Many people have mistaken coaching as telling what one should do, and giving expert advises on how to do it. They wrongly perceive that coaching is walking someone through step-by-step, directing them to achieve their goal. It’s a common misperception. There’s nothing wrong with the approaches mentioned above, but they’re not coaching.
Unlike mentoring, instructing, teaching, advising, consulting and the likes, coaching is a non-directive approach to partner with the coachee to get what they want, or many times, to help them to gain clarity and realize what they truly want.
Why Telling and Giving Advice Rarely Work
I’m not saying that giving advice is totally bad and doesn’t work at all; I’m suggesting that it has its place and time to be effective – often not too early in the conversation.
I once read an expert in neuroscience and behavioral science who explained it like this: Just like Newton’s third law (every action has an equal and opposite reaction), telling someone what to do will draw a natural opposing force to resist the ‘good advice’. When there’s a ‘push’, there will be resistance to push back. This happens unconsciously in the brain many times. It is even more so if the rapport and emotional matching have not been firmly established between the two parties in the first place.
I’ve a question for you: Would you rather like people to think of you as being supportive and understanding, or condenscending and arrogant?
It may be a surprise for you to know that most people are actually portraying the latter by offering advice too early and too much.
Nobody likes to be told what to do by someone “who knows better” than them. If they do take the advice, it’ll only be once out of obligation or respect, and no lasting positive impact is created.
Raising Self-Awareness – A Better Way To Influence
In my earlier post on raising self-awareness, a person will take self-corrective actions when enough self-awareness is raised. That is infinitely better than telling and offering advice – because by drawing him to see for himself and gain realization, he will know (clarity!) what to do for himself. The best thing is he will take full ownership and responsibility for what he say he will do and the outcomes.
One of the best contibutions a coach can ever give is help by elevating the coachee to reach his own ‘Aha!’ moment for himself. And in order to do that, the coach has to build rapport and establish trust and intimacy, listen actively, and ask powerful questions along the way.
Personally, I think that giving advice hasn’t work well before and it is going to be less effective with the younger generation leaders. Have you ever wonder why the Gen-Y young people these days are “rebellious” and have a mind of their own? Perhaps I will write on this another time – this deserves a whole article by itself.
2 Coaching Questions For You
1) How aware are you of yourself giving advice or telling someone what to do? How often? How much? How early?
2) Having read this article, what can you do better to help the person without getting in his/her way?