Good Coaches Don’t (only) Provide Advice

breaking habits change coaching goal setting knowledge mindset coach Nov 19, 2021

A common mistake I see many coaches make is equating advice-giving with coaching. 

Don’t get me wrong, advice-giving is part of it. The problem is that they spend way too much time focusing on it as a core component of coaching.⁣

GOOD coaching is so much more

Being a good coach requires a lot more than constantly giving our clients advice. We need to put less energy into “telling” and more into asking. 

By asking our clients good questions, we get to know them, their goals, and their obstacles better. Only then can we actually help them achieve their goals. 

Unfortunately, most coaches do the opposite, which isn’t inherently wrong, but it’s certainly a less effective method.⁣

Asking clients not only more questions but more effective questions is a crucial lesson I teach in the Health Mindset Coaching Certification.⁣

As coaches, we assume the “expert” role.⁣ I mean, people are literally hiring you FOR your expertise. So it makes sense!⁣

But here’s the thing, you might have the expertise as a coach, but you’re not the expert on your clients’ lives.⁣

Your clients know themselves, their goals, lifestyles, struggles, and preferences wayyyy better than you ever will.⁣

If you immediately propose solutions,⁣ jump to conclusions about what your clients need,⁣ or assume you know what advice they need to hear, you may miss the mark or make a suggestion that goes against your client’s core beliefs. 

It can come off condescending or as if you didn’t care enough to ask & get more information first.⁣

Always ask

This is a really good example of “it never hurts to ask.”⁣ Even if you think you know what the answer is, ask your client the question anyways. It will either reaffirm what you already thought or set you on the right path. It will also help the client by giving them autonomy and help them realize why something like changing a habit is so important.

Instead of making assumptions, try starting with something like:⁣

What have you tried so far?⁣

Has anything worked for you in the past?⁣

Before I give you some suggestions, what do you think you could do differently next time?⁣

The behavior change secret sauce is guiding your clients to identify their own limiting factors and then begin to propose their OWN solutions.⁣

A client is much more likely to adopt a behavior change if THEY say that they want to make the change and they explain to you (and themselves) why the change needs to happen. If you tell them they need to change their habits, it likely won’t have as strong an impact.

That’s nothing against you as a coach. As humans, we’ll always be more open to hearing what we, ourselves, have to say, even if we hired a coach. 

Good coaching involves guiding clients to find and develop their abilities and reasons for change.⁣ It requires asking them the right questions and guiding them to the answers they probably already know deep down inside, but they haven’t admitted to themselves just yet.

We all know that coaching is not about just telling clients what to do.⁣


...Unless you and your clients prefer short-term changes, then, by all means, ignore everything I’ve said. ⁣

But if you’re the kind of coach I suspect you are, the kind that wants their clients to succeed and find long-term sustainable results, then keep asking questions.

Want more information on how to be a better coach to help both yourself and your clients? Learn more about the accredited Health Mindset Coaching Certification!

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