One of the challenges all experienced coaches admit to is the temptation to get caught up in listening to their clients' stories. Everyone loves a good story, and if you're a good listener in rapport with your client, you can fill the majority of coaching sessions listening to tales.
Coaching isn't the same as a coffee chat with a friend. Listening to distracting stories isn't what you're being paid for as a coach. Your clients already know their stories. They've been living with them and telling them to themselves over and over. They're now looking for finer stories and finer lives. If you don't redirect them from ‘this happened and then that and then…’ types of conversations, they eventually become dissatisfied with the entire coaching process.
One way to break through never-ending tales is by having phrases ready in your mind to shift from the storytelling. For example:
It's a wonderful story, and I could spend all your session being entertained. That's not going to be most valuable to you. Can I ask that you just tell me only as much detail as you need to in order to get clarification for yourself on the real issue?
Or you can raise a hand to signify a cut or pause and say:
Can we hold it there for a moment? What's the essential question ...