When Do You “Tell the Truth” During Coaching?

Sections of this topic

    A hallmark of coaching, whether coaching oneself or others, is to ask generative questions — questions to help clarify a current priority, to address the priority and learn at the same time.

    However, are there times when a coach should “tell the truth” — to assert the coach’s perspective without the use of questions?

    In his seminal book “The Road Less Traveled,” M. Scott Peck writes:

    • “… the act of withholding the truth is always potentially a lie,” … (p. 62)
    • “… the decision to withhold the truth must always be based entirely upon the needs of the person or people from whom the truth is being withheld.” (p. 62)
    • “.. the primary factor in the assessment of another’s needs is the assessment of that person’s capacity to utilize the truth for his or her own spiritual growth.” (p. 63)
    He adds (p. 151)
    • “But the reality of life is such that at times one person does know better than the other what is good for the other, and in actuality is in a position of superior knowledge or wisdom in regard to the matter at hand.” (p. 151)
    He adds (p. 153)
    • “To fail to confront when confrontation is required for the nurture of spiritual growth represents a failure to love equally as much as does thoughtless criticism or condemnation and other forms of active deprivation of caring.”
    In my coaching, I will “tell the truth” if I perceive any of the following — if the client:
    • Speaks of hurting her/himself
    • Speaks of hurting others
    • Does not make progress on his/her priority over numerous coaching sessions
    • Continues to show very strong emotions over numerous sessions

    My “truth” might be the strong suggestion that he/she get a professional evaluation from a trained therapist.

    What do you think?

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    Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD – Authenticity Consulting, LLC – 800-971-2250
    Read my blogs: Boards, Consulting and OD, and Strategic Planning.