Good coaching is rooted in compassion, support, respect, rapport, and encouragement. Clients are on a personal journey to discover new pathways in their lives and create new realities. Sometimes the most compassionate and supportive thing for a coach to do is speak the raw truth. And sometimes that honest, unvarnished truth hurts—it can be painful for the client to hear.
So out of our good intentions, we may be reluctant to cause pain. It certainly doesn’t feel good, and it might be easier to just let it be. But isn’t that what good coaching is sometimes—tough love? We should say what we notice as well as we can discern it, and then it’s up to the client to decide how to handle what they hear. It is often in our most challenging situations that we grow the most. Thus, wrapped in compassion and care, a great coach will “call it like it is”, even when it hurts. Your client needs you to be honest, forthcoming, and kind. You are their partner. Ask yourself, if I have this instinct, observation, or contribution to make, how well am I serving my client if I refrain from sharing it?
We never want to share anything sensitive in an insensitive way or without permission. Sometimes our clients are not in a place where they can either hear it or handle it. We have to meet them where they are. If your observation could be perceived as critical or harsh, you have to ask permission to share something that you think is important but communicate in a way that clearly demonstrates your motive is caring and transparent.
As our client’s partner, we are walking along side them in their journey. Our ability to create a safe space and a trusting relationship will allow us to tackle even the most difficult topics with compassion and grace.