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Coaching Leadership

Please, don’t make the other person meditate!

One of the biggest mistakes I made last week was to attend a peer-to-peer coaching session that was open to all. I didn’t see any option that required me to validate my coaching credentials. So, if you’re interested in “coaching” someone, just sign-up and you will be “matched” with someone to coach and be coached.

I think that’s a shoddy trade we can do without. My coaching conversation with this wannabe coach (actually he was already a “financial coach”) was weird. I broke down his coaching methodology for analysis, and here’s what I found:

  1. Small talk.
  2. No contracting, dive right into what do “I want to talk about.”
  3. Close your eyes and deep breathe.
  4. Remember a time you when you did something extraordinary.
  5. What did you feel?
  6. How did you do it?
  7. How can you use what you did last time to your current situation?

Huh?

Yup, that was it. A 7-step method to ruin a coaching conversation. Now, of course, not everyone’s expected to be a professional coach, but if you are a leader or someone who calls themselves a “coach,” keep the following things in mind:

  1. Please don’t make the other person close their eyes and request them to breathe deeply — they’re there for a solution/resolution and not meditate. Unless, of course, you’re a meditation coach or the other person is having an anxiety attack.
  2. Understand that whatever you ask the client to do has to have a tangible benefit. There are no two ways about it. Know that asking anyone to close their eyes sounds flaky and highly superficial. That’s not the reason they signed up with you.
  3. Seek permission before you use any tool — that could be a deep reflection, creative visualisation, anchoring, or even reframing thoughts — not doing so borders in lines of manipulation.

You don’t have to be a professional coach (as in the ones with a dozen or two certifications or accreditations) to coach employees, your peers or colleagues. But you have to be respectful of the other person’s time, attention, and patience. Most amateur coaches don’t know what the heck they’re talking about.

That’s why I think getting coach training is an excellent investment, particularly if you’re in a role/position requiring you to interact and work with a lot of people on a day-to-day basis. It’s insightful to understand the nuances of the coaching process. The challenge lies post-training when people start to brand themselves as a coach even if they have no intention of coaching anyone!

Why is it a challenge? With zero practise they show up to coach a real client (like me, in the case above) and fail magnificently. The whole damn process crashes and burns to the ground. Now, I’m an experienced coach, so, I understand. What if it were someone who seriously needed a coach because s/he was in a crisis?

The practice of “matching” coaches might be a great way for a commercial business to “give back” to the coaching community. But the lack of systems is only going to create a cesspool of wannabe amateurs who want to try “things” at the risk of breaking (or irritating) people.

Either way, if you’re not a coach or haven’t had the training and want to help someone, please, don’t start with asking them to close their eyes. That’s not coaching. That’s called “asking some random stranger to close their eyes.” And it’s as corny as it sounds.