Coaching – How to Teach with a Compassionate Heart

A coach is a leader and mentor who helps develop potential. Coaching is integrated into all stages of life, from our first experience in little league to current interactions with career coaches on our jobs. After being coached for so many years, it’s rewarding to switch roles and experience the dynamic from the driver’s seat. However, how you choose to coach will determine whether your guidance is well received or disregarded. Coaching with compassion is one way to show care in your approach. Here are five tips on how to teach with a compassionate heart.

1. Focus on the Positive

Healthy environments are filled with more positive energy than negative. Although a portion of coaching requires you to identify your mentees’ areas of improvement, there will still be countless opportunities to accentuate the good. When your students do well, exuberantly celebrate. When they underperform, put a positive spin on your delivery. Find a silver lining, if possible, and end the conversation on a high note.

2. Correct with Love

Your team members trust you to provide guidance to help them improve. To be coached effectively your mentees must be vulnerable enough to willingly allow you, an outside source, to analyze their actions and point out their errors. That’s a huge feat for most. As their coach, the least you can do in return is respect their vulnerability by choosing to give your correction with love. This means providing gentle advice that is supportive, not belittling, encouraging, not insulting, and helpful, not hurtful. Loving correction is not cutting. It is not cruel. It is not unkind. Instead, it is crafted to provide enlightenment, resolution and progression.  

3. Practice Empathy

Learning comes with error (and plenty of it). Remembering this caveat is one of the keys to coaching with compassion. At one point or another we’ve all experienced the feelings that come with being a student. There are, of course, the highs of accomplishing new skills and improving old ones, but there are also the lows of temporary failures, uncertainty and frustration. Good coaches show empathy. They keep their own days of learning difficulties fresh in their minds and relate to how it feels to be in their students’ shoes. Compassionate coaches are patient, encouraging and understanding, even of the days their students struggle the most.  

4. Be Approachable and Accessible

Compassionate coaches have an open door policy. To build relationships between a leader and its team members, both frequent communication and solid trust are vital. Students need to feel like they can discuss issues with you whether it’s about their performance or their home life. They should feel comfortable approaching you for help or even just as a listening ear. And lastly, they should be assured that all conversations are confidential. These steps build rapport, community and understanding.

5. Surround Yourself with Like-Minded People

To be the best coach you can be, you must surround yourself with other people who share the same vision. To remain compassionate, seek out others who have the same goals. Build a coaching team of people who agree with your methods. Create a family of like-minded individuals. There will be times of frustration and weariness, but during your weak moments, you will be able to glean inspiration and strength from your compassionate people you’ve placed in your life.

Fulfilling the role as coach in the lives of others is a noble task. Strong coaching is the difference maker in many success stories of athletes, artists and professionals all over the world. Coaching with compassion is one of many positive approaches to offering guidance to those who seek it and these five tips can help you master the technique.

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