Subtitle this post, 'Coaches Behaving Badly'!
One of the basic coaching skills, which collectively are called the Coaching Foundations, is Validate Everything. I define validation as any appropriate expression of support, whether positive ('That's great!'), or negative ('That sucks!'). There are lots of ways to validate in coaching and one of the most effective, is acknowledgment.
Except when it's not.
Mattison Grey wrote the book on acknowledgment and defines it as a statement about what someone did, or the results they got, shared with a tone of wonderment. She says acknowledgment works when other forms of validation, such as offering compliments, do not, because often, people feel judged when complimented.
I couldn't agree more and Mattison is awesome at acknowledgment, but I've had yucky experiences with compliments, validations, and even acknowledgments, because sometimes, no matter how skilled people are at delivering them, they muck it up, anyway.
They just can't help it!
Most of my yucky experiences occurred with newish coaches, who most likely were just making mistakes with a new skill set and that's understandable. But sometimes it came from veteran coaches and then it looks like a character issue. As in, poor personal development, or lack of integrity.
Here are a couple of examples:
I used to work for a coach training company that called validation, championing. All the coaches there went about championing each other, because that's what good coaches do, right?
One of my coaching colleagues there used to champion me so lavishly that, one day, I asked her to stop, because I felt increasingly uncomfortable. I really didn't need, nor want to hear, over and over, what a great coach I was, what a fantastic coach trainer, how impressive my success was, nor how amazing was my devotion and commitment to my coaching clients and students. Ugh.
The next day though, she made several remarks that called into question my honesty and integrity regarding the coaching profession. Hmm, really? The same person's saying these things? It communicated to me that although she usually said over-the-top positive things to me, underneath she was judging me negatively on some major stuff.
She later apologized, which is great, but I never felt I could trust her. She had shown that regardless how syrupy her validations were, she was really thinking something else. In fact, to me, she was a suck up.
She left me feeling uncomfortable, insulted, and annoyed. That's how I still remember her.
You know, the IAC certification scorecard measures, among other things, whether the coach demonstrates consistency (a.k.a. integrity) between words and actions. If you validate, champion, acknowledge, or whatever you call it, and then demonstrate that you don't really believe what you said, you damage trust with the client.
Not validating enough during coaching is a mistake. Validating, but not meaning it, is an even more destructive mistake.
One of the problems with coach training is that sometimes we emphasize the 'how', instead of the 'who'. Thomas Leonard used to tell coaches to champion, because that's just who we are. If you do it for any other reason, you're manipulating. And the person you're manipulating will smell a rat.
I call dishonest validation, schmoozing. That's an Americanism, derived from Yiddish, that means to gossip or chat with someone, in an intimate manner, in order to manipulate, flatter, or impress them.
But you could just as well call it, INvalidation, because that's the effect it has.
Then there was the colleague from the past, who showed up in one of my classes at SCM. I was surprised she signed up, because I knew she had been coaching at least as long as I. The first day of class, she delivered some schmoozy validations of me, as a coach and coach trainer. Then she referenced her own great coaching skill and left a pause. I got the feeling I was supposed to reciprocate by acknowledging her prowess as a coach. Problem was, I had no memory of ever hearing her coach. Well, that was a little awkward!
There were any number of ways I could have navigated that awkward moment, but something blocked me. As my mind searched for any memory I had of her and her coaching, only one memory was vivid: She once called me up, offered me an interesting opportunity to teach coaching in a college, and said lots of nice, schmoozy things about how I was such a great coach and trainer and she knew I was the right person for the job, which basically involved coaching eight hours per day, at a college that was three hours away. The pay? $100 per day!! I don't consider myself to be thin skinned, but yes, I was insulted. It would have been better if she had asked me to volunteer for free.
Not surprisingly, she dropped the SCM course in a huff, before it was over. That's the kind of thing people do when they want you to acknowledge them and you don't do it. She also said some pretty nasty things about me and my training ability in an email.
And then, right on time, I opened an email from a coach I really admire. It began with a quote from Maya Angelou:
“When people show you who they are, believe them the first time."
The takeaway? Schmoozers schmooze. They can't be trusted, much less deliver great coaching, because great isn't fake.
Of course, nobody has to be a schmoozer for life. I've caught myself being fake, and try to remember it when schmoozy folks cross my path. Like the time I got an email from a coach I didn't like and forwarded it to a friend with a snarky comment. Then I saw the disliked coach at a coaching function. He offered a hug, so I hugged him. The next day, he emailed me. I'd hit, 'reply' instead of 'forward', so he got the snarky comment, instead of my friend! How fake was that to criticize him in private, then hug him in public? That memory is an embarrassing reminder that I'm still a work in progress, like everybody else. I've used it to upgrade my own behavior.
But once again, Maya Angelou says it best:
“I've learned that people will forget what you said; people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
If you're going to validate, acknowledge, or champion, do it because that's who you are and it's what you really believe. Otherwise, you may succeed at making someone feel good at first, but your behavior will give you away, and the contrast will make your judgmental behavior even uglier to the other person. That feels yucky and that's how they'll always remember you.
How do you become someone who champions just because that's who you are, and not because you're manipulative? Like anything else, practice. Get a coach. And work tirelessly on your personal development. Learn to get your ego out of the way and trust the process.
Otherwise, you may be remembered as a schmoozer.
Get coach training and personal development here:
Have you ever wondered about life coach salary rates or how much money executive or business coaches make? Or are you setting up a coaching business and wonder how to set your own coaching fees? Or are you wondering if you should become a coach? If you said YES to any of these then you need to read the new information-packed FREE eBook: Life Coach Salary.
We took several of our most popular coaching blog posts and added the 'How to Set Your Coaching Fees' worksheet, previously only available to SCM students. Then we combined them into an information-rich free ebook. It's a quick read that will help you understand how much professional coaches make, how coaches set up their businesses for profitability and how to set your coaching fees with confidence.
Let's face it, confusion is the enemy of success. This free eBook can wipe out your confusion about coaching costs and help you take the next step toward becoming a successful life, business or executive coach.
- Worldwide trends in executive, business and life coaching
- How much do executive, business and life coaches make?
- How many clients does the average business, executive or life coach have?
- Why every coach needs a steady paycheck
- Why coaching costs so much
- Why setting your fees too low can backfire for you and your clients
- How to set your coaching fees so your clients get what they want and your coaching business is successful
If you want a full coaching practice, you can't afford not to read the FREE Life Coach Salary eBook:
If you want to become a business coach, your best strategy is to shut up and listen. Yes, what you know matters, but less than you think. Listening is your key to helping others succeed.
Watch this TEDx video with Ernesto Sirolli, Founder of the Sirolli Institute, on how you can't help anyone unless you first listen.
This is true whether you're coaching them or selling coaching to them. To learn more, click the button to join Business Coach, Master Sales Coach and Provocateur, Mattison Grey, MCC; for a free teleclass on how to Stop Talking & Get More Clients.
But first, get inspired by Ernesto's impassioned talk. You'll love it!
Recently I interviewed Mattison Grey, MCC, about her 15 years as a super-successful coach and the three secrets to success that she wished she knew when she first became a business coach.
If you want to become a business coach yourself, love your work and be well paid, you owe it to yourself to listen to the 45-minute audio, below. Even if you're a veteran business coach, this audio will be eye-opening. In it, Mattison discusses in detail the following:
- Your fee has to reflect the value your client wants to create, not what you think they want to pay.
- Her mentor was right when he told her she would have to learn to sell if she wanted to succeed.
- Traditional selling is pushy and manipulative, so she had to learn a new way to sell with authenticity.
Listen to the whole audio to discover what Mattison really means and why it matters if you want to become a business coach and succeed like she did:
I know, because I've taken her sales seminar (twice), along with a whole slew of other successful coaches, such as Coaching Telesummit Queen, Adela Rubio, who said, "Mattison shifted my resistance to selling when I took her virtual sales training." and Coach Laurie Peterson, who says simply, "It Works!!!", and TV Image Coach, Sarah Shah, who says the best part is, "I'm making more money and no one feels dirty in the end."
By Julia Stewart, MCC
You might wonder what the heck Positive Psychology Coaching is, especially now that positive thinking, the Law of Attraction and all things associated with The Secret seem soooo out of vogue.
What, you haven't noticed that positive thinking is on the outs? You haven't heard Law of Attraction practitioners refered to as 'Thought Police Nazis?' Oh you will. It's just that mostly it's leading-edge folks who are speaking up. Next year, it'll be everybody. The pendulum has started its return swing...
Just this week, one my favorite coaches, Mattison Grey, ranted on the problem of positive thinking. And one of my favorite coaching bloggers, Tim Bronson, wrote that gratitude sucks (By the way, Tim, when are you going to enter your blog in Best Coaching Blogs?) And the only Shrink for Entrepreneurs I've ever heard of, Peter Shallard, announced that optimism is ruining your business.
Is this just a crowd of Negative Nancy's who aren't enlightened enough to get how great it is to be positive? Nope. These are people who are perceptive enough to see both the truths and the untruths hiding behind the hype.
So emboldened am I in their company that I will say bluntly what I've thought for years: If you throw out all your Abraham books and stop watching Wayne Dyer specials on PBS you'll probably become a better coach.
Why? Because coaching is not about magical thinking. It's about stuff that actually works. And while you and your clients are busy trying to control all your thoughts and never be judgmental, life is passing you by, including all the tidbits that will help you get what you want. And because over-focusing on anything creates shadows that can run amok.
"No one should spend their time trying to think positive thoughts. We've all got better things to do." - Thomas Leonard
So should you embrace negativity instead? No. Relentlessly negative thinking leads to depression, anxiety and more problems and positivity does a fabulous job of canceling all that out - up to a point.
So what is Positive Psychology Coaching and how does it fit in here?
Positive Psychology takes the positive vs. negative question out of the realm of beliefs and opinions and actually identifies when, what types, how often and even why positivity helps people succeed, flourish and gain mastery; and even when, what types, how often and why negativity is helpful when we want to succeed, flourish, gain mastery and be happier.
What Positive Psychology offers to coaching is a precision instrument instead of vague generalities, facts instead of opinions, evidence instead of empty promises, and a body of knowledge instead of a hodge podge of proprietary models and programs. And it offers opportunities to measure results and rack up the evidence instead of telling folks, 'Just trust us, this stuff really works!' In other words, what Positive Psychology offers to coaching is professionalism.
So back to the controversy over positive thinking. How can Positive Psychology help with that? For one thing, Positive Psychology offers a simple measurement tool: The Positivity Ratio (based on the more complex Losada Ratio).
The Positivity Ratio has been thoroughly researched. It basically says that in order to flourish, you need, on a regular basis, to think and feel positively at least three times as much as you think/feel negatively. So the right ratio of positivity leads to flourishing.
3P (3 * Positivity) / N (1 * Negativity) = Flourishing
And there's an upper end to this. Too much positivity vs. negativity actually causes problems. Think of it as a Positivity Bubble, which is where many Law of Attraction practitioners live. I think that's what the contrarian writers above were all trying to say: 'Don't over do positive thinking, because complacency can hurt you.'
It gets even more interesting...
Contrary to popular belief, you don't necessarily have to reduce negative thoughts and feelings in order to flourish and not all negativity is toxic. Some of it is quite valuable. Positive Psychology has identified which is which and provides assessments and tools to identify what's needed: more/different positivity and/or less/different negativity?
That's where Positive Psychology Coaching comes in. When you've got the right tools, including the assessments you need and the ability to analyze them and provide questions and exercises to shift your clients' ratios, you can assist your clients to experience more happiness, wellbeing, and mastery. In other words they flourish.
But Positive Psychology Coaches focus on much more than just positivity. They also focus on Values, Strengths, resiliency and resourcefulness, again with a precision that pinpoints what's needed and applies it more quickly and accurately than can most other coaches, creating better results for their clients, more quickly.
That's what your clients want.
We've all found out that working hard for what we want, while thinking and feeling the worst is just plain - hard. We've also found out that just thinking and feeeeling what we want is pleasant, but may not brings us closer to our goals. Why not learn the right combination that leads to success?
If you want to delve much more deeply into the subject of Positive Psychology Coaching, there are a few more days to register for the Introduction to Positive Psychology for Coaches course that starts this coming Thursday.
You'll learn just enough about the scientific underpinnings of evidence-based coaching, get introduced to a wealth of supportive resources, including assessments for you and your clients, learn Positive Psychology interventions suitable for coaching, get a chance to practice in class and even take an online test and receive a Positive Psychology Certificate from School of Coaching Mastery. You may even be able to apply what you learn for continuing education credit from the IAC or ICF.
So don't throw out positive thinking just yet. Instead, learn to apply it with laser precision and get greater results.
Got an opinion about positive thinking? Please share it in the comments section, below.
Image by LiteWriting aka Loreen72
Mattison Grey sent me the 'Shit Life Coaches Say' video the same day that I got an invitation to create a TEDed Lesson. So voila! I made a coach training lesson out of it.
That was also about the time I set up a Pinterest account and started linking it to some old 'How Not to Coach' videos from SCM. Some of them are quite funny and 'Shit Life Coaches Say' fits right in.
The embed below is from Pinterest. View the TEDed lesson here.
Like all How Not to Coach videos, this one has some truth to it. Newer coaches quickly adopt the language of the profession and love to talk the talk with each other, because they all 'get it'. Nothing wrong with that. Except...
If you can't put something into plain language, you probably don't really understand it, yet. And that makes it hard to communicate it to non-coaches ~ including those you'd like to have for clients. Move away from using jargon as soon as you can.
Oh, and if being laughed at makes you uncomfortable, get used to it. Life coaching is a recognized profession and like all others, it's a target for jokes. Remember the one about the doctor, lawyer and priest?
In her article, Mattison makes a powerful case for acknowledgment as a masterful coaching tool. She should know. Mattison wrote the book on acknowledgment called, The Motivation Myth. And she points out that most coaches don't know what it is or confuse it with something else.
Mattison has studied the art of acknowledgment more than anyone I know, probably more than any coach alive, so I always defer to her on this subject. She started educating me on acknowledgment six or seven years ago and I've watched her use it in action many times. It truly is amazing.
Unfortunately, if you haven't watched a master acknowledger practice her art, or if you didn't know what you were witnessing, you probably missed the implications. So let me point out a few.
Here's Mattison's definition of acknowledgment:
Acknowledgment is saying what a person did, or results they achieved, delivered with a tone of appreciation, curiosity or surprise, and without judgment.
Easy, right? Try it. For most coaches, it's anything but easy. That's because we're still getting in the client's way (In other words, we're NOT making it all about them, so we're failing the first step in master coaching).
If you acknowledge well, here are some of the things that may happen:
- Your client lights up
- They feel seen/heard
- They don't feel suspicious (as in, 'What's she buttering me up for?')
- They acknowledge themselves ('I did!')
- They open up to us
- They see themselves in a new light
- They tell us things we didn't even know to ask about
- They think more resourcefully
- They step into their Personal Greatness
- They are willing to do far more
- They love themselves (and us)
When I teach acknowledgment to Master Coach Training students, I offer a few pointers, such as, use second-person pronouns (you, your, yours) instead of first-person pronouns (I, me, mine); acknowledge what the client did, the results they got and who they are becoming.
When used well, acknowledgment can express or enhance virtually any other coaching skill, including all of the IAC Coaching Masteries(tm). The right acknowledgment, well-placed and followed by a bit of silence, can even be a powerful clarifier.
Which is one reason why master coaches don't always ask questions.
*I'm an affiliate of Mattison's and I would recommend this book, anyway.
There are many reasons why master coaches are more successful than other coaches.
It helps that they keep their clients longer and their clients rave about them to others, but there's a more subtle reason. When they show up as master coaches, they are much more attractive. The seven reasons that some coaches pass master coach certifications are all in the Seven Secrets of Mastery Certification ebook AND all seven come-froms are beautifully attractive in a sales conversation or complimentary coaching session. See below.
The Seven Secrets of SellingTM
1. Be 100% for the client.
Focus on serving them first, making a sale, second. It’s not about you.
2. Make no assumptions.
Be curious. Ask more than you tell. Understand them and their situation before you offer what you have.
3. Always validating.
Give them an experience of themselves and who they may be becoming. You’ll open a whole new world for them.
4. Inspire greatness.
Express your own greatness. Inspire theirs. That’s very attractive.
5. Be an evolutionary environment.
Help them grow. People love to be better.
6. Share wisely.
Tell them enough to pique their curiosity and be quiet long enough for them to choose.
7. Be an open channel.
Be open to what they really want. Notice more.
Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2006 - 2011
Inspired by the Seven Secrets of Mastery Certification and the selling brilliance of Mattison Grey
Get the Seven Secrets of Certification eBook here.
Mattison Grey is professional business and leadership coach and the founder of Greystone Guides, a high performance coaching and consulting firm. Her clients and fans enjoy her contrarian views and her courage to be provocative in a way that challenges the status quo. Mattison is fascinated by the gap between high performers and low performers and what it takes to go from mediocre to masterful in a chosen endeavor.
Coaching is a popular choice of profession for people right now.
Seems like everyone is a coach or is becoming a coach, doesn’t it? That is no secret. The trouble is there are secrets about coaching and having a coaching business. Secrets no one is telling beginning or emerging coaches.
The coaching schools won’t tell you – you might not sign up; coaching organizations won’t tell you – it’s not their role. So who has the guts to tell you? Julia Stewart, the gutsy-ist coach in America, has asked me to expose some of those secrets and share with you what I think are the biggest myths about coaching and starting a coaching practice. Here we go with the 8 biggest myths many emerging coaches believe.
MYTH #1, 2 and 3: Everyone needs a coach; coaching is for everyone; or everyone is a prospect. Sure everyone has room for improvement, but not everyone wants it. Learning to identify who is curious about coaching and who is not takes quite a bit of practice, and assuming everyone is a prospect can get in the way of accurate sorting.
MYTH #4: Coaching fixes problems. In fact, if you approach coaching with that mentality you will drive people away. Even though few people’s lives are perfect, they will resist coaching if you “come from” something’s wrong.
I often say, Amateur Coaching fixes problems. Masterful Coaching creates them.
What do I mean by that? If you take the client’s problem or challenge at face value, you will be missing a huge opportunity to really move them toward their greatness. Behind the presented challenge is always a bigger issue. Most of us know that. What masterful coaches know is that you don’t have to find that issue and solve it. You have to help the client find a project or game that is so interesting, fun and engaging that the previous issue magically disappears or is solved by the new game.
Here is a real life example: A few years ago, I was bored with my coaching business and not having much fun anymore. That was a pretty big problem. I asked Julia for a coaching session. Long story short, as a result of the coaching, I decided to DOUBLE my coaching fees. Never mind my fee was already pretty substantial. Doubling it would, with the exception of celebrity coaches, put it near the top tier of coaching fees in the world. WOW, now I had a HUGE “PROBLEM” but boy was I excited about it, and instantaneously my boredom went away and the fun returned.
MYTH # 5: You have been coaching your entire life. Even if you have been a great listener and confidant all your life, that doesn’t mean what you were doing is coaching or that you were meant to be a coach. When you get really good professional training it will become obvious that, while what you were doing may have been helpful for people, it wasn’t really professional coaching.
MYTH #6: You can make a great living in the beginning. You can’t charge high fees in the beginning. Beginner coaches get beginner clients, who pay beginner fees. That is true in most professions. The more experience you have under your belt, the higher fee you can charge.
MYTH #7: Internet marketing is coaching. This is a huge misconception and my biggest pet peeve. You can be a coach who uses internet marketing, or you can be an internet marketer who coaches. Trying to be both or not being clear about this distinction is a big mistake that beginners make. Either way is fine, but to really make it work you have to choose.
Finally the biggest myth in coaching today:
MYTH #8: You can have a successful coaching business without learning to sell. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but to fill your coaching practice you must learn to sell. This has never been more of a reality than in today’s extremely competitive market. With a coach on every corner, the only coaches that will make it will be the ones who can sell in a graceful authentic way.