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Expert Coaching and Counseling Tip

By Colleen-Joy Page

Coaching and counseling tools are not only invaluable for coaches and counsellors, but are tools we ALL can greatly benefit from when used in our relationships, parenting, business and in ANY life setting that asks for effective communication and relationship building.

Isn't life coaching different to counseling? Yes, very different, though some combine the two.

  • Coaching is not therapy; it focuses on a proactive establishing and supporting of the client, specifically in the clarifying and meeting of their life goals through action.
  • Counseling focuses on therapeutically supporting the client's emotional and psychological wellbeing by looking at the past and the present.

I'd like to share an easy to use, expert tip that is used by top life coaches and professional counselors. In fact it's like the cardinal rule of coaching and counseling. So use this tip in all areas of your life and watch it work its magic.

When someone is sharing or talking to you about themselves and their life, and especially if they are telling you about their problems - the cardinal rule is DON'T GIVE ADVICE.

Advice has its place but we generally tend to dive in too quickly with advice and as a result we don't really listen. Often the person we are listening to will benefit much, much more, by just being heard. A skilled coach or counselor never jumps in with advice because experience shows that this is the worst thing you can do in service to another person.

If this sounds too simple, try it! It's much harder than it looks to listen to someone talking about their problems and NOT give advice. See if you can even last 5 minutes of attentive listening without offering ideas or solutions or saying "have you tried..." or "why don't you ..."

The hard part about not giving advice is usually that we don't know what to fill the conversation with. We are driven by a need to help the person and assume that the best help is advice. But the secret that coaches and good counselors know is that by giving advice we disempower, make early false assumptions, and don't really LISTEN.

Think back to when last you were sharing with someone about your challenges. What does it feel like when the person jumps in with advice instead of listening with sincere interest to you and what you have to say?

Skilled communicators in all forms use the following tools INSTEAD of giving advice...

  • Silence - don't be too quick to try fill a silence. Just being there and being comfortable in punctuated silence can be a powerful tool.
  • Reflective listening - Reflect back to a person what they have told you - both to demonstrate that you have heard them and to clarify that you have truly understood (learning to do this skillfully without sounding mechanical takes practice).
  • Questions - Coaches are trained to ask powerful questions to support their clients to clarity, realizations and progress. Use questions to guide a person deeper and to help them to help themselves.

Support others in being all that they were born to be by learning to BE there for others.

If this teaching resonates with you and speaks to your truth... then you can also practice these exercises:

  1. For a week, everyday consciously and in every conversation notice when your desire to give advice arises and hold yourself back. Observe what happens to your conversations in all settings in your life when you hold back the advice for as long as possible to become a more powerful listener.
  2. We need to listen to OURSELVES as much as we need to learn to listen to others. Spend time also listening to your inner dialogue and use the same principles to communicate more powerfully with yourself - don't jump in with advice - really listen!
Copyright © Colleen-Joy Page 2007
From the office of Colleen-Joy Page. Want to learn from us with tutor supported distance learning? We have an exciting new program called Intuition for Life that comprises my 6 core courses (intuition, wholeness, relationships, family healing, life purpose and business building). Call my Academy on +27 11 708-0000 or email me to request more information.
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