3 Things Employees Never Want to Hear from their Internal Career Coach

Do you coach employees who want to get promoted…but aren’t?

Frustration, anger, confusion, worry can begin to plague the employee. When people are experiencing these emotions, there are a few things they do NOT want to hear!

Such as,

  • “Just be patient”
  • “You just need to network more”
  • “Think about it from the hiring manager’s perspective”

Although these three comments (e.g., pieces of advice) may, indeed, be important, they may not be helpful. So what’s a coach to do?

Exercise Compassion

  • Notice your response to the situation separately from the employee’s response to the situation. When we keep ourselves out of the fight-flight zone, we don’t exacerbate the situation.
  • Think/feel “compassion” versus “crisis.” Compassion allows us to be more present, engaged, and intuitive about how to be and what to say. (Note: The Center for Compassion and Altruism Research at Stanford University and other compassion researchers note that different neural networks light up in the brain when we focus on compassion vs crisis/problem-solving; we are more strategic and big-picture oriented with the former, and more problem/threat-oriented with the latter.)
  • If you are silently making negative judgments, such as, “this guy is really over-reacting,” bring yourself back to compassion by silently saying to yourself something like, “this is really important to him; he’s doing the best he can at this moment; he’s come in to talk about it, which is a good thing.”
  • A simple acknowledgement can be helpful, e.g.,: “I hear the weight of this. You were really counting on that position coming through.”

Never Resist the Resistance

Resist the urge to cover over, tamp down, or ignore the emotions!

  • “I hear the frustration, and I’m not going to tell you to ignore it. That emotion is a signal to pay attention to, so that you can do something constructive from it.”
  • “Frustration is often a sign that we feel like we don’t have control… [and later ask] which elements of this CAN you control?”

Ask Questions

  • “What do you NOT want to hear right now?”
  • “What do you need to be your best right now?”
  • “What’s the difference between responding to this and reacting to this for you?”
  • “How do you want to move forward?”

The next time you encounter frustration, anger, or other negative emotions from a coaching client, resist the temptation to cover over, tamp down, or ignore the emotions!

Certainly, don’t leave the client wallowing in negativity, but as part of the process, recognize that these emotions can be valuable “data points” that can be clues for how to move forward!


Interested in more ideas like these for coaching employees? Our next Certified Career & Talent Development Coach program starts Thursday, Feb. 25th.








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