Calling out the BS on Coaching

Last year I tried a few new things.

I put myself out there when it came to launching my emotional intelligence program and I paid for some different coaching programs to help me build this element of myself along the way.

What I realised is that while I adore the world of personal and professional development, it is just like any other industry. It’s got the good, the bad and the ugly, and I’m going to call it out by sharing an experience with you.

I’m not doing this to cast any kind of bad light on the industry, if anything I want you to create more discernment in yourself. So that even if you do buy a program or pay for a coach that you can see that they are only human too and at the end of the day it’s up to you to lead your personal and professional development and pay for what you want to. Rather than getting roped into paying for a service that you don’t want/isn’t right for you for the benefit of lining another persons pockets.

The experience I had was on a coaching program where I was pushed to do a variety of things that pushed me out of my comfort zone – doing lots of online videos, putting myself ‘out there’ and opening up my social media profiles. At the time I resisted this because, if like me, you’ve opened up your profile before, you’ll know that a load of random people start intruding in your life. It’s exposing and unpleasant.

However, I trusted this process and went ahead.

What happened was that an abundance of men started posting sleazy comments on my wall and sending me inappropriate and rude messages – I actually received a dick pic sketch, now that’s a first. I’d love to say that I didn’t let this get to me, but it did.

I felt dirty and I felt cheap.

There I was expressing my thoughts and talking about the emotional intelligence tools that had helped me and being openly vulnerable about myself and my experiences, and here were all these unconscious leachy men scouring the internet for a cheap hit, and I was it.

I mean, I get it. We’re at a state of world evolution where men have ruled until now and somehow a lot of guys think these kind of tactics are successful when it comes to getting laid or even getting a wife. (Note to men – self check on this, has it ever actually worked? Think about that.)

Anyho, this wasn’t actually my issue. In fact I expected this as I’ve opened my profile before and the exact same thing happened. What I didn’t expect was the reaction of my coach. A person who I had opened up to, allowed to hold my space while I grow and become vulnerable with.

This continued to happen and I was asked to continue to pursue and ‘trust the process’ even though every part of my instinct told me that it wasn’t right for me. And of ALL the things that I’ve learnt and that I teach it’s to listen to your instinct, but here I was ignoring mine because I thought that this coach clearly knew more than me.

After a while the coach approached me and asked me about the whole situation, and of course I got upset. I felt exposed, I’d been doing daily videos, receiving daily dick pics in my inbox and I felt like it was my fault.

This is the moment when I was pitched an expensive therapy session by the coach, that was suggested because it seemed like I needed it, rather that it being the methods of coaching that weren’t suiting me.

When I said I’d think about it because I wanted to talk to my boyfriend first I was told there wasn’t many slots available and that I should make the decision on my own.

The thing is that I very almost handed over my credit card details, because I was coming from a place of ‘I’m broken and I need to be fixed’ and ‘Obviously my subconscious is littered with more trauma that I’m not even aware of’. When the reality is that this whole thing was a perfectly scripted pitch that even the most aware of people get caught into – it’s the NLP push-pull technique of selling. I recognised this when I reflected on it because I know quite a lot about NLP, having had a father who was a practioner because he used it to help the grieving family members of his cancer patients (not to sell his own product, which is what I’m clearly against here). I also recognised it a second time when we were taught the very same technique in the ‘how to sell to clients session’ in the coaching program the following week.

I won’t go into all of it but there is a specific script and what it’s aimed to do is push and pull a client from one end of their emotional spectrum to the other, to the point where they’re a little disorientated. Then there’s a focus on creating urgency within the client after you’ve already pushed them into the undesired feeling of what their life will be like if ‘nothing ever changes’. Then it’s time to pitch your product or service which is clearly the only solution to this problem, and you ask them to hand over their credit card details.

Simples.

Manipulative.

And something I strongly disagree with when used by coaches or therapists.

The worst of it is that us coachees on this program were being told that we are here to serve these clients so it’s imperative that we ‘guide’ (what they actually meant was manipulate) the client through the purchasing journey. To me this is even worse because as trainee coaches we were being told that to do this was okay and justified because we’re ‘helping’ our client in the long run  – completely sidelining the fact that by pushing a sale we’re actually disempowering them because we’ve taken away their conscious choice.

Now if you are learning how to sell products and services, and this method feels authentic to you, great, continue doing it.

However, if you are learning this technique to sell a service that involves some kind of relationship element, like coaching or counselling I’d ask you to question your values on this.

Are we empowering our client if we use our greater awareness to ‘guide’ them into that relationship?

Is it empowering as a client to be pushed and pulled into a state of vulnerability so we make a decision that we might not have made otherwise?

Personally, I don’t agree with this method and I disengaged with my whole coaching program after that. I don’t believe that this kind of manipulation is okay and I don’t want to be part of it. That might mean that I never get my coaching business off the ground but I’ll take that chance to keep my values intact.

I told my coach what I thought directly. Clearly we disagreed and she assured me that she was acting in the best of intentions, and I believe that she was. She’s a kind hearted person who is genuinely trying to help people, and she does a great job of it too. But she was probably taught that this method is the way to build a business and never questioned it whereas I do.

This way of teaching coaches to start these relationships with vulnerable clients upsets me. It’s inauthentic, it’s disempowering and it’s creating flocks and flocks of sheep following the heard without questioning, the same way religion did and the same way new age spirituality does.

Whereas I want people to become empowered by becoming more descerning.

I want people to join my program if they believe it’s right one for them and it’s the right time for them.

I want them to call me out if they think I’m acting out of my ego – so I can become more aware and better as a coach, and they can start to trust their own instinct more.

I want us to be on a level playing field where I can hold space for them while they learn, because I don’t believe that anyone in life should be held on a pedestal.

Most of all I want us all to get to a state of empowerment where we are unmoved by these tricks of subtle manipulation.

I’m on a mission to create a greater sense wellbeing for ourselves and the planet that we live on. To teach others how to connect authentically with themselves, so they can connect authentically with others. It starts with learning self-awareness, maintaining a strong value system that serves us, and having the emotional intelligence to move through a whole spectrum of emotions so we can connect without attachment.

If you want the EQ tools to master your emotions and life an empowered life then, sign up to my newsletter for monthly insider tips on how to do this. My subscribers get access to free tutorials and are the first to know about exlusive offers on my Empower Yourself Program. If you’ll like to find out more about the workshops, training and tailored coaching packages I offer, head over to www.shereensoliman.com. 

With Absolutely No Bull Sh*t, Shereen x

Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash