Common Coaching Challenges With Tips For Coaches

If you are excited about coaching others to a better life, then you are much like me and many others at this Academy. Unfortunately not everyone you meet is ready to reap the benefits of coaching.  As a professional, it’s your job to recognize the common coaching challenges and be prepared to deal with them.

Here Are Some Common Coaching Challenges:

(1) If someone’s life is a major mess, they will be very tough to coach because the chaos typically did not occur overnight. Often times unraveling a mess can take as long as it did to create it in the first place.

What makes it even more difficult, is that people are quite impatient these days. They want fast results and sometimes this just isn’t possible because transformation takes time.

(2) Coaching someone in a very good place can be difficult as well because they will be far less motivated to make change. Good can be good enough for many people.

(3) People who complain repeatedly about their lives can be very difficult to coach. How many times do we hear someone complaining about their life situations? And how often do these people voice the same complaints day after day?

Complaining Quote Image - coaching challenges

These folks are looking for validation that they have a problem. That is their goal. Instead of looking for a solution, they want to be acknowledged.

(In coaching, we don't give trophies for problems. Sorry.) 

You'll recognize them because they want to talk about the problem, not actually change anything. For some, their drama has become their identity. Typically these are some of the most change-resistent among us. They can also be skilled manipulators and create enough alarm to draw the unsuspecting into their drama.

This reminds me of a story I heard many years ago about a polar bear at the zoo. Day after day and elderly man would take his grandson on a walk through the zoo. Each time they passed by the polar bear exhibit, they would see a large white polar bear sitting in one spot, with tears rolling down his face.

Finally, curiosity got the best of the man’s grandson and he asked why the polar bear was crying. The grandfather responded that was because the bear was sitting on a tack.

“Why doesn’t he just move?”  inquired the grandson.

polar bear - common coaching challenges

“Because,” replied the grandfather, “The tack hurts him enough to make him cry but not enough to make him move.”

You could say the complainers are like the polar bear. They are uncomfortable enough to complain about their situation but not in enough pain that they would move or take action.

Some people believe that they will feel better if only they can talk about the situation. They really have no intention of doing anything or making any changes. Change would take them to an unfamiliar place, so the uncomfortable known is preferable to the unknown.

People who are unwilling to make any changes or think about things differently are not good candidates for coaching.

If you sense the coachee is emotionally not able to make the needed changes, consider referring them to counseling. It will help them arrive at a healthy place before resuming coaching.

(4) Some people want their coach to solve their problems
The coach’s part is to help their client discover options, select the best one and take actions until they arrive at their goal. It is not the coach’s role to solve someone’s problems for them. Your role is to ask the right questions so the coachee arrives at their own solution.  If you don’t do this, you deprive them of the opportunity to learn, grow and become self-reliant. A coach with integrity is in the business of working themselves out of a job … meaning helping your client to arrive at a place they no longer need you.

Great coaching involves the right kind of communication with the coach doing more listening and the client doing more talking. It involves a partnership built on trust and commitment.

In order for coaching to be successful, three criteria must be met.

The first of these is that the person being coached must be willing to make a change or think about things differently. If not, any effort at coaching them will probably be frustrating and unsuccessful.

The second criteria is that the person being coached must be willing to allow another person, the coach, help them in the process of making change. 

The third criteria is just as important as the first two and you'll find it in the course, where we have more space to delve deeper into this topic.

In order for coaching to be successful, all three criteria must be met. If any one of the three is missing, unfortunately your coaching will likely be a waste of time.

All three criteria are taught in my dual certification, life coach training programs.

Have you been frustrated when trying to coach some people? Learn the secrets to which individuals are coachable and which ones are not ready yet in the Certified Christian Life Coach / Certified Professional Life Coach program. Both the affordable, online, guided version and the 1-to-1, personalized (Premier) versions are open for enrollment.

If you have found some original solutions to your own coaching challenges, please tell us about them in the comments section below.

Copyright 2018 by Leelo Bush, PhD, All rights reserved.


If you have a heart-desire to help others live better lives, I encourage you to visit our courses page so that you can learn how to serve with excellence. Many of our courses offer dual certification so that your credential is valid in Christian/faith arenas as well as secular/business and non-profit.  Find all our courses HERE.

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