Why Skeptical

There are many definitions and uses of the word “skepticism”; I like the one in Wikipedia.

“Skepticism or scepticism is generally a questioning attitude or doubt towards one or more putative instances of knowledge which are asserted to be mere belief or dogma.”

Being questioning (a skeptic) is a defence against propaganda, spin and dogma, skepticism is a virtue shared by realists, freethinkers and those seeking truth.
So I think skeptically about coaching and my role as a coach, and encourage my coachees to do the same. There is much nonsense pedalled in the world of coaching. Coaching will not make you taller or better looking. There are no magic coaching methods that solve all ills. Unfortunately there are coaches, and coaching organisations, promoting methods that have no evidence base. This skeptical coach occasionally wonders if an activity which should be about doing good has been hijacked by business, consideration of fee earning, returns on investment and non-evidence-based hocus-pocus.

Skepticism can be seen to be negative, not believing anything, however think of it as not being credulous, believing anything! A healthy demand for evidence, critique of assertions, and confidence in one’s ability to sift competing claims and come to one’s own opinion is part of doing better in any sphere. I think that coaching is a worthwhile thing to do, and that there is value in being coached. I hope my coaching encourages healthy skepticism.

Coaching is about supporting people to do better, coaches are not experts who tell an individual what to do, they are facilitators of thinking and learning. Individuals often have the answer to their questions or problems, but they may need help to find the answer, or to find useful external resources. So coaching is often about “reframing”, about helping someone to see an issue differently …. so perhaps there is a place for skepticism (and stoicism) in coaching.

There are 11,
or maybe 15,
or even 31

Types of Coaching !

Research suggest that the most important of characteristics and behaviours of a coach are:

Their expertise and skills
Their experience particularly psychological understanding and domain knowledge.
A positive mindset, authenticity, learning facilitations, understanding context.

Active ingredients in executive coaching: A systematic literature review C Pandolfi – International Coaching Psychology Review, 15, 6-30 2020

The quality of the research underlying these statements is moderate – however it is the best we have. It does suggest that a good coach needs to know something and have experience. Simply being adept at non-directive questioning is not enough. So, when choosing a coach find out what they have done. Find out what they understand.      And enjoy the search.