6 times it’s a bad idea to try coaching

One day in the office a colleague of mine, lets call her Christine, got some bad news about a project she was working on. I could see she was upset so I took her out to the stairwell away from prying eyes and attempted to help with my shiny new coaching skills. Through her tears she told to stop being a coach, she just wanted a friend to tell her what to do! I learnt a valuable lesson that day, coaching is not the answer in every situation.

Ha! – one of the things I love about writing these letters to you every week is the insight I get. It has just occurred to me that the simple coaching cycle would have been perfect here, not that I’d thought of it yet. It is coaching and it doesn’t feel like coaching.

By listening to her and asking her to tell me more I would have been helping her to exercise her Chimp (express emotion). And by summarising what she was saying back to her she would have heard it differently. Chances are she might have been able to go back to thinking for herself or at the very least I would have heard that this was not the time for coaching questions, it was the time to tell her what to do to handle the emergency she was in.

Here are 5 more times when it’s not a good idea to try to coach:

  1. You want something done in a specific way – you’re just going to annoy people by using coaching as a disguise
  2. You’re in a rush or distracted – if you can’t listen with your full attention, the other person can not think well
  3. In an emergency – you don’t coach people how to leave a burning building, you calmly and loudly direct people how to get out
  4. You have an opinion about what the other person should do – never disguise opinions with coaching
  5. It’s someone close to you – simple coaching techniques, yes, full on coaching questions, NO!

I really believe having some simple coaching skills benefits everyone and I’m curious to know what gets in the way of you trying coaching or if you are coaching, where do you get stuck?

Hit reply and let me know. You’ll get a reply and I’ll talk about it in the next letter.

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