Honesty between coach and coachee is something we often mention when talking about how coaching works. But why?
The coach-coachee relationship is unlike many others. Your coach isn’t your manager, so they can’t use their authority to get you to do things. Similarly, you don’t have to project confidence and capability in front of them.
You coach isn’t your friend (though they can be friend-ly), so they won’t always agree with you or accept your perspective without question.
The coach’s job is to understand your perspective, have empathy for your situation and your goals and to challenge you to reflect on your thinking and habits – all to help you move towards whatever it is you want to achieve.
This is a lot more difficult if you’re not open and honest with the coach. Coachees sometimes feel they have to agree with whatever the coach says (but I’m not your boss!) or project an “everything’s great!” attitude as if trying to impress a friend. This might be a habit built over a career, but it’s no use in a coaching context.
Coachees can also sometimes aim for goals and changes that they don’t 100% agree with or want, in an effort to impress the coach or simply be compliant. That’s really not helpful for your success in coaching, especially when you return to subsequent coaching sessions with little progress made and a sense of disappointment. Remember: these are your goals, not your coach’s.
On the other hand, if you’re open and share your perspective and views throughout coaching conversations, your coach can better understand and explore your experience. They can better gauge where you want to get to and what you think you’re able for. Honesty contributes to a better coaching relationship and is more likely to lead to the kind of change and development you’re looking for.
The coaching environment is one where you definitely don’t have to keep up a pretense or present a ‘brave face’.
Rest assured, your coach won’t judge you or hold against you anything you share with them. Your hopes, your concerns, your thoughts about your own capability. These are all fair game for discussion with your coach. Don’t try to be ‘bullet proof’. Instead, open up and be a little more vulnerable.
So, don’t try to be ‘bullet proof’. Instead, open up and be a little more vulnerable. It may not be easy – in fact, it may be uncomfortable, but you’ll be pleased with what you can get out of coaching once you do.