What Coaching Is NOTJan 26, 2022
When it comes to being a coach, it's tempting to play devil's advocate so your client can see different sides of their issues.
However, that's not what coaching is about, and presenting these opposing ideas can sometimes do more harm than good.
What is a Devil's Advocate?
The Devil's Advocate is a term used to describe a person who actively presents opposing or contrasting views to an issue.
It may seem like they're providing crucial information, but being a devil's advocate is more to test the strength of an argument or belief than it is to educate.
Why is it Harmful to Coaching?
You might think that it's your role as a coach to present opposing information or perspectives to your clients to help them see the other side of whatever issue they're trying to overcome.
However, it often creates more resistance between you and the client, which could undo all their hard work.
For example, what if their internal state (from which they see the world) is through trauma, and it isn't safe for them to consider other perspectives? Trying to force one on them could further traumatize them, and that's not something a coach should strive to do.
Or, maybe their experiences have created a rigid internal state, and trying to break or alter that state so abruptly could result in distress.
What to Try Instead
For the internal state to truly change, one must make changes where the beliefs, values, and identities are stored. To do that, you have to get to the root of the problem.
Our subconscious stores all of our life experiences, and it's the filter with which we see and define ourselves, others, and the world. Most times, the root problems are stored here.
If you are not addressing the root, you are, in essence, a “salesperson” who offers alternate solutions until your client finds one that they like. It might seem like a good business strategy, but a salesperson won’t change their actual beliefs, values, and identities.
Coaching is more than offering different perspectives. It's listening to the client, addressing their issues, and creating a space where they're free to explore alternate solutions in a safe, sacred space.
By playing devil's advocate, you could be challenging their beliefs and experiences in a harmful way, and that can only breed resistance to change- which is not something that you, as a coach are striving for,
There may be times where you may want to ask your client if they are open to consider alternate realities, and then proceed with suggestions that they “see something from the other perspective”. This gives your client the choice, the space, and the option to be open to receive new information.