When people in your life hear that you are training to be a coach, often they are curious and want to reap the benefits when their own problems arise. “Can you coach me,” they may ask, “Please??”
This has certainly happened to me a lot in my more than 20 years as a coach, and I hear the same from students. And just as common is the phenomenon that after a while, “Please coach me,” turns into, “Stop coaching me!”
Bringing a coaching mindset into your personal relationships is good, but there’s a difference between having a coaching mindset and actually coaching the people in your personal life.
A coaching mindset is how you see things, how you see people, while coaching is actively drawing something out of them. My family likes that I listen like a coach, but they don’t like when I try to move them forward. “Just be Val,’ they say, “Don’t try to be Val the coach.”
Let’s look at a few other distinctions that will help:
- Enrollment versus choice. Your clients choose to be coached, while your family and friends might be automatically enrolled because you possess that coaching mindset.
- Clark Kent versus Superman – It’s like you need to turn off your coaching superpower when you transition from work mode to personal mode or turn off that part of your brain. This is especially important as you progress as a coach when those skills become as natural as breathing.
- Knowing the answers versus knowing how to move people forward – Coaches don’t have all the answers, but we learn how to develop people and encourage them to move forward. Your family and friends may not be ready to take action at this time. They may just want to talk, and for you to listen. And other times they might not want to talk at all.
Seeing everyone in your life as a possible coaching client is one of the most common hazards of coaching. When that happens, you’re no longer fully in that relationship in the same way. When you start being a coach, you stop being the same spouse, daughter, son, friend, or parent.
In coaching, we’re told to hold back and let the client do most of the talking. When we do talk, we’re concise, and we offer way more questions than answers. People in your personal life may be looking for you to tell them how you feel, what you think, and even what you think they should do. This can feel very unnatural as a coach (and it’s not always the healthiest response in a personal relationship, either).
With more people working from home than ever before, we all need to find ways to transition from work mode into personal mode. Microsoft has even built a virtual commute into Teams, to “help create boundaries and structure that physical commutes once provided.” For us coaches, that’s about taking off the coach hat and leaving it in our workspace, ready for our next coaching conversation with a client.