Why accepting you’re not always 100% honest could be the key to being an honest coach…

I’ve been thinking about the role honesty plays in coaching interactions and particularly how we could get to a position where we can be 100% honest with someone.

What I found useful was to first understand why we might not be 100% honest (rather than being dishonest which for me is different) and I think this is mostly about the uncertainty we feel about how someone might react and in particular…

  • How effective we are in getting some positive action from the subsequent conversation
  • The longer-term negative impact on their motivation and confidence
  • If they then talk about you behind your back and undermine team performance
  • When other interactions then go from friendly to frosty which feels awkward
  • Dealing with strong emotions – someone gets angry, quiet, defensive or REALLY upset

With this in mind, I think it’s important to ask yourself – am I being less than honest because there are certain reactions I struggle to deal with (from the list above or any others) and this lack of ability leads me to being less effective in delivering tough feedback?

If the answer to that question is no (!!) then what could be another reason? But if it might be a yes, then what I found useful was to have a clear focus on feedback as part of how I build relationships and try different approaches to work out how each individual reacts to different levels of honesty. This takes time but will help you get closer to a place where 100% honesty is the thing that drives performance.

This only works if you commit to identify the areas you find hardest to deal with (more than likely how to deal with their initial reaction..) and work on those. But the good news is that as humans we all crave feedback so you should have no lack of opportunity to practice!

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