Teri-E Belf, M.C.C.

One of the key competencies coaches have is acknowledgment. Useful acKNOWledgment leaves the client KNOWing more about his/her knowledge, skills, qualities, and attitudes. How many times have you heard yourself say to a client, ³Great job. Well done. Good work!² This is NOT useful acknowledgment because these comments judge and evaluate. Good acknowledgment is NEUTRAL (non judgmental). Good acknowledgment contributes to self-identity. To effectively acknowledge a client, offer information that gives insight.

Follow these steps.

  1. Ask your client to share a two minutes success story.
  2. Listen carefully for the knowledge acquired, the skills used, the personal qualities present to support the success, and the attitudes present.
  3. Make notes as you listen.
  4. Tell your client what you heard. (Delete the pep talk).


CLIENT: Jackie wanted to run 5 miles. Reading booklets and asking runners about stretching, eating, and breathing provided her with information to devise a goal plan. In three months she felt ready. She remembered her house keys because of her note by her running shoes. After difficulty adjusting her personally recorded affirmation tape on the borrowed walkman, she stretched and off she went. With pride, she shared her achievement by celebrating with a friend.

COACH: Congratulations Jackie, you set a goal for yourself and accomplished it. You used your support network resourcefully to obtain information. You know how to plan and created systems to support you, e.g., your reminder note. You persistently followed through with your commitments. You now know how to use a walkman. You tuned into your feelings and remembered to reward yourself.

Use this with your next client and I predict that both of you will be pleasantly surprised.

published by Coachingnews on June 8, 1998 Coaches¹ Tips & Techniques