Your coaching call is going well and suddenly the clients says: “Is there a washing machine or something near you. The noise is breaking my concentration.”
Indeed, you are sitting near a grandfather clock. You don’t even notice that the sound is there. To you it is just part of the background; an ambient noise that is always there.
“Oh,” you say. “Let me move to another room.” The distraction is taken care of and the phone call can continue.
There are many things that could reduce the possibility of the client and/or the coach being fully present during the coaching conversation. Look at the below examples and see if any might relate to your coaching experience.
- The coach breathes continually into the microphone and creates an annoying sound.
- The coach’s dog keeps on barking.
- The coach keeps on talking about himself.
- The coach tells long stories.
- The coach feels the need to evangelize and often quotes scriptures.
- The client washes her dishes during the call.
- The client uses the word “like,” like, four times, like, in, like, every sentence.
- The client curses often and takes the Lord’s name in vain
- The client speaks about her lifestyle which is in stark contrast to the coach’s biblical principles.
- The client often makes reference to ethnic practices that are repulsive to the coach.
As you can see in these examples, there is a potential for showing a lack of cultural sensitivity. If you were to discontinue the coaching relationship due to the client’s behaviors of such, you might be being discriminatory. You should know what the law of God – as well as the law of Man – has to say about unfair practices and unfair rejection. There is a line that can be crossed when accepting or rejecting a client’s offensive act. This is a fussy line. It can move quickly from something that is annoying and distracting to something that is discriminatory.
The ethical coach knows what bothers him. He knows what boundaries cannot be crossed. He also knows what social and cultural biases might be influencing the coaching relationship.
The most professional way to handle distractions is to discuss the problem openly and as early as possible. For example, if the client is prone to drop the “f-bomb” frequently, you might mention that you would prefer to keep the conversation’s vocabulary at a more professional level. By the same token, if the client frequently talks about same-sex encounters, you might need to mention your un-comfortability with such topics. Part of being professional is being fully present for the client. Equally professional is knowing how to remove yourself from things that create insurmountable distractions. Any deliberate shift in the relationship imposed by the coach should be one with great sensitivity for the client’s culture and deep respect for the laws of God and the laws of the Land.
If you would like to discuss this, or any other ethics topic, please contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
About the Author:
Michael J Marx, MBA, EdD, PCC, CPCC. Michael is an ICF Professional Certified Coach specializing in business coaching and corporate consultation. Dr. Marx currently serves as the leader of the ICF ‘Global Community of Practice on Ethics.’ He also serves on the ICF Independent Review Board and on the Ethics Code Review Team. Additionally, he is a past-president of Christian Coaches Network International and the author of Ethics and Risk Management for Christian Coaches (2016). He is also currently launching an initiative to inform coaches about suicide intervention called Coaches4Hope.