Pathfinder Associates
Tel: 01625 250848 or 07825 971371

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Why Coaches Don’t Give Advice

When we experience someone wrestling with an issue or a problem, our first reaction is often to want to help. We turn into Superman or Wonderwoman, get our underpants on the outside of our trousers and dive in with advice. So, is that actually very helpful? In some instances it might be, but very often it isn’t. Why?

In coach training, we are told that coaches don’t give advice because it’s not helpful to the client. This is mainly because it doesn’t allow the clients to work out a solution for themselves and, also, because our advice may not be appropriate for them, anyway. The situations we have experienced or heard about are likely to be different to the one faced by the client.

Now, we are discovering the neuroscience behind this. David Rock’s book ‘Coaching with the Brain in Mind‘ explains this when he talks about error detection systems in the brain. Humans are expert at pattern matching and the way our brains are wired is to notice when something doesn’t quite fit with what we were expecting.

How does this relate to giving advice? Well, if the advice doesn’t fit with their situation, then the uncertainly may set off the error detection response. Even if the idea is familiar, it can still induce in the other person a feeling that the advice is a challenge to his or her status.

So, the next time you are tempted to give advice, and even if someone is pushing you to give advice, stop and challenge yourself whether this will actually help them with their situation.

Alan from Pathfinder Associates is a qualified coach, a member of Association for Coaching and has a coaching supervisor. If you would like any further information, please contact Alan on 07825 971371 or at

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