OR: How to Avoid the Star Trek Transporter Malfunction Syndrome

One of the things I often notice during observed coaching sessions is the coach phasing in and out of connection with the client. It feels as if the coach is intermittently tuned in and then…..not.

Like someone caught in a Star Trek transporter malfunction, the coach is not fully one place or another, but is instead some place in between.

In coaching, this shows up as a hesitation from the coach – a pause that is empty because the coach is not “in” the pause, reflecting, holding space, being deeply present with the client. Instead, the coach has gone….somewhere else.

Upon debriefing with the coach in a class or mentoring session, we discover the coach has gone into his/her head, trying to figure out where to go next in the coaching.

What often follows for the coach is a feeling of being stuck or stopped

If you experience this, it is a big clue you have disconnected from curiosity focused on the client’s development.

Okay – you may be saying – I already know I do this, Lyn. Now, what do I do when this happens?

For starters, remember what I keep saying:

Your connection with the client is based in your connection with yourself.


So when you become aware you have disconnected from your client, FIRST go back to your connection with yourself. Without this important step, you may tend to spiral further out of connection, into your head, into concern (fear?) that you aren’t getting it right. And the session can really deteriorate from there.

Here are three tips to antidote that spiral and help you get back into your coaching groove:

1)   Make a short list of ways you reconnect with yourself in the moment. One of the tools I teach in the Coaching With Love program: Take a deep breath and focus on that breathing for just a second or two. This helps to pull you back into your body and into present moment, which – oh, by the way – can help you reconnect with your curiosity.

2)   Be willing for the coaching to be messy. Seriously. The more you allow yourself to be fully authentic and vulnerable, the more graceful and streamlined your coaching will ultimately become because you aren’t distracting yourself with the “gotta-gotta’s” of getting it right.

3)   Get the muscle memory you need to feel more comfortable in those spaces of not knowing. Work with your mentor coach to internalize responses and questions you can use to forward your client’s discovery and movement. (BTW – this is the sort of thing we work with in the Leverage Your Language program.) And while you’re at it, work with your mentor on identifying where you go when you get stopped in the coaching.

Watch this space for more on this continuing thread; I’ll be sharing more on the signs that say you have disconnected from present moment, your client, your curiosity and yourself – and offer tips for turning that around.

In celebration of your being free of Coaching Limbo!