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How Is Coaching Different From Other Professions?

Source |erickson.edu | Agnieszka Rychlewska

In my last article, I defined the very foundation of coaching. First of all, thanks to everyone who read, commented, liked or shared the article and highlighted some new insights – very appreciated!

As promised, today’s article will explore the similarities and differences between coaching and other professions related to personal development. To simplify the explanation, I will use a visual that I was inspired to create based on my coach training received at Erickson and am happy to publish with their kind permission.

The visual is a simple two-dimensional coordinate system. The vertical axis represents a span between “asking questions” and its opposite: “giving advice”. The second dimension is showed on the horizontal axis and reaches from “analyzing problems” to “creating solutions”.

Based on that visual, we can locate each of the professions along the axes, pointing out the similarities but also differences between them. Let me highlight some:

  • While both coaching and counseling are primarily “asking questions”, the questions in counseling are rather designed to “analyze problems” and in coaching to “create solutions”;
  • While both coaching and training are meant to “create solutions”, coaching is doing it while “asking questions”; and training rather by “giving advice”;
  • While coaching and mentoring can be very close to each other, mentoring is more often about “giving advice” than coaching.

Certainly, the visual does not cover all the different aspects of each profession and there are always exceptions, but organizing the professions in that simple way is usually a good starting point.

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