Honey v vinegar

I’ve had a handful of conversations over the past couple of weeks involving motivational approaches to helping others achieve their goals and some of the information I was receiving bothered me. One friend relayed to me that she was berated into quitting smoking when she went to a clinic for help, another told me that her professor said if he was moving too quickly through the chapters in their textbook, she had better figure out a way to catch up because it wasn’t his responsibility to help her understand the material.

I’m not a fan of “The Biggest Loser” tactics—or any challenge-type TV show for that matter—where contestants, i.e., clients, get yelled into submission. (It’s no coincidence that I’m writing my post days after this news story broke.) While I believe in tough love when needed, I also believe it can be delivered in an encouraging way. To berate someone into a behavior change might land them in a temporary state of accommodation, but not necessarily a long-term, sustainable way of being. Ultimately, isn’t the one who benefits from the motivational approach supposed to be the client, not the coach? These power plays irk me and I realize that it’s because I am not a fan of being yelled at, but, perhaps, other people feel differently; that to be accountable for change, they need to be scolded into it.

While I doubt I will change my opinion about this, especially as I coach my clients in my own supportive, encouraging way, I would love to know what others think. Please leave a comment below or e-mail me with your thoughts.

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