Coaching Session 1 Tips


Helpful Hints

  • It's ok to be nervous. That means that you want to be the best coach you can be for your participant and you're hoping that you'll meet their expectations as a coach. Remember you and your participant are building this relationship together – it's new to both of you.
  • Throughout the hour plan to spend 20% of the time talking and 80% listening.
  • Strive for active listening:
    • Maintain eye contact.
    • Clear your head of unnecessary "chatter."
    • Listen with curiosity – be interested.
    • Focus on the participant.
    • Acknowledge the participant's comments (verbally or non-verbally sends the message you are listening). "I see, I understand, that sounds important to you."
    • Ask clarifying questions to get additional information or confirm your understanding. "So, paying for your child's education is your top priority. Is that correct?"
    • Restate what you have heard and ask for confirmation. "You mentioned that you are thinking about creating an emergency fund and need help figuring out how to fund it. Is that accurate?"
  • Invite your participant to share and then listen. After asking a question, allow some time for silence. If you have a tendency to want to fill silent pauses, do a Mississippi count to five in your head. Chances are your participant will begin sharing before you're to "five Mississippi."
  • This conversation is purely about getting to know your participant – their strengths, values, resources, emotions. The intention is not to dive deep in certain areas, diagnose situations, suggest solutions, etc.
  • Avoid using "why" questions, because they tend to suggest judgment and shame and are past-focused. Instead of "Why did you rate savings so low?" Use open-ended questions like "How would things be different if you were a 7 or 8 rather than a 3 on the Savings slice of the pie?" or "Describe for me what it is about this aspect of your life that brings you so much satisfaction."
  • Avoid closing an open-ended question by listing a series of choices from which the participant can choose – Don't ask: "What would you do with the money you're now paying on debt if it were all paid off; move to a bigger house, save more for retirement, start a college savings plan?"
  • It's their story, not yours. You may naturally want to relate to your participant and share how you have a similar situation or experience. Do this briefly to build the relationship. Catch yourself if you find you're starting to tell your own story.
  • Use the Financial Coach Notes Session 1 guide (Word). Take minimal notes during your session.
  • Following the session take several minutes to document your conversation. Take it out again a few hours later and add anything more that has occurred to you after some reflection.

Managing Time

Suggested "agenda" for Session One (1 hour):

  • 5 min. – Establish coaching relationship and expectation of roles. Obtain signature on Participant Expectations Agreement (PDF).
  • 3 min. – Coach shares briefly about your financial journey and yourself to begin to develop relationship and set the tone for sharing
  • 10 min. – What brought participant to coaching?
  • 20 min. – Coach and participant review Wheel of Life (PDF) (could take most of session).
  • 15 min. – Coach and participant review Personal Finance Wheel (PDF) (if time allows).
  • 5 min. – Establish homework for next session – financial focus areas. Talk about accountability.
  • 2 min. – Establish date/time/location for next session.

Action Required Following the Meeting

Please return a copy of the signed Participant Expectations Agreement to the program administrator following this session. Copies can be returned by fax, a scanned electronic copy sent as an email attachment or send the original by mail.

  • Fax – 920-628-5900. Please write "Attn: Jennifer Behrens" at the top.
  • Email scanned
  • Mail an original to
    Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
    Attn: Jennifer Behrens
    4321 N. Ballard Road
    Appleton, WI 54919-0001


Contact Jennifer Behrens: