Over the years prospective clients have asked me to explain how coaching differs from friendship. Here are my thoughts on the matter.
- Guarantee of Confidentiality – Coaches commit to keeping the content exchanged during their client relationships private. In fact, coaches do not acknowledge they have a professional relationship with a particular client without the client’s express permission. Friends often share stories of their friends’ lives with other friends.
- Commitment– Coaches schedule a pre-determined amount of time with their clients each week, month or year. Coaches prepare for client sessions and keep track of clients’ development. Friendship is catch-as-catch-can; particularly for moms who are employed or entrepreneurs, friendship often falls to the bottom of the activity list by necessity. Furthermore, a coaching relationship is finite, for however long the coach and client determine. The premise of friendship is that it’s indefinite.
- All About You – Coaching is focused exclusively on the development of the client. Coaches do not expect support from their clients, nor do they feel used if they don’t get equal time to talk about themselves. A healthy friendship goes two ways; it’s about what both people like, want and need.
- Professional Skills and Expertise – Coaches bring specific knowledge and capabilities to each relationship. As a coach, I bring my toolkits in psychology, business, organizational change, and conflict resolution to every session. It’s my professional responsibility to continue learning and growing so that I can add more and more value for my clients as they grow. Friends typically do not feel responsible for educating each other.
- Role Models – Coaches are role models for effective communication. They are willing to be open, direct, and even vulnerable for the sake of a client’s growth. Friends naturally protect themselves at times conflict may arise, sometimes rightfully so.
- Objectivity – Coaches are non-judgmental. As a coach, my only agenda is my client’s success. Friends may have other agendas too.
- Transferability – Not all friends have coaching skills, but ideally coaches have friendship skills. Occasionally, with their permission, I use my coaching skills with my friends. I am fortunate to have relationships with both friends and coaches who do the same with me.
In the comment space below, please share your thoughts about these points and other comparisons, particularly if you have ever been a coach or a coaching client. I look forward to the dialogue!