Coaching is a two way street and the coaching relationship has to be one of trust, honesty and empathy. I think I was drawn to coaching as a profession because my values are centred around those very things; non judgement, empathy, positive action, community and collaboration.
That being said, coaches are, of course, human beings too. We come to coaching with our own set of experiences and beliefs and those can have an impact on the coaching partnership. My job is to be in a place to be able to put those aside and be completely present with you during the valuable time we have together. I am curious about you. I don't assume that I know you because we have some shared experiences or circumstances. You are the expert in your life; my role is to hold a mirror up to that and explore with you what you see there - empathetically rather than sympathetically. I always like the analogy that empathy is seeing someone in a hole and finding them a ladder so they can climb out by themselves; sympathy would be jumping headfirst into the hole to join them.
When we begin working together I will ask you lots of questions about what you expect from our journey and where you want to end up. Maybe it's a plan for making the first steps towards change, perhaps it's the emotional tools to be confident enough to consider what's next for you. I will ask you what you want from me as your coach and I'll ask this every time we meet. Some sessions might see you feeling in a reflective mood and wanting to explore your thoughts, others you may feel exhilarated and want to move forward with positive action.
I will also be interested to know 'what assumptions do you have of me?' as your coach. Those assumptions might have been formed from a social media post you saw, or it might be because your friend recommended me to you, or maybe it's simply your assumptions of other coaches or the coaching profession as a whole.
When I ask you this I am open to whatever comes back! For me to know helps us both work from a place of equality and partnership, which is exactly what the coaching relationship should be. Neither of us in front, both of us walking the path together to discover and overcome whatever lies ahead.
So although we cannot erase our assumptions of each other we can acknowledge them and use them as a tool in the coaching sessions.