In my experience, coaches don't usually intend harm by not following this list, they instead have not yet trained themselves how to be a coach. When I see this happening, it frustrates me, because it can take a client even LONGER to reach their goal when they work with a coach like this. An ineffective coach can even create additional roadblocks for a client. it can cause the client to question their own ability to think and solve problems -- the very opposite of what should be accomplished: getting the client to trust themselves and their intuition.
Anyone looking for a coach should keep these lists in mind, or forward to those you know who are looking for a coach. This applies to all areas of coaching.
A COACH SHOULD NEVER....
- Judge a client -- coaches are not experts. Clients are the experts of their own lives and know what works best for them. It is not the coach's place to pass judgement on the client or their actions. Why? Doing this blocks the client from making progress. A client needs to decide for themselves how they feel about their actions -- are they OK with what they've done? Not okay? A coach's opinion is not relevant to this. If it is working for the client, it is working for the client!
- Give advice -- this is the biggest problem I hear about. The coaching process is completely separate from the psychotherapy process. A coach should never give you advice as in "you should" or "don't do that" or even "go buy this book." The most a coach can do is to ask if you are open to a suggestion, and if you are, provide the information in a neutral way. A coach's goal should be to unlock the answers inside of the client -- the coach's advice is weak in comparison with the powerful truth that is inside of the client.
- Jump to conclusions -- I see this happening a lot. A client say something, a coach interprets it and moves on without clarifying if they understand. It is better to over-clarify than to under-clarify. Example. Client says, "I feel stupid that I lost my job." A bad coach will not clarify and assume they know what that means. But that statement doesn't tell the coach very much. Why do they feel stupid? What does the word "stupid" mean to them? Embarrassed? Silly? Depressed? Do they feel stupid that they lost the job, or does that part not matter and it's only the fact that money isn't coming in? Is the problem that they don't know what to tell people at dinner parties? Or could they care less about that issue, but feel dumb for reducing their prospects of getting a future job because HR people will know they were fired? Or do they care about none of that, and only feel stupid because their wife said they were stupid? There is a core issue that needs to be discovered before moving on.
- Say they feel bad for the client -- The coach's intent is to be supportive, but it comes across as patronizing and makes the client feel weak and powerless. Awww! You poor thing! You lost your job :(...Have a tissue! I feel so bad for you. This is what a friend says. Not a coach. A coach should empower the client by showing they have faith in the client's ability by the coach's actions and words. Expressing sympathy, or even offering a box of tissues puts the client in a weaker position. To remain equals, the coach needs to not focus on their sympathy for the client, and instead just do the coaching process so the client can move forward.
- Determine what is possible for the client -- the coach has no business deciding what is possible or realistic for a client. For one thing, the client knows far more about their abilities and potential than the coach does. If a client wants something with a burning passion, there is a reason for that. It doesn't matter if the coach thinks the client is a bad writer, or a bad poet, or not likely to succeed in business. For one thing, the coach should remain neutral and objective. The coach should not even be considering whether they think the client can make it or not -- who are they to decide? They should be asking the client what he or she thinks about the possibility of making their dream a reality.
- Keep it confidential! Clients need confidentiality in order for the coaching process to work. If a coach needs to ask themselves whether or not to share information with others, they should not. No one else should know the names of who the coach is working with (unless the client has decided to make this information public and specifically given the coach a green light to tell others about their relationship). Coaches should also ask for permission to leave voice mails or other correspondence that makes it clear that the client has hired a coach (even email subject lines). Even though coaching is trendy, it is still important to respect the privacy of people who want their coach to remain invisible.
- Focus on the process -- focusing on the correct coaching process prevents the coach from making the harmful mistakes already discussed. A focus on listening skills, objectivity, remaining neutral, and most of all, seeking to discover the truth in the situation from the client's perspective all help the client to evolve. Instead of worrying about the client liking you or thinking you are a "good coach" focus instead on what the client needs from you as a coach, and what will best help them evolve quickly.
- Be open minded -- the hardest part about coaching can be remaining open minded when a client tells you something that conflicts with your own beliefs. But being open minded allows a coach to step into the clients shoes, see the world from their perspective and realize that the coach's beliefs and values have no importance for the client. Even if the client is working to achieve a way of life that the coach personally would never want, it is not the coach's place to judge. The coach can instead re-direct that energy towards fully understanding the complete picture the client is painting.
- Be a partner in discovery --coaching is exciting because it helps an individual discover the most important elements of their life. There is the potential to completely re-shape a person's life in an extremely short time. This happens because when the foundational, underlying passions and motivations in a person's life are realized, then the right goals can be uncovered (these goals will strongly resonate with the individual), which means motivation will never again waiver, but will remain more or less steady throughout the rest of that person's fulfilled, happy life. That is a great gift to be able to give someone. But to do it, the coach must focus on discovering the layers of the client's true desires, instead of projecting or pushing the client to accept the coach's agenda or way of life
- Truth --this gets down to the basic idea of coaching, which for me at least, is truth. "The truth hurts, because the truth is all there is." That is a song lyric by Handsome Boy Modeling School. But after the hurt, is the accepting of reality that enables change. And after the change comes happiness. The small initial pain is overshadowed by the enormous happiness that comes from living life being connected to truth. Truth also enables a person to live connected to integrity, honesty, love and courage. Without truth, there is nothing else. Coaches can help shed light on the truth, which is a powerful thing to be able to do.
Want to find the best life coach for you and your goals? Need a new life? Career or personal dreams? Find out more about Life Coaching. I'm a NYC Certified Life Coach serving professional, ambitious clients -- I coach financial traders, attorneys, entrepreneurs, artists and anyone creating a big, brand new life.