What’s Wrong with Dr. Phil…?
(I think he’s an insensitive moron and here’s why…but this is just my opinion!)
“Never do harm”, states one part of the Hippocratic Oath, a code of conduct for doctors. A similar code in the coaching profession borrows from this idea of how to best serve your clients. A coach’s creed is “Allow. Don’t interfere.”
One view of healing according to medical practitioners is our bodies have a tremendous ability to heal on their own. Good medical practice involves combining the bodies’ own ability to heal itself with scientific knowledge and assistance.
Continuing the metaphor between coaching and doctoring, I’ll share one theory of coaching. People have a profound wisdom inside of them, their own ‘north star’ as Martha Beck puts it. In a coaching relationship, the coachee is permitted to access, explore and eventually take action on this master plan which is living inside them waiting to unfold.
By using coaching tools in dialogue (ie. appreciative inquiry, observation and feedback, to name a few) the coachee rediscovers who they are, and where they want to go. It maybe in the form of a dream from long ago surfacing, or a previously unknown talent spontaneously comes to life. Together coach and coachee invent action steps and strategy to continue what develops and establish a new norm…a norm of self-actualized, high vitality living..
All this is possible provided the coach is experienced enough to receive and respond to the subtle cues from their client’s inner wisdom. Good coaching is an elegant and complex dance…a combination of receptivity, patience and firm guidance.
In medicine and in coaching, sometimes intervention and direct confrontation is necessary. For example, when I was pregnant with my twins I told my doctor, Dr. Inga Zilberstein at Lenox Hill Hospital in NYC that I wanted a natural birth. No surgery, no drugs, etc.
She promised we would do it that way if it was possible.
After 24 hours of labor and still no cervical dilation, blood pressure skyrocketing (preclampsia) and signs of distress from the babies (myconeum when the water broke), I said, “Do we need to go to plan ‘B’”?
She said, “Yes, I was just about to suggest that. I’m afraid if we let this go on, the result will not be pretty. We need to do a c-section.”
Thank goodness for her medical skill and excellent bedside manner. My boys were successfully delivered, we were all fine, my dignity was intact and a healthy trust had grown between doctor and patient.
Coaching is similar. There is a time to give encouragement and acceptance to your client, and a time for intervention in the form of the blunt ugly truth (or the scalpel). Tough love, however, does not require rudeness and belligerance (a la Dr. Phil). A masterful coach can determine when a client requires and is ready to be confronted.
Good training ensures a coach will proceed with respect, effectiveness and a light heart, without collateral damage.
(Clue to coaches… your client may obviously be suffering from a belief or behavior, but unless they ASK for feedback, it is not yet time to challenge it. Your challenge will not be well-received, nor will it generate sustainable change. Instead, generate more curiosity first! An effective coach waits to see eagerness and enthusiasm before training.)
So…what is wrong with Dr. Phil?…He’s rude and belligerent, that’s what. Since he is so commercially successful, though, there must be people who like his style. Is this because they really like him, or because there is no alternative? He seems to be the best we’ve got, at least until the coaching profession matures, and more good coaches take the spotlight.
If you are in the market for a coach, make sure your coach is someone who shares your core values. If you don’t like rudeness, criticism and self-righteousness, don’t hire someone like Dr. Phil! Keep looking! There is someone out there who will be a good fit for you and you may not have to go far 😉
If you want to learn more about how to implement coaching tools into your every day dialogues, click here.
PS My doctor never once shouted at me as I lay there terrified on the operating table, “NATURAL DELIVERY HUH….HOW’S THAT WORKIN’ FOR YA??!!” She would have been sooo fired!