Among the many benefits of the coaching relationship is the opportunity for a client to be in a partnership where the coach views the client as the expert in his or her own life. Since the client is viewed as the expert, the coach seeks to facilitate the discovery of the client’s own answers. Thus, the coach provides the framework for discovery-based sessions rather than advice-based sessions.
When I coach someone, my intent is to allow the client to be fully who he or she is in that moment and to refrain from filling the space with a list of suggestions or advice for next steps. There are pauses in the conversation and periods of silence, as I allow a client the space to think and uncover the answer.
One of the most empowering things you can do for other people is treat them as the expert in their own life. When you believe in another’s ability to uncover their own answers, they gain the confidence to do so. This gives them the freedom to live a life that is authentic to who they are.
If you carry this behavior into your day-to-day interactions, it will strengthen your relationships. When you have the confidence and assurance to realize not everyone else’s life is yours to solve, you release the need to interject your opinion in every interaction. Not only does this demonstrate respect for another’s thoughts and feelings, it allows people to be whoever they need to be or to take whatever action they feel is necessary.
Conversely, one of the most disempowering ways you can treat another person is to offer unsolicited advice or to approach the person as if you are the expert when it comes to what choice he or she should make. I see this happen quite often, and as I watch it happen- or as I listen to it happening- I see and hear a person cower or shrink away.
I am not talking about situations where we intentionally seek out advice from others. This is a completely different situation and a necessary part of life. There are times when we all benefit from mentors, confidants, close friends, or professionals whose advice we respect and trust. We need to be able to approach certain people and say something along the lines of, “I could really use some advice. What would you do in this situation?” Of course, having people we can turn to for advice is very helpful for various reasons.
What am I am talking about is a general way of talking to others that makes them feel insignificant. When someone begins sharing about what he or she is going through and we jump to suggest what a friend tried, or how we think they could best accomplish the task, we immediately disempower. You will notice the person disengage or seem disinterested.
For years, I faced scrutiny from others as I battled chronic pain. Many people seemed to think that they needed to help me, so they treated me as such. Repeatedly offering opinions and suggestions about what I should do, they would intersperse advice throughout the conversation whether I asked for it or not. They felt the need to take on my life as their own problem so they would say things such as: “You should try this.” “What if you did this?” “I know someone who did this.” It was both exhausting and disempowering.
While I realize they only sought to be helpful, the point is that we do not need to take on what everyone else is facing as our problem to solve. People feel most loved when they are completely accepted and treated as if they are free to live life in a way that they believe is best for them. We all face different and difficult situations at times, and more often than not, the answers tend to come from within.
Today, I challenge you to see others as the expert when it comes to how they are living their lives. Release the need to offer advice. Rather, focus on becoming an expert in your own life to maximize your potential and achieve even greater success! Also, for more thoughts on this topic, see the post I wrote entitled, “Listening as someone.”
When you treat others as the expert in their own lives, you:
Allow room for others to make mistakes.
When you are not attached to the choices or outcomes of others, you give them the freedom to learn and grow on their own.
Demonstrate confidence in another’s abilities.
When you aren’t trying to fix or solve others’ problems for them, your confidence in them gives them the courage to act on their own. How much more successful are we when we create our own solution (knowing we have the belief of a supporter who is cheering us on) as opposed to following a solution that was given to us?
Have a positive exchange.
When you treat someone like they need to be helped, and thus disempower them, you are essentially fostering a negative environment with low-level energy. When people feel empowered, they communicate from a place of high energy and the interaction is a positive one.
Create a higher level of trust and intimacy.
Ultimately, people talk when they feel safe. When others feel that they can be completely who they are without fear of your opinions or judgments, they share more freely.
Empower others to reach their full potential!
We are capable of so much more than we even realize. When we are treated this way, we rise to the occasion!
The above list is simply an overview of some of the benefits that occur when we treat others as the expert in their own lives. The list could go on.
Another point is that the relationship with our self and others is interrelated. When you begin viewing yourself as the expert in your own life, you will step into your own power.
Plus, by developing the confidence in your ability to uncover your own answers and make the decisions that are right for you, you begin to believe others are capable of doing the same. This means you empower them because how you treat them is a reflection of how you treat yourself.
Everything you need is within. Keep following your heart and trusting your gut.
You are a powerful being. Don’t let anyone treat you otherwise!