Searching the Internet I realized that, surprisingly enough, there is a lot of confusion between coaching and consulting, especially when related to career evolution. The outcome of such a confusion is definitely negative for YOU, the client, as, instead of finding the answers within, hence making a real and successful change, you are being fed solutions out of which you have to choose the one that best appears to solve the current situation.
To start with, in the case of consulting, you do not get the chance to search for the origin of the crisis, but rather you are being told why it happened and are being given a couple of solutions to choose from. The end choice is yours, but the generator of the solution is the consultant.
I have confused you completely, haven’t I? Well, let me put it in a simpler way:
A consultant is a person who gives professional or expert advice. By definition, advice is an opinion or recommendation offered as a guide to action, whilst coaching is somehow the exact opposite. All coaching should offer is the proper environment for you to search inside and personally find the solutions that work and can be followed in order to solve the problem and achieve personal best potential.
Still not very clear, right? Let me transfer it into a real life example:
As mentioned before, the main aim of coaching is “building awareness, responsibility, I recently coached a lovely young woman who limited herself from trying new foods for the fright that she might be allergic to something.
When I asked her whether she had ever had an episode of allergic reactions or whether she had herself tested for allergies she simply answered “No”. Still, for no apparent reason, she imposed a limit on herself, which stopped her from experiencing and enjoying the wonders of different cuisines.
Let’s analyze the two angles:
A consultant, most probably, after listening to her description of the issue, would have advised her to get herself tested for allergies and then, in the case of a negative response, start challenging herself to try different dishes, step by step.
As a coach, I guided her to self-discovering that she imposed a baseless limitation on herself and helped her realize (through guided questioning) that this limitation unconsciously applies to other aspects of her life.
I thus created AWARENESS, which after a few sessions led her to create a Plan of Action to overcome the real issue that surfaced as a fear of adverse reactions to new challenges. Just as Curly Martin rightfully says in The Life Coaching Handbook: “Many people choose to stay in the prison of self-image, self-beliefs and self-talk. All it takes to escape from your mentally created prison is your decision to change.”
It’s kind of clear now, isn’t it?
Probably the most obvious difference between consulting and coaching is the fact that consulting deals with the issue as it appears to be, whilst coaching goes to the root of the issue, which most of the time proves to be very different from what the issue appears to be, therefore raising the client’s AWARENESS. Awareness has the great attribute of emphasizing the unique characteristics of the body and mind of each individual; whilst at the same time building the ability and the confidence to improve without someone else’s instruction.
Clearly, the results of the coach are more successful and longer lasting, which brings me to another very important aspect of the difference between the two: success of the outcome!
Whilst with advising, the success of the results should be visible in a short amount of time, the reality is different. In the long run change doesn’t really happen, as the client is not responsible for the solution, the consultant is. I am sure it has happened to you more than once that you were given a piece of advice, followed it, but were totally unsatisfied with the result. Most probably, after one or two such pieces of advice, you sat down, gave it a good thought, followed your decision and ended up happy with your result. What happened there was self-coaching!
You looked inside yourself where all the answers are. Unfortunately, we would rather try other people’s solutions, hope they work for us and also blame them for the failure. The beauty of coaching is that you are the one who discovers the core problem and identifies one or more solutions; therefore you also accept the responsibility for both actions. The OUTCOME then belongs to you; hence you become the bearer of the LONG-TERM SUCCESS as well!
Over time successful outcome leads to building and cementing self-confidence, which would then lead you to achieving your best potential, thus reaching the utter scope of coaching.
However, coaching and consulting are not on opposite planets!
One obvious similarity I would point out is listening. Both approaces rely heavily on listening. What each specialist does with the information received sets the differences between the two. You must always remember the fact that you and only you have the answer to the hard question that comes to mind: Which way should I go?
Well, after reading my article I hope your choice became clearer and you have found enough reasons to act somehow and take responsibility for your growth path! If yes you can definitely contact me here!