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Recently, I heard a group of new coaches discussing the challenges of coaching someone who is un-coachable.
As one coach continued to describe the situation it came out that this was a conversation between friends not a coaching session. They hadn’t talked in years. The friend was having a rough time and the coach, wanting to help, tried to coach her.
Hearing that, took me back to an unpleasant memory from early in my years as a coach when I tried to coach a friend and it ended our friendship. At the time, I thought my friend wasn’t coachable either.
As a new coach, I was so eager to use my newly trained coaching skills that I attempted to coach nearly every one if I thought they needed it.
And that’s the big mistake — believing that people NEED coaching. No one NEEDS coaching. It’s not on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
Now, I’m very careful to never step into the coaching role unless I’m directly asked to. And I’ve realized the arrogance behind the idea of thinking that people need me to coach them.
Coaching is a co-creative relationship. For it to be ethical, both the coach and the coachee must intentionally step into the container as equals. If the coachee isn’t a willing partner, coaching won’t happen.
That’s why someone might seem un-coachable.
Coaching is a professional relationship where the client invests in themselves. The most effective scenario is they hire you to coach them.
So, you might wondering now, aren’t there any circumstances where you can coach individuals who don’t ask to be coached? For me, the answer is no because I know the damage it can do.
Think about it …
If you had a therapist friend, would you like it if they were using their skills on you without your permission? Would you like it if your clergy friend tried to preach to or counsel you without permission?
Not only would it be annoying, it would likely damage your relationship.
So you have this fantastic new skill set. You’ve learned how to listen deeply. You know how to ask open ended questions. Aren’t those skills useable in so many settings?
Yes they are. But it’s not listening and asking questions that create the breach. It’s the energy and mindset you have if you automatically step into the coaching role when it’s not mutual.
The next time you catch yourself thinking that someone needs coaching, check yourself. Don’t coach. If a friend comes to you in pain, listen, hold them in love.
If they ask directly for your help, don’t step into the coaching role. Ask them how you can help.
See the difference?