Why Do Busy Professionals Coach by Phone?
The most cost-effective and efficient form of coaching is done by phone (and email, text, and IM)
One of the quirks of career coaching—at least with those who deal with professionals—is that it’s often a phone relationship. “I meet my clients once in a while,” says [an executive coach]. “But they are very busy, and they find it more convenient to talk over the phone.” Besides, people “are more focused and less distracted on the phone.”*
People new to coaching are sometimes surprised to hear that almost all coaching is done by phone. Why has phone coaching become so incredibly popular? How can you effectively get life coaching or career coaching by phone? Actually, coaching, which is a relationship carried out not just by phone but, critically, throughout the week by email, and instant messenger, is not only the most prevalent form of non-athletic coaching in the world, it is considered by many to be more effective than doing the same thing in person. Why?
“Much of [actual coaching] takes place over the phone. Many coaches and their clients have never met face to face. But it may not be the face-time that matters most in managing to get the best out of [clients].”
— Fortune Magazine
We strongly urge you to find a coach with whom you have chemistry and whose style you like. Go with your instincts. Restricting your search geographically will greatly reduce the odds of finding just the right fit for you. An in-person coach is also likely to charge more to cover the overhead of an office, among other things.
Advantages of Phone Coaching
Phone coaching is arguably even more effective than in-person personal coaching, and for the following reasons:
- it’s more efficient — you don’t have take time off from work or travel anywhere or look for parking, and there’s much less of the ultimately wasteful chit-chat that characterizes face-to-face encounters (not to mention waiting in line for coffee)
- there are fewer distractions to divert either the coach or the client — instead, we’re laser-focused on the substance and delivery of what you say — and don’t say
- because it’s more efficient, it’s also less expensive
- with the global reach of the telephone, you’re more likely to find the best coach for you!
The best thing about new profession of coaching is that its reach is as great as that of the Internet itself. A review of the world of telephonic coaching will spot Florida coaching clients in Miami finding their best match with a life coach in New York, and British business coaching clients often fitting best with American business coaches with just the right experience for their coaching needs. With the whole world to choose from, and no limitations on anyone, why would anyone choose to limit their search for the best coach for them?
The best coaching relationship is like a good marriage. It’s based in large part on chemistry. And the smaller the net you throw, the lower the chances of having chemistry within that net, so there’s only a slight chance that you and your best coach are within traveling distance of each other. Enter the phone coach.
Think about it this way. A sports coach is coaching an individual in a physical activity. It stands to reason that the coach must be able to visually observe the activity and to give immediate feedback. But not even all sports coaching is about the athlete’s purely physical performance — studies show even most sports training and performance is mental. That’s where the coach comes in.
And life, career, or business coaching are the most interior of all. The stuff of non-athletic coaching, such as personal or executive coaching, is precisely the interior life of the individual being coached. How they look doing it is beside the point. All the motion, all the change, is inside.
Location, Location, Location — And the Phone Coach
So why do some people – always people who have never been coached before, interestingly enough — imagine that coaching should be in person? Some people imagine that coaching must like the closest model they can think of: therapy. Based on this misunderstanding, they think coaches need to look at clients’ faces, or to establish what therapists call a highly personal transference relationship that will model the client’s relationship with his parents.
What we do when we coach does not depend on our being in the same room as you anymore than you need to be face-to-face with a loved one in order to advance certain types of important conversations. Have you not discussed values and hurdles over the phone, made decisions, even broken up or gotten back together? Sure. You’ve taken action based on phone conversations that elicited that action.
Similarly, coaches identify goals, examine patterns, listen for excuses, ask for action, and enforce commitments. Can your boss make you jump over the phone with a demand for answers? Sure. Can your parents inculcate guilt over the phone? Of course they can. That’s because what they do in those conversations doesn’t depend on what’s visible. The same is true of coaches in the conversations we have.
The misunderstanding that coaching must be like therapy is one thing coming from a person who is not a coach, but if you hear a coach telling you that you need to be in person, you should strongly reconsider whether what that person is doing is actually coaching.
But don’t just rely on what you read here — the chief characteristic of successful people is taking action. You’ve got nothing to lose, so ask, right now, for your . . .
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* From The Careerist