I believe that my friend was right to ask for thinking time, even though the offer sounded enticing. Coaching (and mentoring) are often mentioned to individuals as possible /available interventions, but unless the recipient is willing and on board with the whole idea, they are unlikely to work at all.
Sometimes coaching is even imposed on people as a result of their (inadequate??) performance, or to help them achieve certain objectives (e.g. promotion) but even when the rational is totally positive (as in the case of a promotion) people still need to agree to work with a coach and fully understand what is involved! This is because the relationship with a coach can be quite personal, intense and often emotionally engaging, thus individuals who are being coached must be ready for it and welcoming it!
So, whether you are thinking of hiring a coach to support you in achieving your aims, or whether a coach is being suggested to you by somebody else (most likely via work) here are three important questions to ask yourself to decide whether you will benefit from and enjoy the experience.
Question #1 - To what extent do I happily communicate with others?
Communication flows are at the core of any coaching relationships. Unless you are a good communicator, or you are prepared to work on your communication skills, coaching will not work! So to benefit from a coaching or indeed mentoring intervention be prepared to open up, discuss matters that are important to you but also listen carefully and actively. Also, be prepared to take and act on feedback. This can be even ore daunting at times as it supposes that your conversations will focus on strengths but also on weaknesses or areas for improvement (even when the intervention is meant to support you in achieving a promotion or other positive steps, as ultimately it is about personal and professional development!)
If all of the above does not sound like you; if you generally keep to yourself and do not share ideas; if you are out of your comfort zone receiving feedback, you will most likely struggle to maintain a positive coaching relationship!
Question #2 - To what extent am I willing to talk openly and honestly about myself?
In a coaching (and, as I keep on repeating, mentoring) relationship not only do we need to communicate and open up about about important and sometimes delicate matters, but we need to do that while staying honest and transparent about them too. Basically, there is no point in forging the truth when in a coaching relationship because that will firstly, stop the relationship working to the client's benefit and secondly, an experienced coach is likely to pick up on many others non verbal signs. Naturally there are areas that at the outset can be identified as not open for discussion. But my experience - especially with women - is that women tend to open up totally and 'bear their soul' and this is how they obtain the greatest and most positive of impacts from a coaching/ mentoring relationships. You could say that being highly emotionally intelligent will contribute to make coaching more effective!
Question #3 To What Extent Do I Invest In My Personal and Professional Development?
Whether you are paying yourself or your company is sustaining the coaching coast, the point is that you will invest a lot in this relationship. Your emotions, energy and time are all key part of this investment! So let's sure you maximise the returns on it.
If you'd rather spend your cash on something that, apparently at least, will have an immediate impact, or provide an immediate boost to you - think of a new business suit or an expensive hair cut - there is nothing wrong with that, but you may not be suited to coaching or mentoring as their impact won't be instantaneous nor will it provide a 'quick fix'.
I hope I have put my points across clearly. I am passionate about what mentoring and coaching can deliver and believe in them enormously. But there are many ways in which we can learn and develop and if you chose to go this way it must be because you are totally convinced of the value it brings to you.
Do feel free to share your views. I hope this has - if nothing else - has helped you clarify what you need and whether coaching is right for you!