A young man called me in the middle of 2020 seeking to set up a coaching session. He was feeling desperate, full of anxiety and suffering depression. He wanted to schedule a session at my office.
At the time, I was deluged with people daily who needed immediate help in dealing with overwhelming fears about everything from having enough toilet paper to maintaining a job, a roof over their heads and keeping some semblance of sanity. Relationships were being pushed to the brink and stress levels reached unprecedented levels. Frankly, I was personally being stretched to my limits of resilience. Due to the spread of the virus, I had no choice but to close my physical office and “see” clients only through the wonders of technology. The pandemic had forced all of us into re-structuring our lives profoundly. Skype and Zoom became my steady companions.
When I told Kevin (not his real name) that I could only work with him virtually, he became irate. I calmly explained that the pandemic had necessitated a change to virtual coaching. The upside is that I offered a significant reduction in my rates. Finally, the cost difference convinced him to try a coaching session.
A day later, I “met” Kevin. He was “zooming” from a room in his condo and I was in my home office. The session was extremely productive as we were able to rapidly determine his pain points and I was able to start him on an effective protocol. Over the next month, we had virtual hour-long sessions weekly. He was rapidly improving, more quickly than I would have expected. Why?
I was discovering enormous benefits of working with clients remotely, especially in working with Kevin. I could serve clients better. Here’s what I realized:
1. Meeting Clients Where They Are
As a personal development coach, I always start where clients are in terms of their state of mind, situation, and personal beliefs. But in shifting to virtual coaching, I learned much more about meeting clients where they are in another way: physically, and the impact that can make.
In the past, when clients came to my office, they typically left feeling uplifted and equipped with techniques that they could practice sustaining positive changes. But as soon as they went home, returned to their “normal” life, they often defaulted back to their old patterns once in their own familiar environment. They associated feeling good with visiting my office and being in a session.
By working with Kevin where he was physically in his home where he was suffering anxiety and depression, I could tangibly show him how to feel better right there in his own space of energetic turmoil. I could teach him how to quiet his nervous system so he could begin to think more clearly and perform more capably right there where he was. I could watch his facial expressions and body language. We connected. I observed immediate changes in attitude and outlook. I was amazed at how much zooming with him in his own home fast-tracked results. The more I paid attention to virtual results, the more I recognized quicker improvements in all my clients.
2. Appreciating Convenience and Flexibility
A zoom session can be launched in five minutes. With office sessions, I often prepared water, coffee or other comforting accessories and devoted 10 to 15 minutes readying the suite. Now, I spend that time reviewing my client’s issues and how to move a client further on a path to freedom and independence. Plus, I can often schedule in a client who merely texts me in the middle of the day. My appointments have become more flexible as I do not need as much time between sessions.
3. Controlling My Concentration
Working out of an office complex has a different dynamic than working from the serenity of my home office. In the past, I’ve been interactive with others in the building, distracted by ambient noises, outside voices, cars in front, passing people on the way to the restrooms, etc. At home, I’m the queen of my environment. The only occasional disturbance is landscapers with their irritatingly noisy leaf blowers (I’m in Southwest Florida so this affliction is year-round!) Fortunately, those moments are contained to Tuesdays between 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. so I purposely do not schedule sessions during that window. The result is I’m never distracted or disturbed by extraneous activities around my office. I can be wholly focused on my client and 100% more effective.
4. Being More Open
Interacting from their own comfortable home, the client is often far more relaxed. In Kevin’s case, he seemed open and expansive about his issues and feelings. If we were sitting together in my office, the energy and interactions would be decidedly different. I suspect it would have taken longer to reach the level of rapport that we tapped into immediately on line.
5. Reaching Anyone Anywhere
With technology, I can work with clients anywhere in the world which is a big plus to be able to offer more of my Integrated Life Training in more parts of the globe. I’m gratified to be able to provide solutions to more people wanting the secrets of building skills to reduce stress, anxiety, fears, or suffering. It is rewarding not to be limited by a physical location.
6. Expanding Time
My office is about a 25-minute drive each way. Without having to commute to my office, I’ve added an extra hour to my day. I use this expanded time for myself; to boost my own resources, my immune system, improve my outlook and take a break to walk, enjoy a warm bath, meditate, learn something new, or rest. I’ve gained time! At last, I can walk the walk and practice the work-life balance that I teach others. I have the time and am prioritizing a more healthful approach to my own life.
As I evaluate the expansive advantages of virtual coaching, I’m hard-pressed to identify a good enough reason to return to a physical office. What’s your opinion either as a client or coach? Please share!