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Why Expert Coaches Don't Say "Good Job"

Have you ever said this during a coaching session?

  • "Great Job"

  • "Well Done"

  • "That's Good to Hear"

  • "Sounds Amazing"

  • "That's a Great Idea"

  • "I Love That"

  • "That's a Smart Idea"

  • "I See You are Making Progress"

  • "YOU'RE F*CKING AWESOME" (I've said it once...)

Well if you've said any of the above or something similar, we hate to break it to you, but at that moment you were being a cheerleader NOT a coach

Why? Because expert coaches DO NOT praise their clients.

Whaaaaat! Did anyone just here a record scratch? This might be a controversial topic, but if you stick around and keep an open mind you just might be persuaded to withhold praise in your coaching session.

This week CLCI Live talks about why coaches get into the habit of praise, what that does to a client, and what a coach should do instead. We are joined by Lisa Finck (A.C.C.), Brooke Adair Walters (M.C.P.C.), Jerome LeDuff Jr (M.C.L.C.), and Anthony Lopez (M.C.P.C) and included is another insightful sample coaching session for our coaches to analyze.

So does this mean we have to always be a we blanket? Is CLCI just a bunch of Debbie downers? Do we want all coaches to be killjoy, party-pooping, buzzkill, spoilsports? Well...not exactly. Actually quite the opposite!

Why Coaches Love Giving Praise

Most people enjoy getting compliments. Whether it's deeply significant or mere flattery, offering compliments and acclaim has significant effects on the relationships between people. It makes the receiver feel good but more importantly, It makes us feel good.

Very very frequently you will encounter people who become coaches because they want to help others, they are someone people often come to for advice, people just naturally open up to them, and they are talented at encouraging and praising others.

Most people think of coaches as people who are a constant flow of positive motivation, affirmation, and "you can do it" slogans. But when life coach hopefuls start their accredited training they will quickly learn, this is not what life coaches do.

People like to be liked and by giving praise we are finding a shortcut to building rapport and establishing trust. It's really the easy way out of the realm of discomfort and into our clients good graces., and it often leaves our clients feeling good and wanting more. But this is a shortcut that may undermine our client in the long run only for our short term gain.

What Praise Does to a Client

You pass by a shady looking Life Coach in a dark alleyway...

They say "Pssst, hey kid, want some dopamine? I've got some compliments for you, highest quality affirmations around. Only $250/session for 12 weeks"

Ma and Pa always warned you to not get hooked on the approval of others

Our approval is effectively as good as money to our client. We're serious. Research has shown that compliments activate the same brain circuitry as getting cash.

Imagine what a coaching session would look like if you gave the client $5 instead of a compliment. Every time you were about to give them some affirmation you instead pulled out your wallet and handed them five bucks.

Would the ICF or any sensible person say that the client was motivated to keep coaching because of their own personal growth or because of the copious amounts of money they were making in your sessions? And you as a coach, how do you feel about paying for your client's business.?

Saying "good job" creates a conflict of interest for the client.

Coaching, by definition, "is partnering with Clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential" (ICF).

In essence, the rewarding part of coaching is self-generated in the client.

Let's repeat.

The rewarding part of coaching is SELF-GENERATED in the client.

Our job as coaches is to explore their way of thinking, ask questions that will help the client expand their perspective, and take notice of what the client thinks is and isn't working.

What a Coach should do Instead

Validate & Explore

Let's talk about validation for a moment. What it is and what it is not.

  • Validation IS acknowledging the client's feelings, thoughts, and actions as true and worthwhile in themselves. Whether or not a client's perspective on something is good or bad, their experiences are not rejected, ignored, or judged.

  • Validation is NOT approval. Approval is something to be granted and a reward to be earned. Our clients are not here to earn our approval but to work towards a goal and maximize their potential. It is up to them if they wish to celebrate their achievements.

At the 10:00 mark of our Live Video there is a great moment of coaching that shows how to validate and explore.

Brooke comes in as the client excited and happy with her progress being made. This is a prime moment where many coaches (including myself) would have given praise but Lisa, the coach, does something different.

Lisa asks "I noticed some things that you are sharing. How are you feeling right now?"

Brooke: "I just feel really pumped, I'm very excited, I'm very happy, I feel the change".

Lisa then repeats what she heard and asks Brooke to "Share more about that".

This is a great example of exploration and leads into ways clients can anchor experience to what they learned and how to move forward.

But what if your client has low self-esteem and a compliment just might be the right thing to pick them back up and motivate them? Well we have a bonus video from after our Live addressing this very problem.

To summarize, building confidence is a project that comes from inside the client, not from outside sources. While compliments are nice, withholding praise gives the clients something so much more:

The opportunity to think for themselves and self-generate their own rewards

Ego Check:

If you still disagree with us about praising your clients... ask yourself this. When I say "good job" to my client, is that moment about me or is it about my client.


Announcement! CLCI is Now introducing Digital Badging!

We are excited to officially announce to the world that CLCI is now utilizing Credly to offer our students and alumni digital badges when they become Certified Professional Life Coaches (CLC/CPC) and Master Certified Life Coaches (MCLC/MCPC).

On July 21st, 2021 we will begin issuing all students and alumni these digital badges when they graduate from our programs, in addition to printable certificates.

What makes these digital badges special?

These aren't your old fashioned certificates. These badges are:

  • Shareable: Meaning you can easily post them on Indeed, Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp. Or place them in an email signature or embed them on your website!

  • Verifiable: Each badge issued is uniquely linked to data hosted on the Credly platform and makes them more reliable and secure than a paper-certificate. No one except you can claim your credential and your associated identity.

  • Data Rich: Badges provide clients, peers, and family/friends concrete evidence of what you had to do to earn your certificate and what you’re now capable of.

Be sure to keep an eye out for emails from Credly or Certified Life Coach Institute in the future for more information.

For More Info on Digital Badging


Thank you,

Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr., and Anthony Lopez

Join us every Tuesday at 4 pm PST/7 PM EST for our CLCI Live Facebook Demos.

We now stream from our site! Watch by clicking here

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Don't miss out on our 3-day life coach classes, it's an education that is beneficial for life, not just for life coaches! Want to learn more click here.


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