When talking about the 11 most common coaching errors, it’s a conversation open to healers, intuitive readers, health professionals, counselors, and therapists — essentially anyone working in the health and healing industry.
This post is both for coaches and those looking for a coach to know the red flags to avoid. I am a meditation coach and trainer, so I most often focus on how to teach meditation, and this topic covers one of my primary tasks as a coach and trainer. I work through these problems as part of my work every day, so I will share lots of examples about these 11 common coaching mistakes.
11 Common Coaching Mistakes
1. The Coach Talks Too Much
Whether it’s through lecturing, preaching, or teaching, the coach is talking too much when there is more talking than listening and being receptive to the client. Coaches benefit their clients when they’re in a state of receptivity rather than drowning out the client with their wisdom or knowledge. If you’re a coach, it’s important to be mindful of any need to preach and remember to put the client’s needs first.
2. The Coach Speaks From a Place of Authority Like a Parent
Clients aren’t looking for another parent. Instead, a coach is a peer empowering another peer. You are equals. The client is an adult and capable of developing their path with a bit of encouragement. A coach is there to empower the client’s inner-knowing so they can make their own choices and forge their own path.
3. The Coach is Predictive About Their Clients’ Future
This mistake crosses a line from natural intuitive or clairvoyant and starts to make psychic predictions about a client’s life. In an empowered session, the intention is to let the client discover their path, not for you to predict it.
As a client searching for the right coach, be careful not to give your power over to a psychic reader. Coaches are people too. They make mistakes. Just because a coach is highly intuitive does not make them spiritually or personally advanced.
In a coaching relationship, the client is ultimately responsible for their own life, actions, and choices.
4. The Coach Directly Tells the Client What to Do
Instead of telling you what to do, a coach is there to ask insightful questions so that you can discover your path and what feels right within yourself. A coach can affirm what you say you want to do and help you discern what you are feeling and hearing. However, be aware of coaches who want to insert themselves, or their opinions and perspectives into your life. An experienced coach holds an open space of neutrality and doesn’t try to intentionally sway or influence the choices you make.
5. The Coach Perpetuates the Ideas of Victimhood and Separation
Be aware of coaches who help you buy into the idea that you are a victim. These coaches may make you feel that life is happening to you and that you need to separate yourself from the people who are attacking you. They may paint a very black and white picture of what’s wrong and right, and that they, as coach, are “the one” who can help you in your distress. Their advice may be as direct as, “you need to cut that person out of your life.” Of course, there may be extreme situations like abuse where you would feel compelled to take such actions, but your most important life decisions need to come from within you, not from another person.
6. The Coach Fails to Work With the Energy of Love, Unity, and Compassion as a Coach
Be aware of coaches who do not work from a place of love, unity, and compassion. In an empowering session, you will feel that you are being elevated into a consciousness space that is peaceful. You may have the feeling that the whole session with the coach is being informed by this space. As a result, you’ll feel a positive energy through interactions with your coach.
As a coach, attune yourself before your sessions and make sure you are coming from a higher place within yourself rather than the place where you deal with your everyday stuff. Create a space of consciousness together with your client. For more information on this approach to teaching, check out our article “How to Teach Meditation“.
7. The Coach Does not Evoke the Wisdom of the Client but Pushes Their Own Agenda
This one is a caution against preaching, teaching, or telling your client what they should be doing. Instead, create a space for them to come to their own realizations and notice their emotions, feelings, and body. Coaches help draw out their client’s own wisdom, insight, and intuition. They don’t push a client in the direction they, as a coach, think that person should go.
Clients have their own compass and wisdom. Take the time and have the patience to tap into that space together with your client. The fantastic thing is that you can do this with your client, even online. We have found online coaching very effective, especially during times of social distancing. To find out more, read our article “How to Teach Meditation Online“.
8. The Coach Leaves People With a Sense of Desperation, Despair, and Need
Be aware of coaches who leave you feeling hopeless, in a state of need. If you feel depleted after working with a coach, pay attention to that. There are some coaches who leave you feeling a sense of despair, that things are wrong in your life, and that they are “the ones” who have the power to help you.
A positive coach leaves you with a sense of hopefulness, insightfulness, and clarity. Even if the sessions bring up the deeper, darker emotions, you may notice a feeling of catharsis where energy is released. You might feel tired but not despair and heaviness. You will come away feeling lighter, more yourself.
9. The Coach Creates a Sense of Codependency With Their Client
This problem combines some of the things we have already talked about. The coach may make the client feel that they are broken and the coach is “the one” who can fix them. The coach might even say, “I am the one who has the solution, and it will take this much time and money to get there.” This approach can make you feel like your choices are limited.
A truly experienced coach might say, “This is what I offer. The choice is yours.” It feels like a gift presented with an open palm, not one that has a hook attached. When people turn to others for help, they may feel the need to ask for answers, perhaps even desperately. It’s important to be aware of coaches who hook you in with a client agreement that may not serve your highest good.
10. The Coach Does Not Look at the Bigger Picture With the Client
The coach paints a bleak picture of your life and makes it seem like you really need their help. However, an experienced coach recognizes that there is a learning experience even amid the most painful situation. The client may be so focused on that situation that they miss the bigger picture and can’t see the resolution of the end of the suffering. A coach will cultivate a client’s ability to be in their power even when they feel anxious and stressed. The result is a more hopeful, helpful, reframed perspective around a situation. The technique used is by asking questions, not by telling or lecturing.
11. The Coach Uses Prescriptive Words Like Should and Don’t
Some coaches direct their client’s experience by speaking to them like a parent, “do this, don’t do that.” “You should, you shouldn’t.” This comes from a fear-based consciousness rather than an empowered state. An experienced coach uses words that are supportive and encouraging of the client’s innate wisdom. They apply questions, such as, “What do you think is right? What do you think is the next step? What do you feel? Where do you feel that in your body?” Again, your language and questions should lead people into their innate wisdom. It should free them, not restrict them.
12. Lastly, An Extra Point! The Coach Doesn’t Do Enough Personal Inner Work
There is a common archetype called the wounded healer. The healer is all about helping others but not taking care of their own pain and hurt. All the knowledge and wisdom flows in one direction outward to others. A wounded healer can continually run from their own true healing, by avoiding their own pain while they help others through theirs.
The problem is that if the coach isn’t doing their inner work, they begin projecting their own issues and blocks onto their client. They coach from a place of limitation, lack, and scarcity rather than abundance. This perspective unintentionally fosters a sense of need, victimhood, and codependency.
A Word to the Client
You should come out of a session with a coach feeling lighter, brighter, more clear, empowered, and connected to your spirit. You can tell that the coach holds this loving, open space for you to follow your own wisdom and feel free to choose your path. You should feel you can be yourself fully and totally without the expectation that you must please your coach, or feeling pressured to be anything or anyone. With truly supportive coaching, you feel closer to your true, authentic self.
Summary: The 11 Most Common Coaching Mistakes
- The coach talks too much.
- The coach speaks from a place of authority like a parent.
- The coach is predictive about their clients’ future.
- The coach directly tells the client what to do.
- The coach perpetuates the ideas of victimhood and separation.
- The coach fails to work with the energy of love, unity, and compassion.
- The coach fails to evoke the wisdom of the client.
- The coach leaves people with a sense of desperation, despair, and need.
- The coach creates a sense of codependency with their client.
- The coach does not look at the bigger picture with the client.
- The coach uses prescriptive words like should and don’t.
- ** The coach doesn’t do enough personal inner work.
Learn more about how to develop yourself as a coach. Visit LIBERATE, our 12-week Online Certified Meditation Coach training.