is important, but it’s also connecting emotionally. It’s connecting with the person. It’s seeing the person right in front of you. I mean, one of the reasons people respond to coaching is sometimes they don’t feel like they’re being seen or heard, or whatever is going on. And so I think making that connection is really forming a bond of trust so that they trust that you’re sincerely and genuinely interested in whatever they’re dealing with and are interested in helping guide them through it. Not own it, not take it, but guide them through it.

Bill Berthel: So, trust, we know that, I think it was Covey that said it’s the glue that holds all relationships together. But trust is a pretty complex thing. How do we build trust in this making of a connection?

Ralph Simone: It’s an interesting question, but I think it’s part of holding the space. I think it’s part of how we show up. I think it’s maybe overused, but it’s really about being fully present. This is where, for me, one of the ways that I ensure I make the connection is I ground myself before any coaching conversation. I clear myself of any things that may be distracting for me as much as I can. It’s like akin to going into the dojo. When you go into a dojo to train for karate, you remove your shoes at the door and that’s symbolic for leaving your problems and experiences of the day behind so that you can be fully focused in the next hour of training. And I think for me, that’s how we make the connection. That’s how we build the trust.

Bill Berthel: So I love that physical reminder of taking our shoes off. What do you do to get yourself ready when you’re coaching to be fully present?

Ralph Simone: I actually clear my space and, so particularly if it’s a Zoom meeting or if it’s a phone call, I clear my space of anything that might distract me. I’ll take a couple of deep breaths and I’ll just kind of get quiet. And if there is something going on, I gently acknowledge it so that I can release it, so that I can be as focused as possible. And I sometimes even will say to a client or an employee, let’s just take a moment, let’s both of us pause, and let’s set an intention for this conversation together and how we both need to show up for it to achieve the outcome that you’re looking for.

Bill Berthel: I, love setting that intention with someone that’s powerful.

Ralph Simone: Well, I think to make that connection, what we have to remember is most of us are still connected to what we just left.

Bill Berthel: Right.

Ralph Simone: And the challenge of making a connection with somebody who’s now in front of us is they’re still connected to where they were.

Bill Berthel: Yeah.

Ralph Simone: So it’s this intentional way of breaking that connection to make the new connection.

Bill Berthel: Yeah. Resetting it. I love that. What else do you do to build trust in a, coaching relationship?

Ralph Simone: This is a challenge from another one of my gifts, which is not a positive one, is I’m quick to figure things out or to judge or to have an opinion. And so I work really hard on releasing and operating without judgment by being more curious. Just to be curious about I’m wondering why they’re processing it that way, or wondering why they said it that way, and really genuinely curious about it, as opposed to, judging it. And I think that’s critical because I think people sense the judgment. I think they feel that, you don’t have to say, oh, that was a stupid idea, or Why would you do that? They can sense if you’re really holding that space. And this really comes back to consciousness kind of recognizing when I go to judgment, I think I’m trying too hard to help, as opposed to allowing it to unfold at the pace and speed of the client by holding the space, asking the question. I wrote a note to myself yesterday. I said I clear my area, but I let her talk was on my pad because there was a client who does really good job of just talking herself through things, until I interrupt it with some brilliant question. And so I reminded myself to let her talk. When she’s done talking, she’ll signal.

Bill Berthel: That’s really just a form of holding that space for your coaching client.

Ralph Simone: It is, and it builds rapport. And I think it’s really about being present enough to kind of match and mirror the pace. If they don’t need a lot of questions and they’re processing it and they’re moving, why interrupt that flow, right? This is kind of funny, but unrelated. I was buying, a car years ago, a Jeep. And, we’re in the showroom, and the guy says, well, do you know anybody who works at Chrysler? Well, we’re going to take some money off, and then we got a special promotion going. And the numbers keep getting lower and lower. And he goes, aren’t you going to say anything? And I said, Why would I interrupt the flow?

Bill Berthel: Why would I stop you? You’re going in the right direction.

Ralph Simone: And I think part of making the connection is not interrupting the flow. it’s allowing the flow to continue in some cases. it’s honoring silence.

Bill Berthel: That’s tricky, right, that space of silence.

Ralph Simone: Yeah. Because we need to be doing something right as opposed to just being. And I think part of making the connection is more about who you’re being in that moment, less about what you’re doing. There are things you can do to help you be more present. But I think that’s the key. And I do think there’s some basic rapport building. Pay attention to the style of the person, the language that they use. Are they visual or auditory or kinesthetic? Match that. For example, if somebody says, do you see what I mean there? And you say, I see it clearly, that’s a match. Right. Or how does that sound to you? It’s ringing true.

Bill Berthel: Yes.

Ralph Simone: Or how does it feel? It fits like a glove. So you want to match language. You want to match pace. Sometimes you’re going to have to pick it up a notch, because when you mirror and match, you are then allowed to lead, in some cases by asking questions that might lead to other things. So this making a connection has a lot of tentacles to it.

Bill Berthel: It does have a lot of tentacles, but I like how you just shared that making the connection then allows us to lead. This is very purposeful connection. It’s not just simply to be connected, but there are outcomes to being connected as a leader, as coach.

Ralph Simone: Yeah. So we can ask the question that helps the person see possibilities, or we can help shift the energy because they now trust us and they will allow us to guide them, to looking at it from a slightly different perspective. Or there’s enough trust that they might be open to us sharing from our experience, recognizing that it’s not their experience, but it could be something that creates an opening for them in their next course of action.

Bill Berthel: And I think leaders as coaches or coaches, that are internal in their organization a little different than you and I, Ralph, as we’re typically hired outside of the organization, are working to drive that person towards some type of action. And this connection is that fertile ground. Even if it’s an experiment, if it’s a specific direction or action to go towards, this is that fertile ground for that activity?

Ralph Simone: Absolutely. I think the role as an internal coach, leader as coach, is harder, I think, too. It’s harder because they are more attached to the outcome and therefore more important to make the connection, so that perhaps they can share content, maybe sooner in the process. But this connection, this trust is critical. I mean, when you build that, we have examples of that. I think we have high trust with most of the people we work with. And in some cases, they will actually engage us to do things that we’re really not even trained to do. Because there’s a high trust. And that high trust allows you some room to navigate. And I think it’s extending trust, right? It’s extending trust to the person that you’re working with, knowing that they will, do what they need to do.

Bill Berthel: It really is. And I know you’ve had many experiences like this as well, but there’s just something, I don’t know, amazing. Getting to witness someone growing or moving into their potential while having this connection with them. It’s not just the soft, nice stuff, but it’s actually seeing results. And as a leader, as coach, getting to witness and support your people, making that kind of movement in their work, in their lives, I don’t know, that’s a pretty cool place to sit and be a witness and an observer and a guide.

Ralph Simone: It’s extremely inspiring invigorating and engaging. And when you have made that connection and built the trust, people will tell you anything and everything. And why is that relevant? Because those are the things that either motivate them or are getting in their way of performance as a leader there is nothing more important to know. What is it that’s really driving this person to perform at this high level? What is getting in the way of them stepping further into their potential? As a leader there is no more important information than that. And that information flows when we have made the connection and built the trust in a relationship.

Bill Berthel: So, Ralph, for our listeners that are working on this space of coaching, or they’re more interested in being the coach that leads, what steps could they take?

Ralph Simone: Clear your mind. Release judgment. Be present. Work on being present. And so this ties back to consciousness. Know when you get distracted. Know some of your tendencies so that you can notice them and release them and bring your attention back to focus. There is no better way to make a connection than giving someone your full and undivided attention. No better way.

Bill Berthel: Beautiful. Thank you.

Ralph Simone: Thank you, Bill.

Bill Berthel: Hey, folks, thanks for listening. And to learn more about our offering Leader as Coach, please visit Thank you.

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