3 things coaches do, and you can do too, to help others

Mum, back off, you’re not helping! It’s just the way it is, OK?!
That’s what he says, and then he shut the door in my face again Noa, for the 2nd time this week, and didn’t want to talk.
He’s not letting me help him.
I see him suffering, stressed, upset.
Almost every day is a struggle.
I tried to say that it’s not such a big deal, that it could be worse, I tried to give him advice, to tell him that anger will not help here, but he only gets more upset.
I honestly don’t know what to do anymore.”

This mother broke my heart.
Not to be able to help your teenage child can be one of the most frustrating moment in the life of a parent.
I saw the worry,

So we started to work together.
I knew that there should be a process in which we first explore where she feels her mistakes were, followed by what to do in order to get things better.

To me it was clear that

  • She didn’t listen: She rushed to give advice.
  • She dismissed his feelings.
  • She didn’t allow him the opportunity to explore what HE would like to do.

I asked her permission and she agreed to work explore where she’s wrong, and learn how to correct her mistakes.

I must admit that I rarely work this way with my clients: suggesting to look at their “bad behaviour” and then “correct” it for them, but I had to try.
As we had a long relationship as coach and client, she trusted me that at the end of it, there’ll be a positive outcome (and mind you: that I consulted her and let her lead the process as much as possible).

So what was the more desirable way to communicate with this teenager?

Here we concentrated on 3 of the many things which coaches do, and why they’re considered such great helpers.

And here they are:

Coaches stay with their clients

That means that no matter what the client expresses, or what story they tell, coaches stay and listen, with no judgement, without trying to “fix” anything, or give advice.
They allow the space to talk. They use their listening skills and just accept that that’s what on their client’s mind.
Try to listen without answering right away, ask things like:

  • “What else?
  • Can you tell me .more?”

Try to repeat what someone said in your own words.
Refrain from talking about yourself, and keep the space for the speaker.

Coaches allow feelings to rise up

Talking about feelings, even the most difficult ones, help us release tension. Remember that at challenging times, it’s perfectly fine to be upset, worried, annoyed and scared.

  • Ask people about their feelings:
    “How are you feeling?”
    “Where do you feel it in your body?”.
  • Remind them that it’s OK to feel just as they do (too many people apologise for how they feel).
  • Give place to whatever feelings are expressed: You might not feel this way, but this is about them and not you.
  • Accept crying and laughter. It’s all OK.

Coaches help people to see what else is possible

When people are tense or worried, they tend to close up, and tell themselves the same story again and again.
It’s possible that they’ll share it with almost anyone they know, and drill-in a hole which they’ll find it very difficult to come out of.

Here’s where you can come in, and after you’ve listened, and let feelings be expressed, you can see if there’s a way to offer another path to think or act.
You can ask:

  • “What else might be possible for you?”
  • “Is there another way of looking at this?”
  • “May I offer another perspective on the matter?”

You’ll be surprised how amazed people will be and how much this can help them.


At The ICCI we believe that everyone can become better at helping others.
Not everyone needs to make it into a profession of course.
Becoming a skilful helper is the name of the game.

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