What is the best attitude for Coaching?

March 21st, 2016 by Douglas McEncroe · No Comments · Liderazgo

FortressA little while ago I had one of those coaching sessions in which I felt that I was trying to breach a fortress with a battering ram, and I can tell you three hours shoving the battering ram is pretty tiring.

Some people, no matter how many times you tell them that you are not here to judge them, that you are on their side, still keep up the defences. This produces a monumental waste of time with the coachee losing a great opportunity to get some clarity and move ahead.


It doesn’t have to be like this

Usually, this defensiveness comes from the coachee having received some negative feedback, either directly or through a formal 360 degree feedback process. It is understandable that any type of criticism can trigger a certain amount of defensiveness, even from the most mature coachee, the question is however, does this attitude serve the coachee in any way? The answer has to be, no.

I’ve always thought that feedback needs to be assimilated in two readings. One to allow yourself the emotions that criticism will justifiably give rise to, and then a second reading to distance yourself from the feedback and dissect it, like a skilful surgeon, taking out those elements that can in some way serve you.

Part of this process should also be to dissect all of the good parts of the feedback. People are usually obsessed with all of the negative elements of the feedback when it is often more effective to also take out the positive elements and ask yourself, are you getting all of the benefits that these positive assets can give you. There is of course a whole movement built on this called strength based development, who champion people developing to the maximum their strengths. However, you do also need to focus on those elements that are in some way hindering your effectiveness.


Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn


The defensive coachee doesn’t however get to this stage as he is too busy trying to convince his coach that these the people who gave this feedback are wrong, or are not objective, or don’t have all of the information or simply have it in for him. What he fails to understand is that the coach doesn’t really care. If he is a good coach he will try during the session, in many ways, to breach the defences so that the coachee can identify which element of this feedback might actually be true and, more importantly, stand in the way of getting what the coachee wants. But, at the end of the day, it isn’t the coach’s problem, he will go home that night and sleep pretty well because he knows he did his best. It is the coachee who lost the opportunity to move ahead.


What is the best attitude for a Coachee to have?


Know what you really want, what is important for you.

Be curious about knowing all those things about you that could help you or hinder you in getting what you want.

Remember that you are human and that it is human to err.

Don’t worry about who said what about you, just be interested in knowing if it is true or not.

Remember that you can change behaviours, especially when you are motivated to do so.

Understand that your coach is your ally. If he is good, he is not there to judge you, all he is interested in doing is helping you advance.

Remember that your coach too is human and that he too makes mistakes and has some negative behaviours, which is part of the reason that he doesn’t judge you.

Face your challenges with courage. I have seen coaches who are open, move mountains.


So don’t force your coach to use the battering ram, open the door and let the sunshine in.


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