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Why coaching is so difficult (and why hardly anyone is good at it)

Good coaching requires patience. Most managers think they know how to coach for performance or development, but what they are really doing is offering advice that they think sounds good but, in reality, isn’t even solving the real problem.

Did you know that, on average, we interrupt each other every 18 seconds? It’s no wonder why we often find ourselves repeating our stories, getting defensive, or speaking fast and/or loud. It’s because we feel like we aren’t being heard!

But then there are those people who “just get you.” Who are good listeners? Who make you feel valued? Who help you work things out clearly in your own mind. Those types of people are great coaches.

The good news is, anyone can become a great coach, no matter what industry you are in or occupation you have. Here are some tips to help you improve your coaching:

  • Talk less, listen more. Your advice isn’t as good as you think it is.
  • Ask better questions. Not “probing questions,” quality questions. Ones that show your curiosity, your interest. Examples: “what’s on your mind,” or “and what else?”
  • Ask one question at a time. No rapid-fire questions.
  • NEVER EVER give advice in the form of a question. Example: “have you thought of...?”
  • Be genuine. Put yourself in their shoes.
  • Listen.
  • Nod your head.
  • Listen some more.
  • Ask “and what else?”

Take a step back and refrain from trying to solve every problem. Even if you could solve the problem, your message might not be heard, or worse, you could be solving the wrong problem. Resist the temptation to jump in and offer your advice. Practice listening and asking one (quality) question at a time. You just might find yourself finally being heard, understood, and respected.