Why Does Coaching Work?
I have a theory on this. When my friends, colleagues and clients ask me, "Why does coaching work?", I tell them that in its most basic terms, it's just a matter of manners! They smile politely at me and probably think that I'm verging on crazy, but I truly believe that one of the biggest drivers behind the coaching technique is the reliance on someone having enough manners to answer the coach when they ask a question. And I'm not just talking about asking you what your favourite colour is.
Think about it, if you were to stand in front of the mirror and ask yourself the most challenging questions you can think of. Questions like, "Who are you?", "What is it that you want from life?", "Where is your business going?", "What makes you believe that you are wrong / right?", "Why is this important to you?", (whatever the most challenging question might be for you), what do you think would happen? The likelihood is that you would avoid making eye contact with yourself, turn away from your reflection, shrug your shoulders and bury the question as far away as you could. As human beings, we really don't enjoy confronting this stuff with ourselves and would rather put it from our minds, promising ourselves that we will definitely tackle those thorny issues. Tomorrow? Next week? Someday?
Replay this scenario with a coach in the picture. A coach who has spent careful time in building their rapport with you, someone who has your best interests at heart, someone who is supporting you in reaching your goals and someone you trust implicitly. Imagine that they are there sitting opposite you, looking directly into your eyes and waiting to hear (yes, really hear!) your answer. Now imagine that they ask you the question of all questions. What happens this time? Can you avoid eye contact? Difficult. Can you walk away? Well you've paid this person, so why would you do that? Can you ignore the question, when you know that they (and if you are being totally honest, also you) want to hear your answer? Absolutely not! So you find your self answering the question, out of politeness to start with, but then you realise that your coach isn't laughing at your reply, they are listening intently and nodding and encouraging you to say more. This gives you confidence, and suddenly you find that there's no stopping you! A torrent of long stored up concerns, ideas, beliefs and values are filling up the space your coach has gifted you and it feels good to have it out there. Simply because you felt compelled by good manners and politeness to answer the question your coach asked.
So next time you are faced with a difficult question that you know you need to answer, but you can't bring yourself to ask and answer your reflection; consider the benefits to your future of employing a coach and being polite!
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