The Coaching Relationship

So you’ve found your coach. THE coach. The one you thought might fit your needs and your budget. You have good rapport and you feel that things are going well. During your discovery session, you set great, big goals you'll work toward with your coach's help. Then you enter a contract and you're off.

But nothing in life is perfect. What happens if the coaching relationship isn't working? When things go awry, it’s easy to become disillusioned.

Don't lose heart.

Before you throw in the towel and chalk up coaching as a waste of your time, here are a few things to consider:

• What’s really happening?

Explore and inquire. An open line of communication is essential to the coaching relationship. Trust, authenticity, and openness are the foundation of great coaching.

• Communication

If there is something bothering you, something not going quite the way you’d expected, set up some time to discuss it. Again, maintaining an open line of communication throughout the process is a key element to the success of the relationship.

Bring everything out into the open. It’s only fair that you each have an opportunity to discuss what may be going on. Very often, it will be something that had not even crossed your mind or even nothing at all. Remember, everyone has lives and issues they may be facing and coaches are no exception. Bring it out into the open so that everyone is on the same page.

• Review the Agreement

The foundation of every great coach/client relationship starts with having a powerful coaching agreement set from the beginning. An agreement outlines expectations for the relationship and helps clarify what you want out of the experience. Your stumbling block could be a simple misunderstanding or different interpretations of what that initial agreement was.

Coaching is supposed to be inspiring and fun; I'm not advising against flexibility or spontaneity. But make sure you are clear on your agreement.

• Be willing to Decide.

If you feel that your needs and expectations are not being met as originally agreed upon, have an honest conversation. Be clear in your convictions. Review your contractual obligations as well as your coach's to be sure that no one is breaching contract. Very rarely, if ever, will a coach make unreasonable demands on their client when they do not feel they are being served.

• Check Yourself.

Be realistic with yourself. I've seen plenty of instances where a client may not feel supported but refuses to explore their own process. Accountability, between-session work, or any other assignments are an important part of coaching, and you've got to put in the work.

Remember, the only reason a coach would try to hold you accountable for your actions are for your own good. That's the point of the relationship, after all.

Coaches are in this to serve, generally, and you not meeting them in the middle can make it difficult for them to coach you effectively. Be willing to accept the fact that coaching is very rewarding when the client is progressing, not falling behind. Having said that, consider that coaches too want to know that their clients are being respectful of their time, their assignments and their investment in you as a client.

I hope this helps you understand your part in a coaching relationship. In essence: don't be afraid to speak up if you're uncomfortable or unsatisfied. As coaches, we're here to serve you and improve your life, and we want you to grow from the relationship. If you feel like you're still stuck or not improving, let your coach know and we'll help change the course.

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