What Makes A Good Health Coach?

What Makes A Good Health Coach? (Top 21 Traits)

Heavy metal musicians and classical violinists have very different styles, but the successful ones all have similar ways of connecting with their audiences. Successful sales clerks – whether they work at Target or Tiffany’s – all share effective personality traits and communication styles. Successful daycare workers all embody certain universal attributes that keep toddlers from running completely amok.

As a health coach, you need certain characteristics that help you connect with your clients. Yes, you’re passionate about coaching and empowering people to make positive changes in their lives. But if you lack certain interpersonal skills, all that passion and sincerity may miss the mark. The most important of these skills is communication. You and your client have a relationship, and like any relationship, effective communication is key.

So exactly what makes a good health coach? Here are 21 traits of effective coaches…

1. Excellent Listener

Being a good listener is one of the most important traits a health coach can have. A session is all about the client, something which a good coach is acutely aware of. Good coaches listen more than they talk, which enables them to get super in-tune with their clients. They don’t try to devise something clever or impressive to say while their client is talking.

Moreover, good coaches don’t just hear – they actively listen. Active listening is hard and requires a lot of focus. This is the chief way a coach pinpoints what their client wants. The best coaches aren’t in love with their own voice.

2. Great Speaker

Great speakers don’t brag or try to impress their clients. Instead, they’re able to verbally communicate clearly and in a way that resonates with those they work with. A good health coach uses the words, tone and pacing each individual client responds to, instead of speaking to everyone the same way.

3. Relatable

Even though you’re a businessperson exchanging services for cash, you need to connect with your clients on a human level. If you open up about your own experiences and health challenges, you’ll build trust and rapport. For example, if you’ve had weight loss challenges, you can discuss how you overcame them, which will help you to gain credibility. You’ll be regarded as a real person, just like them!

4. Motivating

Give only 50 percent, and you’ll get 50 percent back. But showing genuine enthusiasm, passion, and excitement can be contagious. Not only will an inspiring personality make your clients feel as though you’re excited about the work you’re doing together, but it will also make them feel as though you’re exuberant about them.

5. Compassionate

A compassionate coach means you’re not merely going through the motions. You genuinely sympathize with your clients and their struggles. Great coaches encourage and inspire. They never shame or pressure clients into anything.

6. Humble

A good health coach isn’t on a power trip. They don’t patronize or belittle clients by dismissing their knowledge, suggestions, and opinions. They gladly learn from their clients, knowing that exchanging information can be reciprocal.

7. Honest

Good coaches are honest and never lie just to make clients feel more positive about themselves. While they’ll always be kind and supportive, they’ll also let a client know if they’re not applying themselves or if they’re expecting too much too soon. Even if the truth is painful, the best coaches will always deliver criticisms in a constructive way.

8. Professional

The best health coaches are professional. This means they don’t show up late, completely forget the session, and definitely don’t gossip or text about consultations. They don’t take things personally, pick a fight or get drawn into one.

9. Loves to Learn

A good coach never stops learning and growing. Not only does this commitment provide personal satisfaction, but it keeps them current on the latest information about the coaching profession. Whether it’s research, new techniques, insights or novel approaches, great coaches have a receptive ear to useful information without getting overwhelmed. Coaches can also learn in practical ways where clients may have things to teach them!

10. Walks Their Talk

A good coach practices what they preach. They don’t eat potato chips and swill soda and then encourage you to eat clean. They don’t urge you to quit smoking and then excuse themselves for a quick puff or two. A coach’s self-care must set an example for their clients’ self-care. Great coaches know they must be authentic.

What Makes A Good Health Coach?

11. Sincere

The best health coaches don’t regard their job as just a money gig. They do what they do because they truly care about people and helping them become happier and healthier. This means you’re not just buttering them up when they’ve achieved something. It also means you have the integrity to be upfront and let them know – lovingly – when something needs to be improved.

12. Finds Common Ground

A successful coach-client relationship needs to go beyond recipes and essential oils. You don’t have to be besties, but a good health coach will try to find something in common in your personal lives from the very first meeting. Do they have children? Pets? Are they married? Single? Do they have a favorite football team? Basketball? What are their hobbies? If you both have dogs, you’ll have common ground and your client will feel more comfortable with you.

13. Supportive

A great coach is extremely supportive of any challenges a client is grappling with, large or small. Good coaches recognize that no matter how insignificant a challenge looks, it’s meaningful and possibly even daunting for their client. Good coaches can see the issue from the client’s perspective, yet still be capable of objectively offering encouragement and support.

14. Not Unnerved by Silence

In social situations, silence makes some people so uncomfortable, they feel as though they have to fill the void with aimless chatter. But in health coaching, silence can be, indeed, golden. A good coach doesn’t rush a client to answer a question or worse, answer it themselves with what they imagine the client would say, rather than letting their client think for themselves.

When a client doesn’t respond lightning-fast, it’s very likely your question prompted deep introspection, and they’re pondering an answer. This is actually a good thing and speaks positively to your ability to ask stimulating questions.

15. Asks Good Questions

There’s an art to asking questions in health coaching. Questions should be designed to be solution-oriented or crafted to refocus a client or inspire them. Even a question such as, “Tell me more,” can unearth a goldmine of insights. Many coaches stick to a list of “scripted” questions because they’re concerned fresh ones won’t work.

A question may trigger a breakthrough for one person and elicit silence from another. A good coach doesn’t take silence personally but sees it as a cue to try another approach.

16. Good at Reframing

Great coaches help their clients reframe. Reframing isn’t about “thinking positive.” It’s accepting an event, circumstance or relationship exactly as it is and looking at it in a more empowering way. (Politicians are great at reframing!) This allows clients to constructively deal with an issue so they can move on more easily. A good coach will see a reframing possibility in any situation.

17. Innovative

The health coaching profession is teeming with generic coaches who play by the book and don’t offer anything fresh or exciting. Great coaches distinguish themselves apart by experimenting, upgrading and expanding their skills. They set themselves apart with constant evolution that makes them unique.

18. Curious

Health coaches can’t be indifferent toward their clients. A good coach wants to know why clients feel a certain way. They want to know what drives them and inspires them, what they do and don’t like. They thirst for all the things they can know about a client. This way, they’ll have a deep understanding of what makes a client tick and how best to serve them.

19. Envisions the Short and Long-Term

Great coaches clearly see what their clients need in the short-term. They can analyze the client’s current circumstances and recognize what needs to shift. They can also envision the end goal and the measures needed to get there. Good coaches are also flexible enough to change tactics if another approach is needed.

20. Stands Their Ground

A good coach sets and enforces firm boundaries. For example, if they don’t want to be called or texted at night or on weekends, they make sure the client respects their wishes. They also don’t tolerate clients who are lazy, indifferent or take advantage. They have self-respect and will cut them loose. This also shows potential clients that the coach has courage in their convictions.

21. Intuitive

A good coach can accurately interpret subtleties – the tone of voice, tiny gestures, and the blink of an eye – and correctly interpret them. They realize it’s the nuances, not just the obvious habits, that comprise a whole person.

Conclusion

Health coaching can be a great career, no doubt about it (find out why). But effective health coaches aren’t just people who create meal plans and encourage healthier lifestyles. They’ve got to have certain specific traits that successfully connect them with clients and get results. They have characteristics that empower clients to be the best they can be. That’s what makes a good health coach.

Are there any other traits you can think of that make a good health coach? Leave your comments below!

Sources

  1. https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-active-listening-3024343
  2. https://socialpronow.com/blog/dont-be-afraid-of-the-silence
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/stronger-the-broken-places/201712/reframing

6 Comments

  1. Hi, I used to have a health coach in the past, but my relationship with him wasn’t that great. He was okay in terms of behavior, but there was something missing – I didn’t know what back then. Now that I read your article, I think he lacked a supportive attitude (especially in those moments when I was down). He also wasn’t that intuitive, he couldn’t tell when there was something wrong with me or not.

    Other than that, I think he had most of the other traits you listed – honesty, professionalism, plus he knew his stuff and did the job pretty well). It’s just those two missing traits that would have made our relationship much better.

    Anyway, thanks for the article. Next time I will know what to expect from a health coach.

  2. Todd Matthews

    You know, I used to work as a personal trainer, and to be honest, we’re much like health coaches, perhaps with just small differences. I think the number one trait is to be relatable. I can’t stress enough how often clients of other trainers ended up with me during my six years as a personal trainer due to the fact of their trainers being unrelatable. What’s sad is these people were great trainers; their workouts fantastic, but they just couldn’t relate to clients’ situations and as you know, no two clients are the same. We have to be versatile, and in doing so must relate to each client in a different manner. It’s a true challenge. 

  3. Mary Ann

    Hello Debbie,

    I never realized that all these traits were important but I would have to say that being a good listener and relatable are definitely a must. I have never had a health coach but I once made contact with a ‘money’ coach, someone who was going to help me make money. Instead I felt frustrated after the first two phone calls (no face to face meeting). 

    She was very forceful and she seemed much more concerned about making money off me than finding ways to help me. I am so glad I didn’t work with her as I am sure I would have been very unhappy. I think what was missing was that she wasn’t able to put herself in my shoes and understand that I really couldn’t afford the money she was demanding up front.

    Thanks for a great article. Should this ever happen again, I will watch for all these traits that are so important.

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