To Give or Not To Give... (Advice, That Is)

By Brian Underhill, PhD, CEO, CoachSource

I will never coach in front of a live audience again.

Over a decade ago in Vancouver, I was asked to conduct a “coaching fishbowl” for a large business coaching conference.  A local owner of a family manufacturing business was brought in.  After only a few minutes together, we were thrust on stage where I would now coach him in front of hundreds.

Having worked with Marshall Goldsmith for a few years at this point, I relied (best I could) on my training and experience.  After getting a quick lay of the land of the challenges he faced in his business, I helped him narrow down to a leadership growth objective (to micromanage less).  I then assisted him in generating an action plan to accomplish this objective.  He supplied a variety of ideas on what he could do to improve.  After he ran out of ideas, I then suggested a few as well.  The clock was ticking, but he had a pretty formidable action plan in just a short 20 minutes.

Ding!  Time’s up.  "Job well done,” I thought…especially with such little time, and NO assessments to work with.  I gave myself a pat on the back; A pat that was quickly cut short. 

“That was not coaching, THAT was consulting!!” screamed a man who might as well have been standing atop his chair.  “I’ve been in this field for 15 years, and THAT was CONSULTING!!!”

“I run the largest coaching school in [blah blah country]” said a lady in the first row.  "We would never call that coaching!”

Another agreed: “I can’t believe you gave him ADVICE.  I would NEVER give my clients advice!”  I felt 2 feet tall.  At least I was sitting in a chair, so no one noticed.

Soon enough - and to my slight relief - others began to retort in my defense.  “That was exactly how I would coach,” said one.  “Of course I give advice,” commented another.  “Executives expect you to have something to say,” agreed a third coach. And with that, an all-out war erupted right there before my eyes.  

While the poor facilitator had to negotiate the warring factions, I honestly just wanted to pack my things and disappear - perhaps walk all the way back to California if I had to.

On Advice Giving

You see, I committed an unforgivable sin in the eyes of some - I committed the “A” word.  I gave advice to this leader during a coaching session.

In our beautifully emerging profession of coaching, the giving of advice is a hotly-contested debate (along with certification, which I’ll save for another blog when it’s a slow news day!).  Is it acceptable to give advice in coaching?  And if you were to give advice, are you actually coaching - or maybe instead you are consulting, mentoring or something else?

In one corner, the International Coach Federation and many training organizations offer a very clear opinion on this - coaching is not about advice giving.  In fact, the ICF certification examination docks significant points for any coach caught giving advice during an audited session.  The idea is that the answers lie within the leader, and the coach’s job is to bring those answers to light.  Marcia Reynolds, the fifth president of the ICF (and CoachSource coach), says “People are far more likely to commit to behavior made through self-discovery. Unless someone is totally eager to try out your advice, a [leader’s] strong ego may work backward to justify their previous behavior.”

On the other hand, many executive coaches are well known to offer advice during sessions.  Marshall Goldsmith once said, “If you have some advice to give, then give it!  Don’t sit around asking a series of bozo questions trying to get the executive to guess what you have been thinking about all along!”  In fact, one of our busiest coaches, Craig May of Texas, says “I'm a former business executive.  My clients choose me as their coach because of my ‘been there / done that’ business and leadership experience…I just don't think that a coach is coaching unless they are telling, instructing, showing, demonstrating…giving advice.”

The argument in favor of advice-giving is that executive coaches often have considerable business experience of their own, and have coached hundreds of leaders with similar issues - therefore, they would have something to offer to help the leader improve.  One Fortune 500 VP, Leadership Development once told me, “If the leader knew how they could change a key behavior, they would just do it!"

The Great Hat Swap

Along the way of screening over 1,000 executive coaches, I will often ask a coach their opinion on giving advice.  In fact, I now call their answer "The Great Hat Swap".  Why?  Here is a very typical interview question I ask:

Me: Do you ever give advice when you are coaching?

Coach:  Well, what I do is I tell my client, "Right now I am wearing my coaching hat."  I then ask them: “Do you mind if I offer you some advice right now?"  When they say, “No, I don’t mind" I then tell them, "Ok right now I am putting on my consulting hat” and then I offer the advice.  After I have given my advice, I then tell them I am putting my coaching hat back on.

Me [Writing privately in the coach’s file]: “Does the hat swap thing.” 

So coaches WILL give advice, but perhaps only after asking permission.  (By the way, how many clients ever say, “Yes, I do mind.  I don’t want any advice right now!  Keep that coaching hat on!”)  And to boot, nearly every time I ask any ICF-certified coach (including MCCs) whether they ever give advice, they will always secretly admit that they do when coaching - in other words, they admit they do one thing to pass the ICF requirements, yet in actual practice they do things differently.

It’s ALL Good

But perhaps it is ALL good?  Let’s go back to the definition of executive coaching, in my never-to-be-humble opinion, from our book Executive Coaching for Results: “Executive coaching is the one-to-one development of an organizational leader.”  In our definition, we are focusing on the development of an organizational leader - and whether the giving (or lack thereof) of advice facilitates that development, then any approach is acceptable.  

In 2003, industry researcher Tony Grant defined coaching as a “Goal-directed, results-oriented, systematic process in which one person facilitates sustained change in another individual or group through fostering the self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee encompassing attributes along a continuum.”  This continuum includes directive and non-directive approaches, and whether or not the participant is leading the agenda, or the coach is.

So, instead of grasping at straws, maybe we need to recognize that all approaches can be valid - and it is up to the skill of the coach to determine how and where each approach might be employed.

At times, great shifts can be made by effective questioning.  “When you make a reflective statement and ask a powerful question that makes people stop and question their own thinking,” says Marcia Reynolds, “the automatic processing stops and the brain quickly rewires to make sense of the new awareness.”

But at times, just the right advice at the right time can greatly change the trajectory of someone’s life.  I’m sure you can recount multiple times when this has happened to you – as I can.

I’m still never coaching in front of a room again (I’m only halfway through my walk from Vancouver to San Jose)!  But at least I can be assured that it’s ALL good.

What do you think?  Enter your comments in below.



Brian, I was in that audience ten years ago. You opened up a debate about which you're still writing. Regardless of the pros or cons of the issue, you started a meaningful dialogue with the audience. The benefit is both valuable and timeless. If you choose to call that a failure, then I advise you to keep failing like this. The audience loved you!

Great topic, Brian.  I believe executive coaches have tons to offer from their own leadership experiences that may be helpful to clients.  The trick is HOW to provide the advice.  When the client runs out of possible solutions, I believe the coach should offer advice but without attachment ... i.e. they should be offered as solutions that have worked for others, and then allow the client to decide whether those solutions are workable for him/her.  No pressure, no attachment, just ideas to consider.

I believe that the coach's job is to help the client.  That means being aware of what someone needs at any given time.  Most often, asking good questions is the best way to help someone think things through for themselves. That's my preferredapproach.  But I agree with Marshall Goldsmith that if you have some advice to share, you should do so without apology.  I find that some clients are very open to it, and others are less so.  So I adjust my approach to them.  And if I feel that a client is sitting back and waiting to hear MY ideas on how to address something rather than doing the work forhim/herself, I immediately go back into question mode. When you're dealing with human beings, I think it's hard to draw firm lines, and each conversation is a little different.So I say--listen to the client and respond to what they need in that situation.  

I appreciate your candor in describing the difficult situation you found youself in.It seems like a human blindspot to categorize the highly complex coaching situation as either/or: advise/no advise.I found your insight about seeing advise giving on a continuum as very useful.I have given advise at times. And before I give that advise I try to ask myself what am I feeling about my client at that moment? Am I feeling frustrated because I feel pressure that I have to achieve results for the client's sake or my sponsor's sake? In other words I try to take a couple of seconds to reflect before I open my mouth and give that advise. These reflective few seconds helps me reframe my desire to advise. It also prevents me from making advise giving a knee jerk reaction to my own unexamined needs for quick results.

Interesting column, Brian. Certainly one of the fundamental questions a coach needs to keep challenging him or herself about... By and large, we need to discipline ourselves about keeping our mouth shut when the client is thinking something through.What about this... when coaching clients are just beginning to think about how they are going to do a new initiative, and there's a short exchange that bounces back and forth, with ideas being brainstormed by both parties? Then there will be silence while the client reflects, during which the coach needs to hold off, since the client is weighing options. Whatever gets said next is going to be important, useful... and his or her play. I also wonder if a coach intervening goes through cycles from one session to the next. What our client needs from us in one session in this regard may be quite different in the next.Best regards from rainy Paris, James Dillon  

Nice reflection, Brian. It reminded me how easy it is to turn powerful experiences from one situation into dogma preserved by a self-anointed priesthood. Definitions of coaching that specify the "how" are always going to be limited by the reality that technique and method can be twisted for manipulative purposes. They are useful for teaching beginners and providing guidance, but really helpful definitions will always be framed in terms of the outcomes needed. What does it take for one person to create an environment that stimulates another to deeper and broader thought, to ownership of the initiative needed for change, and to self-driven action? That's what we are after and it will use the full continuum of human communications, always guided by a genuine concern for the other person(s) and a deep conviction of their capability for self-development. And its usefulness will always be measured by the value given to it by the person being coached.

I'm not standing on my chair, but I do agree it's ALL GOOD. For me the question, is not whether to give advice, bur more arouund the context and when it is useful versus counterproductive. In your fishbowl you described adding to your clients ideas in a brainstorming way and then helping him choose what action he was going to take. I personally don't see that as consulting but rather collaborating with your clietnt, If yoiu were to say, "I've seen this problem hundreds of times and here is what you have to do...", that would be consulting. I a great cooaching conversation you ahve two people engaged. The coach can share ideas. The client chooses what actions they are going to take, regardless of the source of the ideas.It's all good!

Thank you Brian for this common sense article.  I love your balance!  When I interview to hire coaches for leaders in my company, I often ask for a 30-minute trial coaching session for myself.  I bring a real issue and I am watching to see what balance they use in their coaching approach.  I expect lots of questions, and at least SOME advice or insights coming from the coach.  Most of us err in one direction or the other - the key for a good coach is to know and be working on your own developmental edge.

Great anecdote on how well your session with the client went and what you heard from some audience members. I've had a similar experience and fortunately I can look back at it and chuckle rather than cringe. I've also written an article about giving advice (although I expanded it to include mentoring and peer assistance in addition to coaching). Here's the link to what I wrote:


Brian, I laughed out loud at your story.  Been there, done that.  As a mentor coach/assessor in the ICF world, I have certainly called out advice giving when I see it.            AND... I totally agree with your BOTH/AND perspective, and here is some additional framing I give it:          Coaching is coaching.  If you are giving advice, you are not coaching.  if you are teaching, mentoring, or in any way holding yourself as the "expert" in that client's world, you are not coaching, because coaching is about honoring what/who the client already is (whole, creative, and resourceful, etc).            That said, let's recognize that in a coaching RELATIONSHIP, there may be moments when when shifting the conversation from coaching to teaching, training, mentoring, or consulting is truly in service of the client's goals.  Sometimes the client truly will benefit from learning a new distinction, a different approach, or about a resource that is simply not anywhere on their radar.            To me, the difference between a good coach and a person who is using the term without training/understanding is this:  The unskilled "coach" (intentional use of quote marks) plows ahead, believing they know best what the client needs, and often oblivious to the distinction between these different types of conversation -- they truly think consulting or training is coaching, that it's all one and the same.              The skilled coach, on the other hand, understands in that moment that what they are about to offer is NOT coaching, so they make that transparent to the client, by asking permission and/or by doing the hat swap thing.  I use a metaphor of different coaching tools.  There's a hammer, a screwdriver, a wrench, etc.  Allowing ONLY coaching in a coaching relationship would be, to me, like only ever using a hammer.  (you know the metaphor....).  Yet this is alsowhy the ICF insists that you demonstrate COACHING in your competency assessment -- because you have to be able to prove you know how to use that hammer well, and as it's intended to be used.           Thus, I'd assess your coaching competency in an on-stage situation by this filter: If you asked permission, or in any way signaled to your client, "In this COACHING conversation, I'm about to use a different tool than coaching to help you move forward," then I as an observer can tell you know the difference.            In some groups, this can be a divisive issue; I know I've been in some lively arguments!  I've also been in your place, on stage, with the "purists" in the audience.  I believe there is space for BOTH points of view to be correct.            Thanks for a fun post!   

I understand the limitations of advice giving, but I do provide either advice or suggestions much of the time. It is typically after doing a lot of listening to understand how my client is thinking and what they are struggling with. As Brian described, it is after asking whether they want to hear another perspective. Without some new perspective, information, or offer of a challenge many clients would find coaching too slow of a process or maybe not useful enough. Often, they talk for a while and then say: what do you think? what do you make of this or have you seen this before? Is this typical? Got any ideas? Given their experience and knowledge, I trust them not to fall for anything without owning it first. 

While a basic technique of Coaching is asking powerful questions and listening deeply together for the answers, Coaches apply different interventions. But a technique shouldn’t become a rule.One principle is: What is needed to further the client’s objective and enable forward movement?  Another principle—one that especially distinguished coaching from consulting—is that the client and the client’s story remains the point of reference.  Consultants ghostwrite that story; coaches catalyze the client writing his or her own story.Some things we do as coaches to help the client in writing a new story in addition to asking questions:·       Endorse  We endorse our clients’ concepts, ideas, and insights to empower and reinforce behavior.·       Mirror  We help their clients see themselves more clearly.·       Summarize  Summaries validate and integrate information, providing a model to internalize.·       Reframe 
A reframe offers a new perspective by changing the original viewpoint and context. 
·       Brainstorm 
We have a wealth of experience and ideas that can further discussions of everything from business and marketing to people skills. 
·       Offer ideas and insights 
Mentor Coaching may include aspects of emotional and social intelligence, including executive presence.
·       Advise  Some forward movement can be a simple suggestion based on the Coach’s experience, or the client’s blind spot or unconscious bias.·       Storybust  Question or challenge automatic, habitual behavior, or limiting assumptions, especially when there is evidence they don’t work. Often these limiting beliefs are outside conscious awareness.·       Give information  The client may need guidance toward resources and information.·       Train and redirect  For example, give a model of how to handle conflict, including communication skills.·       Regulate states of mind  This powerful strategy, especially for executives, can significantly enhance performance David Krueger MDExecutive Mentor

Great topic.  I cringe when I hear people only giving advice and calling it coaching.  It's such an overused word in the world now so I think it's important that as Executive Coaches we keep distinguishing the differences with those in and out of the coaching industry.  One thing that I will add is to the point of knowing when to use each skill.  I totally agree with that.  I also think it's really important that we also factor in our client's habits and the way they learn.  Totally agree with the point above from Marshall Goldsmith about not asking a ton of questions when you can offer suggestions, but sometimes that's also the defaul of the client.  They don't want to do the hard work.  So we need to gauge each situation differently.  I also remember learning from a client several years ago.  He gave me an answer to a question I asked and then said "Uh oh, that must not have been the right answer".  When I looked at him puzzled he said "I notice that whenever I say somethign that's on or right, you nod and that's my cue that I'm on the right track".  It was really great information for me to realize that I may have been coming across like I was nodding in agreement vs just indicating that I understand what he said.  It was a good cue for me to realize the impact of my nonverbal reactions as well as just whether or not I was "coaching" or "consulting" not the question.  The question is two-fold:  are you adding value; is the value you are trying to add offered in a way the client can accept and use?For me the process is not a formula but an art based on my abilities in observation, self-awareness, experience, wisdom and intuition, undefended presence, as well as methodology.  Combining all those will facilitate a number of possible dynamics:  Clients who are defensive and whom I can help first grapple with that defensiveness through reflection, understanding, acceptance and release.  Clients who are curious about and ready for information, perspective, ideas and even guidance.  Clients who are somewhere in between, struggling with lack of clarity, feeling torn between competing commitments or demands, needing a partner in exploration; a partner who will foster their own emerging awareness but also point out pitfalls they are missing as well as suggestions for seeing them and learning from them.The key is to check our own assumptions about what is working, continuously.  The client will know.  It will show in their face, their tone of voice, their body posture and what they say.  Undefended presence is the coach's capacity to hold up for reflection their own assumptions, working biases, and validity of interpretations about the client.  Doing that in the moment with clients, in the spirit of partnership and without the need to be right, models the very behavior the clients use to grow themselves.  And, in the end, answers the questions we have about whether giving advice or eliciting insight or something in between is actually what is needed at the moment.  No  dogma. No formula. Just authentic engagement.Once Mark Twain apologized at the end of a long letter, "If I had more time I would have written a shorter letter".  In that vain, if I had more time I would have crafted one that would sound less preachy, but this is my learning over the years.Thanks Brian, for sharing your long walk down the coast.  Very useful and always timely.Cliff

I am a CTI trained coach and was taught very hard core, it’s all about the questions.  And I often say it took about three years of actual coaching before I started incorporating, more consciously, my own thoughts and perspectives and on balance I believe that has been a good thing.  Although I believe me offering my clients something is a good thing, I also think that those years of rigorously asking questions really embedded that invaluable skill.  And I constantly question whether or not I should have just offered a question when I may have offered one of my own thoughts.  I know the hat thing and I have always thought it effective but corny.  At the beginning of coaching as part of the contracting process I explain that anything I offer in coaching is not right or wrong just an opportunity to offer one other perspective, that the client might consider and if they chose to align themselves with one of my suggestions, it is now theirs.  I think they get that. I am not sure the definitions of coaching offered much clarity around the central question.  Not whether or not advice giving has value, it would seem impossible to argue against that.  But for me the question is, does that advice giving provide more value than a powerful question that provides a real  insight to the coachee about an underlying assumption they have always held.   In my own experience, advice giving is a very seductive and a very slippery slope.  It is lovely to hear a client’s appreciation at the offer of something – affirmation from a bright, senior executive is pretty heady stuff – at least for me.  So I just try to be aware of not doing advice giving too much and try not to let it make me lazy and avoid the more challenging work of the short, open, curious question approach. Good article.

Hi Brian,Great inquiry.  Thank you.My commitment as a coach is that  my client be successful and win the game.   I do my best  to be able to respond with what is called for. If advice is what is called for, then I give advice.  MY ADVICE TO COACHESIS:   DO WHAT WORKS.   If a coach is very young and inexperienced,  I guess coaching by rules is ok.  Otherwise, coaching with wisdom is better.   My advice for coaches is to work hard at developing wisdom.  Work hard at bringing the biggest box of tools--knowledge, expertise, technique, experience, awareness of the rules--to every engagement.  Then, be ready to respond with what is called for.  And, having done most of my coaching in front of large groups, I have learned that  even wrong advice given from  sincere caring  will work  for (and be forgiven by) both  the individual and the group.  On the other hand, expert and accurate advice delivered from the coach's ego needs don't usually turn out so well.  There is wisdom in the old saying "people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care".  Advice offered as "try it on like a coat to see if it fits for you" seems to work better than advice offered as "the way, the truth and the light".

I enjoyed your comments about “ swapping hats “ between Coaching and Advising. My take, from an Eastern cultural trait of being pragmatic, and learning from ancient sageslike Lao Tzu/Confucius is as follows: “ I do not get paid in passing an ICF certification exam.My clients pays me to broaden his multiple horizons, especially in supportingand reinforcing his personal, professional and organizational growth.In my view and experience, offering a suggestion, with his permission,is not a mortal sin in the corporate world. Neither in mine”

Always a great debating point, Brian. A coach is supposed to help clients get to their own answers, but every customer survey says that the most-valued attribute in a coach is prior business experience. Balancing this dilemma - how much to facilitate and how much to advise - is a skill that comes with training and experience.In our team of former business leaders and in our nearly seventeen years of coaching leaders, we have found the solution to be as follows:We will ask open and closed questions and have conversations that usually lead the client to the obvious solution. BUT, if they are really not getting it, we then ask "What would happen if you tried this...?" or "Have you considered doing ....and how do you think it might work?"This more directive questioning is still coaching, in that it helps the client consider solutions that don't come naturally. However, occasionally, even that doesn't work.In those cases, we will offer solutions from our own experience, such as "When I was a CEO/CFO (or whatever) and was faced with a similar situation, this is what we did. How do you think this fits your issue and how do you think you can make it work?"By these means, we have never had to get to the point of simply giving direct advice.

I'm relatively new to the coaching profession although extensive performance related experience with workplace people issues have i guess, led me to the path that i've now embarked upon and am happy to be doing what interests me.  Even in my short coaching career, i have one client and have been completing sessions with managers as part of ongoing training towards certification.  In almost all cases so far, the coachee has expected an element of knowledge transfer from the coach during the conversation.  In fact it has been commuicated in one of these sessions that the coachee expected the coach to be bringing something to the table other than just coaching.  I to have used the switching of hats approach but in all honesty, it has never sat well with me even at this early stage of my professional development in this area.  It sometimes feels as if i'm taking a shortcut during the coaching process by offering a "leg up" when you've run out of questions to ask the client and therefore, the advice option is an easy way to kick start the misfire during the coaching conversation.  On reflection as i've read through the posts in response to Brian's entertaining ordeal, i'm wondering whether asking questions around the advice you have in your own head and challenging the coachee to discuss and test their knowledge on a subject that you know contains an avenue for solutions. The coach is then in a better position to test whether the coachee is willing to research that topic and others to find the information for themselves and set up a discussion topic around that research for the next session.To me, this would be a better way to continue to challenge the coachee to seek out and find, disseminate and reasoon for themselves what will suit without giving "direct" advice.  I would of thought that this is the value that the coachee is seeking from the coach, an experience that they can't get from any other profession. 

Thanks Brian,I agree with all that has been offerred on this great subject. I think we are cheating our clients if we can't find a way to offer advice through provocative questioning.My clients hire me to be direct with them, and they don't have time to waste.  My work is to build their capacityto solve issues themselves, so I like to find a way to offer "real-time" exercises  or solutions that they can "try out" as"anonymous" suggests above.    My executive clients expect to be stretched and expect me to have had the businessexperience to help them see solutions that they had not seen before.  Soooo-- I do sometimes have to offer advice,but do it through questions that sometimes are leading.  (Being really truthful!)  The executive coaches that I've mentored, who also have a background in business, see this as a key to support for "walking the thin line" between giving a new solution and traditional powerful questioning to help their clients gain new skills as leaders.  Those coaches without a business background, trained by good coaching schools, may see itdifferently, but I like to think they gain from my own experience as we work together.   

An intriguing but not uncommon situation for a business-experienced coach, Brian. In our work with senior leaders, we are faced with a wide range of issues, from highly personal matters to hard-nosed business questions. Our global coaching team of former CEOs resists the temptation to direct clients towards what experience tells us is ‘the right answer’. Our modus operandi, in sequential order, is: 1.     Don’t assume, as coaches, that we do know the answer – experience is useful in knowing good questions to ask, but it is not a panacea. Every situation has its nuances.2.     Use dialogue to clarify the issue for the client and coach, then discuss our way to the solution, or (even better) a choice of solutions.3.     If the client is really not ‘getting it’, guide him or her towards resolution with discussion on ‘loaded’ questions based on our own experience of business and of leading in corporations.  4.     In the last resort, suggest the possible answer by asking, for example, “What would happen if you did …..?” or “When I faced a similar issue as a business executive, I did the following… How would something like that work in your situation?” In seventeen years of coaching global leaders, I don’t think that we have ever had to go beyond this stage, which is at the boundary of coaching and consulting. In authoritarian cultures such as (if you will excuse the stereotyping) Germany and Confucian Asian countries, our clients may naturally expect more direction, but one of our coaching objectives with them is to help them think independently and ‘lead from within’. Does this last statement invite another debating point about ‘Is coaching different in Asia from Western cultures

Dear Brian, I really enjoyed what you say and how you said it. Coaching is a field needs to improve itself via feedbacks coming from coaches also. But when "it is a sin" people are afraid of talking about it. I see a a risk about ICF's apraoches sessions it is still keeping the rules when coaching first moved... people, needs and knowledge is changing... when we talk about a session for a client to support hem/her for "some result" there are so many things need to be included... knowledge, experince, wisdom, facilitation, embodyment... My experience and observation everybody gives advice. maybe not in the early time of coaching but later absolutly whether they pu consultant/mentor/trainer hat or not... I can not be more agree with what Marshall says... if there is a knowledge which can help the client ( lack of experience about to topic or lack of the knowledge can block the client) if there is a an advice which might really help it is not clever not the share it. powerful and smart q's are usefull but not always... coach should be good enough to understand clients meta programmes. coach can understand what is the good time to share... best

I will come at it from the perspective of a client. I have had about 6 coaches for different situations. I don't care whether it's called coaching or consulting, if it helps me get to success, I welcome it. I have to say that for me, what has helped most of all is not just when I come up with all of the answers. I wouldn't have hired them if I knew all the answers. I want their insight. I can only see things from my perspective. When someone can look from the outside and offer helpful advice or even just how it looks from their side of things, it can smarten me up. It can knock some sense into me at times. Sometimes they have experience or expertise that I don't, and they can offer a solution that I could never come up with because it is outside of my knowledge base. I can humble myself enough to accept anything given to me. I know their intent is to help me. That's why they coaching me. The way to learn is to realize I don't know it all, and be open to learning from another. The coaches who have given me guidance or insight in the moments I need it have been the ones that have helped me progress the most. Those are who I will go back to. I can't justify spending money on a coach who doesn't help in my progress. The others can sometimes waste my time by watching me go in circles. Not fun for either of us. It often feels like that game of "hot and cold" where you're looking for something. If they know where it is and can just point to it or say what it is or where it is, it may be a shortcut, but I'm all for shortcuts. Then I can focus on other things. 

This is an excellent conversation on a very important subject. My question is...assuming all clients are looking to make "change" happen (the number #1 client goal when working with a Coach), what is the latest thinking in neuroscience regarding how humans best assimilate new ideas, and then actually incorporate new thinking and change. Much of the hypothese and reflections above are based on "experience" and ideas from practical application, all of which have absolute merit. But, based on the accepted methodology of Coaching (as differing from Consulting or Therapy), the advantage of Coaching's "ask open-ended questions," is that it facilitates very deep reflection and thinking within the cerebral cortex of the brain, which is responsible for higher thought processes. From what I have studied in neuroscience, our brains left hemisphere is the rational half associated with logical and analytical thinking, and the role of the posterior part is to evaluate sensory information, isolating the most important pieces, and then the frontal lobe draws conclusions from this data. The brain is further divided into four lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital and temporal. These areas receive, evaluate, and associate impulses as memories, complex thinking, and feelings that seem to be almost immediate because the brain cuts out unrelated information and adapts similar information to add to our conscious or unconscious decision making process.So the "science" of how wchange is e human's most effectively make change hapen is very relevant in this discussion. My experience as both a Coach and a Consultant, is that "new thinking" is more permanent and lasting based on the client digging deep in their thinking (the purpose of questioning), and stimulating multiple areas of the brain, especially the analytical and logic areas as described above, resulting in the abilityfor the client to move forward with a new clarity and understanding than that prior. In contrast, consulting (providing insight/wisdom), has still has its merits on occassion when dealing with a unique individual as a client who is able to easily rationalize and interpret new data, and make adjustments in their perspectives and new understandings. It would be the Coaches job to determine which path/methodology will move the client from where they are, to where they want to be - most effectively. Peter Ashworth, BrightCoach.

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