Do You Coach or Give Advice?

Andrea ChilcoteBy Andrea Chilcote

I don’t mean “Are you a coach?” – though some of you might be, in your role at work as a manager, in a sports context, or perhaps as a professional. What I’m asking is, when someone needs help, do you provide coaching – or do you advise, give feedback, solve others’ problems for them, criticize, or judge – with the intent of being helpful?

As a professional coach and also one who teaches others to do so, I give a lot of thought to what coaching is and isn’t. And I think the world needs more coaches and fewer critics; more empowerment to think on our own, and less advice.

Think of an example in your own life – as a parent, as a friend or as a leader. When presented with a situation in which someone needs help,

  • Do you ask enough questions to fully understand the situation – or do you already know what you think is going on and what they should do?
  • Do you listen objectively to understand, or do you listen with a biased ear, one that either agrees or disagrees?
  • Do you encourage them to identify strategies and solutions, or do you simply give advice?

And one final question, has anyone ever made a significant change because you told them they should?

In my work, the purpose of coaching is to affect change – create movement and shifts in people’s perceptions, viewpoints and behaviors. And I’m betting that’s the goal of the situation you just thought of. It’s all about change, subtle or substantial.

People change when the factors that create their experience change.  In order to do change a person’s experience, we have to:

  1.  Understand the current situation from their perspective.
  2. Clearly define their desired future or result.
  3. Understand what it will take to get to the result.

The process I described takes time and patience. It takes dialogue. And it requires a mindset of objectivity (a willingness to suspend our own biases), and positive intent.

In my experience, it works with teenagers, significant others, friends and team members. Here’s a simple version:

  • First ask:  “What’s going on? What’s causing this situation? What’s the impact?”
  • Then ask:  “What do you want? And (important!) – What will having that do for you?”
  • Finally, ask: “What will it take to get to the result? What are you willing to commit to?”

Do you want to help another change? Try empowering him/her to help their self.


This post appeared originally on The Spirited Woman where Andrea is a blogger. Enjoy it!

Connections (2014)

Connections, Andrea Chilcote, Kairos ChilcoteBy Andrea Chilcote

Do you ever find yourself trying to explain what you do at work each day after being met with a blank stare when you share your role or title? What is it that you really do?

Here’s what I really do. I help people build relationships – all kinds of relationships. The common denominator that defines my work is the connections we have or seek: with ourselves, with other people, with the natural world, and with the minute-by-minute opportunities afforded us by the grand existence called being a human.

Connection is a primal need. That’s why there’s so much distress in organizations when personal agendas and misplaced hierarchical boundaries trump inclusion and collaboration. It’s why, in one-on-one relationships, we seek to be heard and understood first and foremost. The basis of trust is the feeling that one is safe with the other — and trust is required for engagement of any kind. Perhaps most important is a connection with ourselves; an eyes-wide-open type of awareness that stems from honest self-examination. This leads to two things: a state of being called “settled in self” as well as on-purpose action.

Many of my posts build upon the relationship we have with ourselves, with key others, and our animal companions. And, that oh-so-important relationship we have with time – the moment at hand, as that is where the magic begins.

As you relate to my posts, I invite you to begin a dialogue. Share your own stories and reflections to spread the connections among all of us. I’ll start by posing a question: What is it that you do?