Why getting advice from a coach will set you up for failure.

Let’s have a look at the effects of advice sharing in a coaching relationship.

If your coach is giving you advice or pushing you towards a certain path, he isn’t coaching you. He does something else. Even if it sounds like that’s the way it should be. Even if you expressed a desire towards that path previously. He offers a different service, masked up by the unregulated, yet flourishing field of Coaching. The practice of Coaching is not about giving advice or offering solutions. But before we see what coaching is actually about, let’s see how giving and consuming advices might disrupt the client’s journey towards growth and alter the purpose of a coaching intervention. 

When thinking about the effects of advice giving in coaching, the entities to consider are three: the coach, the client, and the coaching relationship. The way we communicate relates directly to the kind of relationships we create. Consequently, sharing advice might affect directly the coaching relationship.

Giving advice forms an other than equal and collaborative relationship. It places the advice giver into an authoritative role and eventually, the advice consumer into an obedient, if not disengaging, role.

That alone would be enough to hint the beginning of a new construct: a relationship built on principles that are far from coaching. These principles often refer to the relationship between a doctor and a patient or a teacher and a student. Within that environment, advices can be beneficial and have a different kind of impact.

  • In coaching though, the advice is distancing the client from his own intrinsic motivators.
  • It hinders the coaching process by preventing the client from ownership and commitment to change.
  • It can significantly reduce the autonomous learning process for the client.
  • It may lead to dependent behaviour patterns.
  • It restricts the client from utilizing his own creativity and resourcefulness.

Truth is, as right as a coach and his advice may sound, clients know what’s good for them better than anyone else. When a coach decides to overlook the coaching principles and give advice, it is like admitting his clients’ inability to come to a better solution on their own. Julia Yates have said it better when writing about offering suggestions during the sessions. She says that the clients’ suggestions will probably be better than the coaches’. Theirs will take into account the whole story, the background, the emotions, the personalities, the history of their relationships and all manner of details that a coach don’t know about. And honestly, all these don’t become apparent within a few hours of listening.

Coaching is about creating a safe space of understanding, trust and acceptance that allows the clients to think their way through and create their own solutions. It is about a non-directive, equal relationship. The intrinsic motivators, the commitment to change, the autonomous learning, the clients’ own creativity and resourcefulness are all points that shouldn’t be missing from the coaching process. Read more about coaching and learn how you can benefit from it here.

So, if you are getting advice from your coach, it’s time to consider talking about it openly during your sessions and evaluate your options before your collaboration is set up for failure. Reflect on your take-aways and the impact they have to your life. Remember that just like every case, yours is unique. An advice is nothing but an opinion. If a piece of advice is what fits your case best, then it’s perfectly okay to look for it in other professions.

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