A life coach helps people to get clarity on what matters to them and to work out an action plan to achieve their goals. This can sometimes lead to a question: Why would anyone pay another person to tell them how to live their life? This question reflects a very common misconception about life coaching that might make people hesitant to hire a life coach.

The first and most important point to be emphasized about life coaching in its truest sense is that it is non-directive. It is not about instructing or directing anyone how to live their lives. It is very little about even advising or guiding. It is about working with someone, not doing something to them.

Life coaching is different from consulting, counselling, therapy, or mentoring in many ways. Each of these disciplines has its value, effectiveness, and suitability depending on the client’s circumstances. Similarly, life coaching occupies a unique space in a person’s life. It is the art of drawing the best out of a person through powerful conversations.

Typical life coaching sessions comprise of three important elements – listening, questioning, and playing back what a client communicates.


There are many levels of listening in any conversation. The reality of today’s world is that it is extremely rare to find a person who would listen to you at the highest level of listening. People simply don’t have the time or interest to invest in your life and struggles as they have their own problems to deal with.

A life coach is trained to listen at the highest level; add to that complete confidentiality and lack of judgement or bias, and it gets a little clearer as to why good life coaches are so much in demand. There is also the importance of reading between the lines to understand what might not be said, staying silent at crucial points in the conversation, and using techniques to prevent too much digressing or rambling. The purpose of active and attentive listening is to build a relationship of trust between the coach and the client.


When it comes to questions, the broadest classification is open and closed – open being questions that bring forth a yes or no answer and closed being the ones that elicit more detailed answers. There are also many other types of powerful questions used to draw out information – probing, clarifying, hypothetical, reframing, differentiating, scaling, etc.

Playing back

The ability and willingness of the listener to play back the main points of what the speaker has said demonstrate empathy and understanding while eliminating any possibility of misunderstanding. The art of playing back the gist of a conversation includes summarizing, paraphrasing, and reflecting. The intent behind the playback is to ensure that everything that is in the mind of the client concerning the topic under discussion is totally out in the open.

In addition to the above, there is one overarching factor that could be the defining difference between having a dream and making the dream a reality – accountability. It is human instinct to feel more accountable to another person than oneself, and a coach provides that accountability.

Just as the importance of a sports coach to hone sporting skills or a fitness coach to achieve fitness goals can never be underestimated, a life coach can play an invaluable role in achieving one’s full potential. The key is to find the right coach, who has the qualifications and experience to deliver maximum value. The NZIBS Life Coach training course offers the perfect launchpad for someone keen to pivot into the coaching world. The comprehensive course curriculum and the flexible study options help make the transition seamless and will set you up for success as a life coach.

Do you like guiding people?

Do you have life experience? Are you a good communicator? Use your skills and experiences to become a paid professional, and the real satisfaction comes from helping people.