Why don’t we give advice in professional coaching and what can we do instead to support someone?
There are many reasons why we do not give advice in a coaching conversation. For example, when we support someone come up with their own ideas, conclusions and actions they will be more internally motivated to sustain this process of development. How many times did you find yourself wanting to be listened to but instead your friend ended up telling you what to do, or even tell you their own story of what happened to them in a similar situation?
For me, I find that this quote by Plato sums up really nice why our opinion might not be particularly helpful and what we can do instead.
When our focus is on providing advice, the spotlight turns on to us, as the coach. It becomes more about what we think, how we might have tackled a situation or our opinion about it. This can limit accountability and real growth in our clients – which, a lot of the time is what brought them to coaching in the first place.
They want to explore, learn, grow, play and surprise themselves! By providing our opinions, advice and suggestions we take away some of that magic ✨
So what do we do instead of providing advice? We listen. Really well. We empathise with our clients and support them to come up with their own understanding. They reach those AHA! moments. We’re there with them, but we’re not guiding them. We’re on the side – a helpful aide, providing them the time and space to focus on what’s important to them. But we don’t take centre stage.