Rachel Coffey


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Blog of top London Voice Coach and Life Coach, Rachel Coffey

By Rachel Coffey, Sep 18 2015 03:16PM

1.The gift

You have one job when you stand up to speak and that is to invite people to share the knowledge you are about to impart. Imagine then, as you stand up, you carry that knowledge with you in your hands. A gift that you are about to place in front of you, between yourself and your audience. Invite them in, to look, explore and discover. A gift of knowledge that each person can take away with them. The gift allows you to stop thinking about yourself and focus on sharing the knowledge in front of you.

2. The conversation

It isn’t a presentation, its a conversation between you and your audience. You may be the one speaking however their reactions, thoughts and engagement means that this is very much a two way street. Every actor knows the very same play will be different every night, because the audience is different. Forget about pretending the people there to listen aren’t there at all, instead listen to them. Allow for pauses, which will give them space to absorb what you are saying. Invite reaction, by using your whole self to embody what you are saying. Work with their energy and in return you will be on a level enabling them to tune in participate in the conversation.

3. The core

At the very centre of you, you harness all the power you need to truly succeed. This is your core. Within your core is a naturally low, relaxed breath that will transform you from a bag of nerves with a tense voice into a confident, flowing and engaging speaker. Take a moment now to close your eyes and imagine a situation where you felt truly relaxed and somewhat inspired. For some it may be watching breaking waves on a beautiful beach, find your own personal moment. Notice how relaxed you feel and how relaxed your breath is. Use this moment again, before you speak, to allow you to connect with your core. Doing so will give you the breath and energy to naturally power your voice. Tensions will soften allowing movement in your pitch and tone. Crucially your core will send a message to your brain, letting it know all is well. Removing from your mind any thoughts of panic and instead making way for a free flow of thought. Connect with your core for a brief moment before you stand up to speak and you will notice a very positive difference.

Bearing in mind these three concepts, opens up the possibility of you becoming a naturally confident and engaging speaker. You’d best watch out, you might just start to enjoy it!

By Rachel Coffey, Jun 9 2015 04:02PM

So often I hear people say that it is really hard to change things. However when those same people actually make a decision to change, and follow it through, they tell me how much easier their life is is now.

How come we think change is difficult?

Could it be that it is the idea of it that’s hard. The thought of all that effort. The worry of failing to achieve what we set out to do. The embarrassment of wanting to be different. The gaping hole of what will happen next. And all the time, the comfort of knowing exactly what we are doing in our misery, a familiar blanket of unhappiness that is slowly smothering us, but lets us keep hiding. Yes there is no doubt about it, keeping ourselves in an unhappy place is really hard work!

How do we overcome the fear barrier?

Firstly, we look at it for what it is. Not how we feel about it, but what it actually is. The embarrassment of failing, for example - how many people outside of your immediate circle are even going to notice that you’ve decided to go to a yoga class/ put yourself up for a new role/ decided to apply for a course? Is it really a fear of feeling stupid in front of others or is it actually about how much self worth we have and whether we believe we can survive giving it a go?

Secondly look at the times in your life when you have made a positive change. So long as we are being true to ourselves, most of us would admit that often things turned out better than we’d hoped. Even if everything didn’t go to plan, the consequences of the change, the hole we got out of, the things we went on to do next, are often what go on to make up some of the best elements of our lives. Everybody knows the sign of a truly successful entrepreneur is assessing the situation, getting back up and carrying on. Same in life.

Thirdly we need to be ready for change. The new behaviour, needs to be worth more than the old. By that I mean, whatever we get out of changing things, it needs to mean more to us, be more helpful and valuable to us personally than whatever we got out of the way things were. That way we will keep on doing it and make it a success.

A last thought

It is always easier to go through change if we feel positive about ourselves. This may sound a little chicken and egg, but we need to believe we are worth changing for. Otherwise we can self sabotage our mission, by not having the confidence to give it 100%. We all know that we are really worth it, so give yourself a break, make that change and lead a happier life.

By Rachel Coffey, May 3 2015 03:00AM

Lou sat nervously in in her first coaching session. She’d never been to a lifecoach before but felt she was so stuck she had to do something. Lou had separated from her partner two years earlier, however she was so wracked with guilt that she hadn’t moved out of the house, filed the final divorce papers or allowed herself to see anyone else.

It was obvious Lou still cared about the feelings of her ex, which was amicable, but it was also true that there was no longer any desire from either party to rekindle their relationship, in the romantic sense of the word.

When she recounted the day they split, Lou said that, regrettably, her husband found out she had had a brief affair and this was the catalyst for the break up. It was clear she felt incredibly guilty about it and the fall out that followed. An understandable emotion at a very difficult time.

Lou felt that because of this the end of the marriage was all her fault and this had prevented her from moving on, instead staying stuck in the guilt of what she had done. Interestingly though, as she spoke it became more and more apparent that the problems in the relationship began far further back than her affair. Two or three years back it would seem.

The pair had been high school sweet hearts, only 15 when they began seeing each other. They made it through their university years and got married shortly after. Ten years later and there was no doubt that Lou and her husband were the best of friends. And there was the light bulb moment, the fact is the two of them had changed so much from when they were younger, they had become best buddies, but the romantic side of life had fizzled out quite some time ago. Their careers had taken different paths, with Lou’s husband regularly heading off to far climes for his work and each enjoying social time independently of one another. In a way, although they shared part of their lives together, they had almost become little more than flatmates.

Lou had been so involved in feeling bad about the situation, that she had lost all perspective on what had really gone on. By this point their lives were quite separate, but Lou’s husband no longer held any animosity against her for the affair. Looking at it from a different angle Lou realised that the affair was probably her way of crying for help, of causing an explosion which would make it impossible for the marriage to carry on. She couldn’t sit down and say she wanted to break up so she behaved in a way that would cause them to break up regardless.

The lifecoach asked Lou what she wanted now. She said she wanted to move out, get on with her life and maybe find someone new. The coach asked her what she wanted for her husband, she said she wanted the same for him and believed he wanted to move on just as much as her. The coach then asked what was stopping her. Lou shook her head and looked at the floor, “I just feel so guilty” she said. And what did that guilt prevent her from doing? she was asked. Lou said it meant that she hadn’t filed the divorce papers which meant that they couldn’t split the house, which meant that neither of them could be financially independent of the other and move on.

The lifecoach paused for a moment and said, “What is the purpose of your guilt?” Lou looked up blankly. The coach repeated, “What exactly is the purpose of your guilt?” After a few minutes of saying she didn’t know, she said, “Well, to keep me there”. The coach asked her what keeping herself there was doing and she said it was making her feel bad, like a kind of punishment.

The turning point came when Lou was asked how keeping herself there was of use to her partner, she said it wasn’t, in fact it was stopping him moving on - and for her it was much the same story. So by making herself hold on to the guilt, by making herself feel bad she was actually preventing them both from creating a happy future.

Happily Lou realised that it was time to let go of the guilt and set both her and her partner free to get on with their individual lives.

As a lifecoaches we see many people who feel guilty for all manner of things. However guilt can be one of the most destructive emotions around. It generally keeps people in a situation where they are making themselves feel bad and, as a result, behaving in a way that isn’t useful to them or indeed those around them.

The only purpose of guilt is if it is sending us a message that we either need to make amends for something we may have said or done, in whatever way we find to do that or if we need to do something that we haven’t yet done that will make a positive difference today. Then making a decision to do it and actually doing it. We cannot change the past, at best we can only help to change the perception of it. The past has gone, it is what we do today that will create tomorrow. Continuing to make ourselves feel bad about something will only cause us to self destruct and that isn’t helpful to anyone, not those around us or ourselves.

If you feel you are holding on to guilt, either about something that happened in your life or something you feel you did, seeing a lifecoach can help you unlock the past and help you create a positive future for yourself and, importantly, for others too.

By Rachel Coffey, Jan 3 2015 03:00AM

Self help books?
Self help books?

Ok, maybe that’s a little unfair, perhaps this article should be entitled why don’t self help books lead to lasting change? Most people have read at least one self-help book in their lives and many of us have tried out exercises and diaries that they suggest. Quite a few of us might have shifted things around or felt better for a few days. So often though I have clients walking through my door telling me they have read lots of books and they feel as though they have ‘tried everything’, but nothing has quite worked.

In theory they should work - the positive intention is there, the commitment is there, after all you have sought out the book in the first place, paid good money for it and taken the time to read it and possibly spent several hours or even days doing what you think it asks you to do. So why are you back looking for a different book next month?

I’m all for self-investment and I think it is great to read about the different ways that people approach change and problem-solving. However, there-in lies the nub of it. I suspect, this is their way to do it, not necessarily yours. In my early 20’s I once spent months re-reading the same book on ‘how to mend a broken heart’. A year later I still felt the same way. Since training I am now very familiar with some of the techniques described, and have used them successfully with clients, so I know they were perfectly valid. On the surface then, that’s even more confusing, the techniques work, but the book doesn’t! I have pondered and researched and I have two fairly solid theories as to why the books might not work, even if, in black and white, it looks as though they should.

Firstly, the language style that the book is written in will not change. It will be the same if it is read by a forty year old rugby player as it will if read by an eighteen year old chef. The language we personally use to process our feelings though is quite unique to us. Not only the language but the body language, images and sounds that make up our world. A book will find it hard to accommodate so many different styles of representing our own personal worlds. These particular thoughts or words, that often get repeated in the same pattern in our minds and bodies make up the meat of a problem we might be holding on to. They become anchors and trigger off certain kinds of behaviour and thoughts.

A really good coach will be able to quickly tap into these patterns and the language that a person uses to keep these negative patterns alive. By doing so they can assist the client in getting to the root of the issue and bringing it to the fore, where it can be rationalised, dealt with, busted away, however you like to think of it. So we might use the same technique, but it will be made entirely relevant to you and the way you perceive the issue. In my experience, this is vital for lasting success.

Secondly, although the book serves as another voice of sorts, when we are trying to solve our own problems we usually represent them in the way we have always seen them. This often results in missing out key relevant factors or simply not noticing them, when we are putting the matter on the table. We tend not to ask ourselves pertinent or tricky questions that we might have never thought of or wanted to face - sometimes for the obvious reason that we have never even imagined them! As we are in the issue, it is extremely difficult, especially when dealing with something that we have, thus far, been unable to solve, to have an outside perspective and see the whole picture. This happens even if, deep down, we know that other factors are there.

The key to solving our problem often lies locked within our subconscious. A book has to go through our conscious mind, for us to be able to read it. A skilled coach, however, should be able to work simultaneously with both the conscious and subconscious mind, bringing to the fore the issues, reasons and solutions that the client needs to find to move on. Many times a client will ask me how I know something about them or their situation. I’ll tell, them quite simply, that it is because they have told me. Sometimes though we don’t even notice the solutions that we already hold, because we were probably searching hard in the opposite direction.

Having that sounding board, the feedback and a skilled (non-judgmental) outside eye can make the difference between years of trying and a month of realisation, relief and change.

In short, the reason why often self help books don’t really help is, in my opinion, because it's your unique problem, that requires a unique, client-centred solution. They are great for widening our perspective and looking at different people’s solutions. My advice, if you feel you have a book that ‘should’ work but doesn’t, is take the advice or exercise and re-write it in your own words. Tailor it perfectly to you and then record it and play it back. You may even need to ‘learn’ this new version of it and play it back in your mind. This way you will have the best chance of making the solution yours and using it as a tool to solve your problem.

If you can afford it, then find a good coach that you feel can work on your wave-length. If you want them to ask them to give you some exercises or tasks for you to do at home too. This way you get the best of both worlds - just think of it as the ultimate self-help book, written perfectly for you.

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