“Can’t you just tell me what to do?”, the client said with some exasperation and some in jest.

I smiled, understanding very well how we all at times would like someone to just tell us what to decide. Who of us has not stood metaphorically at the fork of two paths, wondering which one to choose. Especially when we already have endlessly tossed the options back and forth in our heads without gaining more significant clarity. We delay, procrastinate, hesitate, stand still…

It can be tempting to answer the client’s request. Some people deeply trust our wisdom and experience… However, giving advice as a first response tends not to be helpful:

  • You may be blamed if your advice does not turn out well
  • It won’t develop their ability and confidence to make good decisions. They learn less.
  • Even worse, taking choice away by ‘making a choice’ for another, or giving advice, can create dependence. 
  • It can ‘clip their wings’: they won’t live to their full potential. 

You always want them to engage their thinking! Therefore it is always more helpful to first respond with questions and wait for their insight about the decision. You can find some ideas in this downloadable worksheet (or here in German – vielen Dank, Joachim F.!). It includes a fun tool (on page 2) you can apply in your coaching conversations that focus on decision making. 

If you want to be more helpful, then facilitate a reflective conversation where your client deepens their awareness and gains insight. Aim to empower them rather than help fix a problem.

On another note: congratulations to the two readers who won the free passes to the WBECS Coaching Summit 2020. Due to privacy laws, I won’t mention their names. And thank you everyone who also shared the sign up link with friends and colleagues.

Two opportunities:


Let’s love people well!

Have a good week,


Photo by Vladislav Babienko on Unsplash