In the previous post we explored 10 “habits” of ineffective life coaches; in this post we’ll explore 10 more toxic life coaching behaviors. If you recognize yourself in any of these, remember: Awareness is Power! Once you know you are “guilty” of one of these ineffective behaviors, you can take action to correct that behavior.
Let’s jump into it!
10 More Ineffective Toxic Life Coaching Behaviors
11. You are jumping in with solutions well before the client is ready and force that solution on the client. Our number one goal is to ask Empowering Questions to help client come up with their own solution; when they fail to come up with their own answers, you can ask for permission to suggest some solutions, but it’s up to the client if they want to explore any of your suggestions or not. (Explore possible reasons why the client might feel stuck; perhaps not yet ready to move to the “solutions” stage.)
12. Pushing the client into taking action way too early; and way before the client is ready for action. It is crucial that both you and the client first fully understand the client’s goal(s) and WHY she wants that goal; or understand the client’s frustration and HOW she wants to make changes to eliminate that frustration. Just like seasons in nature, where you can’t force spring in winter, the same applies in coaching – do NOT push the client to take action before she fully “thaws out” and is ready for action.
13. Accepting a client’s unrealistic goal(s).
I need your help to become a professional singer and make $1Million in the next 6 months. Some clients will approach us with goals that will seem “way out there,” and while we shouldn’t discount those goals instantly, be careful not to accept a client whose goal is obviously 100% unrealistic. “I want to climb Mt. Everest in 90-days and I need a coach to hold me accountable.” If this is a fit 30 year old person with experience of climbing other peaks, go for it! But if this is a 65 year-old person who’s never climbed a mountain in their life, and are out of shape… you are not only setting both of you up for failure, but your client might even lose their life.
* While the above example is extreme (client could die), some clients will have less dramatic unrealistic goal, and you have to be careful Not to accept that client – or at least do not accept the client with their original grand goal – as this WILL lead to the client becoming hostile when in a few months into the coaching relationship it becomes clear that she will not achieve that grand goal.
Examples of unrealistic goals: become a paid speaker and make $250,000 in the 1st year (from a client who’s never spoken in public, has not platform, no book published, etc.); become a best-selling author (from someone who’s not published anything in the past and has no marketing or publicity background); Run a marathon in the next 90 days (someone who is out of shape and has not exercised in years). You could still accept these clients, IF they are willing to first work on an intermediate goal, such as “Let’s help you prepare your first speech and give it to a group of at least 25 people; then we can work towards getting your first paid gig; then we can talk about where you want to go from there. Sometimes we have to help our (potential) clients “get down to earth” and start with more realistic goals…!
14. Holding the client back, based on your levels of comfort.
We are all different, and some of your clients will want to go paragliding off the top of the Grand Canyon or will want to do bare-knuckle cage fights; whatever that may be, you have to realize that your job is to help them become the best version of themselves they can be, based on their values, goals, and comfort level. Yes, ask them about risks, but keep the tone of your voice non-judgmental.
* The examples above are a bit extreme, and if you don’t feel comfortable coaching such a client, end the coaching relationship – let them know that you are not the right coach for them. Most clients, however, will not have such extreme goals, but might have goals that are outside of your comfort zone. Remember to Not judge and support the client based on their beliefs, values, and comfort zone.
15. You assume you understand the client’s issue way too early and jump in with follow-up questions – or even worse, with solutions – before you really understand the whole issue at hand. An effective life coach will listen deeply till she fully understands the full picture the client is trying express. Paraphrase what you heard and what you understand and “feed it back” to the client to see if you have a good understanding of what the was shared so far. Do the same when they commit to an action or series of actions – “Let’s review! Based on what I hear, you commit to do xyz and abc – is that what you’ll commit to?”
16. Talking down to the client, making them feel inferior.
Some coaches – in an attempt to seem “more professional” (and to overcome their insecurities and imposter syndrome) – talk to the client as if they had all the answers. Be careful to keep the relationship “equal.” You are there to coach the client, not to make them feel incompetent or unable to think for themselves.
17. Openly criticizing the client or client’s actions.
People hire coaches for their support AND for their non-judgmental and accepting listening and feedback. Make sure NOT to project, or force, your values or beliefs on your client.
18. Get lost in “motivational speeches” or stories; or oversharing personal experiences. Remember, the client pays for your time to coach them, and not to make long speeches or to share long personal (or other) stories.
19. Using way too many superlatives in your language.
“I guarantee that if you do this, you’ll see results!” This is the utmost best that you can do to… “You will undoubtedly achieve this, if…” While superlatives can motivate the client, if they don’t get the results they expected – and that you so fiercely promised – they’ll feel like a failure and (potentially) resent you for getting their hopes up. If this happens repeatedly, it’ll definitely have a negative effect on your relationship with this client.
20. Blatantly contradicting the client.
During the coaching session you might hear the client say things that you know it’s completely wrong; however, blatantly contradicting the client can generate tension and stall the flow of the session; and for some, it’ll generate resentment and animosity. Remember that (a) very few things in life are Black or White – what you might see as completely false, could be just a different viewpoint… and (b) even if you know you are right (such as feeding a child once a day is absolutely wrong), instead of directly contradicting or criticizing the client’s viewpoint, direct the conversation through empowering questions, and lead client to see the fallacy of their thought process (just like you learned during your life coaching training)
E.G. Sebastian is the author of Communication Skills Magic and co-author of Back Off – Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying. Connect with E.G. on LinkedIn and join his LinkedIn or Private FaceBook group to discuss this and other business development topics. Explore more Marketing Tutorials at our Online Training Academy – Click Here!