You’ve probably heard a line like “This and $4 will get you a cup of coffee…:
Think about when someone says something like this. They offer their opinion and say, “Well, that and $4–6 dollars will get you a cup of coffee.” My depression-era parents used to talk about adding a nickel to an opinion, but hey, times have changed. Stuff costs more.
A statement like this is often intended to be self-deprecating. I get the use of humor in a comment like this, it releases tension. We make a joke because we’re a little bit uncomfortable. Three common scenarios cause this for a coach.
First, there has to be a cost for the person being coached. Coaching is one of the most effective ways to help someone change. If you’re reading this blog, you know coaching works. Effective coaches don’t shy away from the fact that the client will have to put something at risk to get what they want. The moment where that sets in can be a little tense, but the cost is worth it. A bit of self-deprecating humor can help if it builds commitment for the client. If that moment is a distraction, then, it’s probably not worth it. Learning to assess the value of a break in the tension in the moment is a high level coaching skill that speaks to the coach’s self-awareness.
Second, tension rises when the coach is on the verge of offering some input or feedback of their own. You might be about to bottom line the client. Or you’re seeing a chance to throw out some of your experience. Is it worth it, to step out of the formal coach role? We want to offer our opinions, but for whatever reason, we’re really sensitive to forcing those opinions on others. This seems to me to be a good thing.
I think something much deeper is also going on. We have a tendency to mitigate the risk of putting our thoughts, opinions, or values out there. The only time this is real is when our own experience is truly helpful for the client. Always, always, always remember that we can offer some of our own experience, but it’s the client’s choice whether to accept it and what to do with it.
Third, tension JUMPS up when the financial cost of the coaching relationship is presented. Every coach I know–who’s any good–has a moment of hesitation when the price is first discussed. Jokes seem like a great tension-breaker. But do you really believe that what you offer is worth it? If not, you should lower your prices! If you do, fight the urge to joke right then. FIGHT IT! The client is in for a battle. Change is hard. If you don’t believe you can help (and that the battle, with all of it’s connected costs) will be worth it, YOU have more hard questions to answer than the client does.
A little tension is helpful…it makes us better as coaches and helps us stay fully present in the relationship. But too much tension about the worth of what you’re offering is a nail in the coffin of your coaching career.
If you’re convinced you’re not worth the cost, you have two options: 1) rethink your pricing or 2) get better. There are plenty of good training and mentoring options available to you. (Check out CoachNet’s here.) You can become a MUCH better coach with a little additional training.
There is a cost for everything worth doing. What are you willing to pay? I’d love to see your comments below.