Sunday, 2 November 2008

Giving and receiving advice

Coaching is about self-development in any area of your life - work, home, relationships, finances. Coaches do NOT give advice within the context of the coaching relationship.

Think about how you give and receive advice. We've all been in the situation of giving advice to a friend (asked for or not!) who doesn't take it. How do you feel about that? Angry? Resentful? "If you're not going to do what I say, why keep moaning about the situation?"

When you ask for advice, how often are you completely honest about the full situation - particularly in family and relationship matters? You may keep things back which you feel are too embarrassing or shameful to reveal.

How often, when you ask for advice, do you already secretly know what you're going to do, but just want someone else to say its OK, either for reassurance, or so you can avoid responsibility for the decision? If someone doesn't give you the answer you want, how often do you keep asking others until you do receive that answer?

In the coaching relationship, the Coach uses their skills and experience to question you in order to access your own inner wisdom, or uses different tools to help you come up with creative, fresh possible solutions, action plans, insights. How often have you had a 'lightbulb monent' about a situation just by someone asking you the right question?

Coaching is about you as a person taking responsibility for your own goals, choices, actions. The premise of coaching is that YOU are the expert in living your life. You just need a little help in learning how to access what you already know, often without knowing you know it.

If a Coach starts giving advice within the context of the coaching relationship, they are disempowering you, potentially building up resentment. Of course, many Coaches have skills, qualifications, experience in other areas - finance, law, business, consulting, counselling, therapy, and if you want their advice then that is absolutely fine, but make sure that it is very clear at the outset of any session why you are there - is this a coaching session, or something else? Each session will run on different lines depending on the outcomes desired. I coach someone who occasionally calls and says 'I don't want Coach today, I want Wise Old Friend' so we are both very clear, right at the start, what the roles are.

Some people have said to me "why on earth would anyone pay you to ask them questions that they know the answers to?", my response to that is many times, people do not know what questions they need to ask themselves to access the knowledge that they have. When I use a questionning technique or tool with a Client, that then becomes available to them to access for themselves at any time in the future. The aim of a course of coaching sessions is that the Client becomes independent. Just as you wouldn't expect to visit your GP week in, week out, nor would you expect to have coaching sessions for lengthy, extended periods of time.

Here are some snippets from testimonials I have received from clients on these points:

"Brigid’s questioning throughout the sessions was very searching and thought provoking. I began to see things from a very different perspective."

"I am considering things I hadn’t previously thought about and am learning new lessons all the time. I think after these sessions with Brigid, I am able to use my time far more effectively and am much less likely to be taken advantage of in business terms..."

"(She) showed me that I was already equipped with the tools to deal with difficult situations, I just needed to know how to use them."

"The tools that I am using, I always had. I guess it just took someone else with the know how and patience to help me find them."

"I have a greater sense of how to take control now than I did six months ago"