Not all coaches are created equal
All coaches are not created equal. In fact, very few people will rise to the level of a gold star coach, or even a gold star friend. What makes the difference? It’s one quality: Emotional Generosity.
Emotional generosity is in very short supply, especially in our superficial social world. I can count on one hand the number of people I would class as being true friends. I’ve got lots of acquaintances who I might call for a chat, or go for coffee with, but true friends are a rarity. So many people are emotionally unavailable. Someone who is emotionally generous is available for others, offers support, provides honest communication, and gives without an agenda, a true friend.
Emotional generosity is critical for developing authentic relationships. It offers presence, trust, and comfort in a world that can be overwhelming and lonely. An emotionally generous person is the one that is still there in a crisis when everyone else scatters. They are the one who listens without judgement and lets you rage against the world.
An emotionally generous person takes emotional intelligence to the next level. It is emotional intelligence in action. It is active empathy unafraid of the open, authentic and intimate understanding that is possible but rarely found even in many coaching relationships. Emotional generosity is a special combination of empathy – the willingness to feel what another person is going through and relate to them that you understand – and the choice to put aside your own needs for someone else.
Emotionally generous people have the ability to mentally wrap their heart around you so that, in that moment, what you have to say or what you are dealing with is the more important thing in the world to them. Deep down inside, you can feel the other person’s caring and concern. Having the sense that someone is really there for you is an amazing feeling.
So many people come for coaching at a time in their life when they are emotionally vulnerable. Are you an emotionally generous coach? Do you listen without judgement? Do you offer your time and space without an agenda? Are you available outside the contracted hours to listen to their pain?
The 13 Rs of emotionally generous coaches
There are certain traits which make an emotionally generous coach valuable. Not all coaches possess them, or at least not all coaches demonstrate them. These traits are:
- Responsivity: in a crisis a responsive coach will be there with compassion and warm understanding. They will anticipate their clients’ needs and respond with active concern. They will give because of a deep desire to give. They will respond quickly to clients’ requests.
- Reciprocity: all coaches should be able to develop trust and professional closeness with their client, which creates a psychologically safe climate for their ongoing work together. It includes support, respecting boundaries, commitments and being genuinely concerned for their well-being.
- Relinquishes power: power struggles should be non-existent. A good coach puts their clients’ needs first. A good coach lets the client lead.
- Regardful: an emotionally generous coach holds their clients in high regard, valuing their goals and celebrating their accomplishments. Regardless of circumstances they don’t blame or rationalise when goals are missed or homework not completed.
- Relishes their time with clients: great coaches honour and appreciate time spent with clients. They are fully present and active. They reach out with plans, activities and ideas and make sure that their time together is prioritized.
- Rewords and reframes: all coaches need this trait. A great coach will help clients see the bigger picture. They will help clients find security, safety and peace and help them to reframe their perspective. Finding the positive side of negative thoughts and words – ‘I can’t do this’ becomes ‘I can’t do this yet’.
- Resistance: a great coach resists the easy way out and the simple fix. They resist giving advice or pushing a perspective allowing clients to find their own answers.
- Reassurance: great coaches are there for their clients. Whatever is going on they will reassure clients they are there – and they are – consistently and with consistency.
- Refutes: a great coach will fight for their clients’ corner, their rights and their reputation. Great coaches never betray a client’s trust.
- Resolution: a great coach truly believes in their clients. They understand their clients’ qualities and make sure that the client knows them too. Great coaches honour their clients’ choices and resolve to help the client reach their goals.
- Restoration: great coaches bring calm, peace and relaxation to a crisis. Though they can’t bring back what has been lost, they will work to restore equilibrium to their clients’ life.
- Realism: a great coach has no hidden agenda. they are honest, open and sincere. They genuinely have their clients’ best interest at heart. They are genuine, truthful and down-to-earth.
- Reliability: when a client needs their coach, they are there, no questions asked. If there’s a crisis great coaches will drop everything to be there putting their clients’ needs first.
Do you recognize yourself in those traits?
Whether you’re an experienced coach or still in training, working on those traits will make the difference between being a good coach and a great coach. Practice being emotionally generous with friends and family so that it becomes ingrained in your psyche.
Good friends and great coaches are like gold-dust. They will walk through hot coals to be there for those who need them. I remember walking through hot coals at a coaching retreat. I never thought I could or would ever do it. It took a lot of self-belief. Many people who called themselves great coaches stood back, remained in the background and refused to hold my hands as I walked through. Are those the sort of people I would want to coach me? Not on your nelly.
I know what it takes to make it through the greatest pain, suffering, and loss: empathy, compassion, and emotional generosity. When my dad died, my husband was not there for me and very slowly my love for him died too. He was emotionally unavailable. He’d become emotionally attached to someone else and didn’t have enough left for me. By the time my mum died, I’d remarried to the most emotionally generous person I’ve ever met. He knew instinctively when I needed space and when I needed to be held. He knew exactly what to say when.
Next time you have a client who needs your support at a time when you’d rather be doing something else, think about the 13 Rs. Become emotionally generous. Your clients will love you for it and will pass on your name to others who will benefit.