Untangle and grow

A blog by Alison Maxwell

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Be more like me - issues in coaching

I often have a tricky time explaining to novice coaches that advice giving, especially on a personal matter, is, by and large, a perilous activity. "But, I' ve been through something similar - surely they would benefit from my advice!" they say to me. Well yes and no.

The point is that we are not the same, and while our experiences may be similar, they are rarely directly equivalent. What works for one person in one situation may very well not be helpful for another person in another situation. Blindly copying another's actions robs us of our resourcefulness and keeps us from trusting ourselves fully.

However, my reservations about advice giving goes beyond this . So often for me the hidden message in advice is "Be like me". I heard someone tell a colleague recently to "be more confident" - unspecific advice at the best of times but also loaded with a judgement about the relative superiority of the speaker.- "Just be like me and you'll be fine" was the implied message. Surely our job as coaches is to help people be fully themselves, rather than poor copies of other people?

As Oscar Wilde so aptly put it "Be yourself, everyone else is taken !"

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