Helping People Change

Have you ever tried to help a friend? Taught a child a sport? Or consulted a colleague through a difficult decision? Did they make the change you thought they needed and did they sustain the change?

Upon several occasions after I’ve coached someone, things did not always go the way I thought they should. When you try to help solve another person’s problem, sometimes they can get a little defensive or become less open to new ideas.

Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten call this approach “coaching for compliance” in their book, Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for lifelong learning and Growth.

They recommend a different approach.

The authors suggest a more scientifically successful method called “coaching with compassion.” Most people want to fix a person or problem, but the better option is to connect with them, find out what their vision is, what inspires them, what are their dreams and goals — according to the book’s authors. If you draw from this energy, and their vision and dreams, you will “help them move closer to their ideal self.”

This book is a guide to help coaches learn valuable lessons to support the people they are coaching. The authors share both realistic, engaging stories and evidence-based original research that help those being coached think creatively and grow in meaningful ways. At the end of each chapter, probing questions and thoughtful exercises are presented that encourage self-reflection that will support someone with their ability to change.

If you are a parent, teacher, sports coach, in business management or in a leadership position, and you want to support or coach someone, you might want to pick this book up first. It will help you guide them to what is possible within their lives, support them in taking the proper action and help them determine a path to achieve their aspirations.


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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.