No Image Available

TrainingZone

Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Opinion: What are your clients teaching you?

default-16x9

LearnTt's uncanny that the challenges facing your coaching clients are often the very ones that you also hope to surmount, says Olivia Stefanino, who thinks coaches can learn much from their clients.







One of the characteristics that sets great coaches apart from their more average colleagues is an attitude of open-mindedness, curiosity and a willingness for self-examination. And one the quickest places to discover more about you, your attitudes and your hidden strategies is to look at the kind of clients you tend to attract.

While you might be forgiven for thinking that you're there to help your clients, there's always some kind of 'energy exchange' (beyond money), that can offer you some rich insights into what's going on in your own life.

Of course, it goes without saying that when you're working with a client, it's only right and proper that you focus all of your time, energy and attention on him or her.

Photo of Olivia Stefanino"Learning from other people's behaviours and experiences is deeply empowering. Not only does it accelerate you on your own path – but it puts you firmly in charge of your destiny."

However, after the session, you're bound to find yourself mulling over the conversation – and simply because you're a human being – at some point you'll begin to wonder how the things you discussed apply to you.

We've all met people who constantly blame everyone else for their problems, without looking to see how they're engineering at least some of their problems for themselves. (And it's much easier to notice when someone else is falling into this trap than when it's you!).

And sadly, it's a trap that catches out unwary coaches – especially those who are more comfortable working with their clients rather than ever doing any work on themselves.

Talking recently with a mixed group of life and business coaches revealed that many of them seemingly attract clients with the same goals – or issues that they're hoping to overcome themselves. In some cases, these are difficulties that the coach has managed to surmount in the past – and has therefore become an expert in that particular field – but in other cases, the coach was at the same time trying to beat the challenge in their own lives.

Coincidence? Synchronicity? Or is there something deeper going on?

And there's a bigger question too. As the saying goes, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king". Should coaches have all the answers and be an expert for every obstacle that a client might encounter? Or is it simply enough that the coach has all the tools he or she needs to help the client reach their own conclusions?

Some would say that the latter is what coaching is all about – but my recent experiences with coaching would suggest that clients are wanting someone who can ask the right questions – and these only come from having had some experience to draw upon.

Without that level of authority, the client only receives a general (and therefore often somewhat meaningless) session. In fact, a few coachees have questioned whether they actually needed the services of a coach at all… purely because they felt that a written sheet containing coaching questions would have sufficed.

"Often when we look at someone else, what we see in the mirror is a clear reflection – and if we don't like what we see, we can begin to examine and adapt our own behaviours."

If we are to avoid the accusation of 'Emperor's New Clothes', then as an industry, we must make sure that our clients get real benefit from spending real time with us – and that means that we must have at least some understanding of what the client is facing.

What can your clients teach you?

If you're constantly being asked by clients for help with the same issues, then the chances are that you're being invited to look into the mirror. And just as importantly, if you find yourself surrounded with people who display the same irritating characteristics, it might again be time to look more deeply into oneself.

A great question here is: 'How is my behaviour reflected in what I see around me?' Or if you're more spiritually-minded, ask yourself what the other person would be teaching you - if they were actually your greatest teacher in disguise?

Learning from other people's behaviours and experiences is deeply empowering. Not only does it accelerate you on your own path – but it puts you firmly in charge of your destiny. How can you take personal responsibility if you can't see where you're sabotaging yourself?

Often when we look at someone else, what we see in the mirror is a clear reflection – and if we don't like what we see, we can begin to examine and adapt our own behaviours.

But just occasionally – like in a circus hall or mirrors – you'll find that what's being reflected back to you is a distortion of what are your own characteristics and behaviours. So what can you learn here?

The good news is that often what's being reflected back to you is a clear example of what you're no longer doing – so, you get to see how much you've grown. On other occasions, what you see in the mirror is a reflection of how other people perceive a certain situation – which might give you some useful feedback on your own perspectives.

Use the mirror wisely – and you can move forward in leaps and bounds when it comes to your own personal development.

Olivia Stefanino is the author of 'Be Your Own Guru' and has run leadership and coaching programmes within both blue chip organisations and SME’s over the last ten years. To download her free tips booklet '127 ways to harness your personal power' visit www.beyourownguru.com

An Ancient Sufi Teaching Story:

The traveller's story…

As the weary traveller reached the city walls just before dusk, he asked an old man loitering nearby about the kind of people he would be encountering in this place that was new to him.

"What kind of people did you find in the old place?" was the reply.

"Well, they were friendly, generous and fun loving."

"Well," replied the old man, "those are the kind of people you can expect to find here."

A fortnight later and another weary traveller reached the city walls just before dusk. Upon finding the old man loitering nearby, he asked about the kind of people he would be encountering in this place that was new to him.

Again came the reply, "What kind of people did you find in the old place?"

"Well, they were angry, mean and lying cheaters..."


Newsletter

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

 

Thank you!