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Life Coaching Jargon: Core Values and Other Buzzwords

Every community or profession has it’s own jargon and slang – words that are only really shared by other members of that community. Life coaching is no different. Especially if the coaches in question have also specialized in NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), CBT (cognitive behavior therapy), hypnotherapy or other modalities that coaches work with.

And unfortunately, if you are not part of that clique or group, you may feel left out of the conversation, when words are bandied about and used that are going over your head.

So, today, I want to examine three words and phrases (coaching jargon) that life coaches will frequently use, without considering deeply that their clients may not actually have any idea what they are talking about.

I’m not saying not to use jargon, just that when we start using them when talking with a new client, we should ensure that the client fully understands what we are talking about. And, perhaps, in some cases, different terminology could be more helpful.

At the end of the day, as life coaches, our job is about communication and connection. If our language is not connecting with the client, and they are not fully understanding us, we are failing in our task.

Three Examples of Life Coaching Jargon


I remember, years ago, at the beginning of my experience in coaching (when I was being coached and learning coaching), one of my life coaches said:

People never change.

He was emphatic that it was impossible for me to change. It was impossible for anyone at all to change. You will always be who you are right now.

I was confused.

Then he said “You can’t change, but you can transform.”

At the time, I bought into that. As well as buying into the idea that change and transformation were somehow different.

Nonetheless, if you look up in any dictionary the meaning of transformation, you will probably find a definition somewhere along these lines:

Transformation = a thorough or dramatic change in form or appearance.

Oops. That would be “change”.

So – is it true that people never change? Is it true that we can transform?

I would venture that we grow, that we release lessons and habits we have learned throughout the journey of life, and what happens is that we become who we have always been and are meant to be.

If you want to cal this transformation – by all means. For some people, this will be radical and dramatic. For others, it will be small, consistent steps of mastery and growth – like habit stacking, where you stack one new habit on top of another one.

In the end, coaching is really about guiding the client to make the changes that they want to make i their life – to take them to the destination they are looking to reach!

Core Values

You may ask – why didn’t you start off with this one? I mean, it was in the title and all.

I know.

But I wanted to lead with transformation, because that’s usually what clients come to a life coach for. They have something in their life that they feel that they cannot overcome on their own, and they are looking for outside assistance to get them to the next level. That’s where the transformation comes in.

One of the key tools that coaches use with clients, to guide the process, is having the client identify their core values.

Life Coaching Jargon for Life Coaches

If you think about a company that you know, you might be able to identify the values that the company stands for.

Consider, for example,

  • Accenture: stewardship, the best people, client value generation, integrity, and respect for the individual.
  • Adidas: Performance, passion, integrity, and diversity
  • Coca-Cola: leadership, collaboration, integrity, accountability, passion, diversity & quality.

But, identification of values is not just something that should be done in a corporate setting. It’s a great way, in your personal life, to ensure that your decision-making aligns with what is truly important to you. Core values identification is about making sure you know – what are my personal guiding principles? What is important to me?

These can help you in choosing friends, business partners, or even looking at new opportunities, a promotion or a change in employment. Are these people, is this company, is this change a good fit with who I am and who I want to be?

These may represent some of your fundamental beliefs – such as “is there a higher power or God?”. Is that negotiable for you? What are your personal unwavering principles?

What is the measuring stick for you of deciding what will bring you contentment and where you will feel that you are not being true to yourself?

Integrity and Authenticity

As I just said – do you feel that you are being true to yourself? One definition of integrity is that you are whole and undivided.

It means that you are showing up as who you are – all the time. It’s hard to consider integrity without first knowing your values – do your actions consistently align with your values?

If not, then you are going to feel that your are not being true to yourself. Authentic people demonstrate congruence between their actions and words – and their beliefs and values! There is an internal (as well as external) alignment between “What I hold important”, and wha this person may think, say and do.

For example, take someone who has a value of family. Nonetheless, their work requires that they travel 50% of their time, and they feel that they are missing out too much on time with their spouse and children.

While it’s possible to understand the “necessity” that leads to this travel schedule, they may not feel that they are being authentic – true to themselves. You might be left feeling hollow, with contrived patterns of behavior, because you are not truly in touch with yourself.

Of course, there may be other ways to reconcile these competing values and needs – but when you look at the big picture of your life – are you being honest to your values all the time, not just in certain situations?

Coaching a client: transformation, core values and integrity

When a coach begins the relationship with their client, they will seek to identify expectations that the client has for the change they want to see in their life.

While the coach will work with the client, it’s not so much what happens during the coaching session but between the sessions that really makes the difference. The coach can hold up a mirror and bring a perspective and view point to the client – of what they are not able to see for themselves without help.

But ultimately, it is the client’s choice whether or not they go away and implement changes in their life through the days and weeks to come. A coach can help you identify your core values – what do you hold to be important and worthy? What standards do you want to live by?

But at the end of the day – it’s up to the client to make the day-to-day decisions – to align their thoughts and behavior with those values! And when those do align – they will have found their personal integrity and authenticity – and are well on the road to a personal transformation.

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