An Alternative to Giving Advice

Holding a coaching conversation
Conversing about possibilities and generating insights

It is so easy to offer advice when asked for input. In many cases it feels fantastic being asked, and sometimes even when not asked, to offer a ready solution and send the other person on their way with a greater sense of how much you know and is needed. Sometimes the advice is given at the first hint of what the solution might be, not taking the time to hear the person out, because “it is so obvious” and after all “that is what they want”.

Of course, there are times when it is appropriate to offer advice, examples being: You are the subject matter expert and they specifically need your expertise that they do not possess themselves and cannot develop easily in the time available.

Hmm, that’s about it.

However, there is an alternative to advice giving that, while taking more time and effort, offers great rewards both to the provider and the seeker of guidance: having a coaching conversation.

With a coaching conversation your responsibility as the provider is to enable the growth and development of the seeker, while leaving responsibility for what action to take with the seeker. Give advice, and it is your solution, your approach, your responsibility, and there is no ownership by the seeker. By having a coaching conversation you facilitate the thought process of the seeker, open and extend their capacity to develop their own solutions, enable them to have “ah ha” moments of realisation from which they permanently own the insight and develop in them a greater sense of self-esteem. In general, the benefits to you as the provider include a rich and meaningful conversation, the knowledge that someone else has left your space with greater capacity within themselves, and most likely you have strengthened the relationship with and the loyalty of the seeker to you.

At its heart, the coaching conversation is a dialogue in which you, as the provider, listen for understanding and potential, use questions to discover and extend the seeker’s thought process, provide open, clear, balanced and honest feedback, and facilitate the conversation so it remains on track. It does require ready solutions to be parked, for you to value the seeker as someone worth your time and investment, and for you to develop your capacity to truly be with someone else instead of caught up in what you need to do next.

As someone who is often approached for career advice, I vouch for the personal benefits of shifting tack and developing capacity to have coaching conversations. I experience a much deeper connection with and richer experience of people with whom I have such conversations. I enjoy my shift of attention being from “being right” in the advice I give, and all the responsibility that goes with that, to the appreciation of the qualities and capabilities of the person I am conversing with, and recognising the genuine intent within them to perform as well as possible. It is a refreshingly different and exciting place to function from. Anyone can occupy this space.

What motivates you and strengthens your desire and capacity to perform? Of the people who have had the most profound and positive impact on your development, what were the key qualities they exhibited?

If you find yourself offering advice, what factors are you aware of that encourage this behaviour? Do you have any interest in strengthening being less advice-giving? If so, what could you do to bring about that change within yourself?

Why Coaching Excites Me

Coaching session
Coach and coachee working together

As an achievement-driven coach, I particularly enjoy seeing people tap into and manifest their potential. When they do this they act from their own personal power, in congruence with their core values and their life purpose and, in doing so, make a tremendous difference on this planet.

I dream of a world of people living at their potential. Imagine being surrounded by people who recognise their own strengths and weaknesses, are willing and able to connect with others who have complimentary capabilities and are able to work through conflict as it arises, as it must where any two people are actively engaged in creating what matters to them. While perhaps fantasy, I am inspired to contribute to this dream every day with every person I work with.

As a management consultant and trainer over the last 20 years, I have been expected to address problems, advise recommended options to fix the problem and teach new tools, skills, approaches and facts that enable a new solution to be implemented. All these methods have their place and I will continue to use them. However, I am particularly excited about the transformational impact of coaching.

For example, one of my clients wanted a job and through coaching, shifted his thinking from ‘find a job so there is money on the table’ to ‘I want to be a sensational leader’ and seeking a job that would enable that growth opportunity. Within two weeks he had found, been interviewed for and hired into a job that offered the environment he needed to step fully into his leadership goal. The role was a major stretch over past roles, and offered all the opportunities he had opened up to and chosen to grow into. We were both excited by his success and his subsequent coaching process focused on him being successful as a leader in this new role.

Unlike consulting and teaching, coaching shifts from advice-giving to eliciting the coachee’s own solutions through probing questions that assist the client engage their own thinking processes. Coaching works to the client’s own agenda, addresses what matters to and will benefit them, and enables them to gain their own insights. As coach, I facilitate the process, provide a safe environment for the coachee to explore new insights and to consider and adopt stretch goals, and then hold the coachee accountable for enacting the actions they freely chose to do. The process allows the coachee opportunity to reflect on their patterns of behaviour, habits and beliefs that may impede their authentic self-expression and opens the window of possibility, inspiring new heights that the coachee may have never considered possible. Coaching empowers because the agenda and commitments made come from the coachee, and the coachee is entirely responsible for implementation.

The process of participating in turning on the light of insight, engaging the self-belief muscle and observing the magnificence of the individual being expressed is a phenomenal and humbling experience. These experiences, one person and one moment at a time, creates a society of people living life to their full potential and that is what excites me about coaching.

Do you aspire to creating greater things with your life? Do you dismiss the possibility of greatness, holding belief systems that suggest failure before you start? Do you know what your life purpose is? Do you know how to make your life meaningful to yourself? Have you got ideas to express and lack the forum and safety to explore them? Do you want something better for yourself and for those you love? Would you appreciate the unbiased, objective support of a neutral outsider to facilitate your process of realising your dreams and ambitions? Would you like a positive hand extended that comes with authentic feedback on what you are doing well on? If there is a yes for any of these questions, coaching may be for you. I would love to see you and work with you on creating what really matters to you, even if you do not know what that is at this point.

For more information, check out Coaching