3 Tips to Being More Coachable

I can say pretty straight up that I don’t like being told what to do. Never have. I recognized this pretty early on. I’ve hung out with spite thanks to the times I’ve done the EXACT OPPOSITE of what it was suggested I do. “Independent Thinker, occasional Rogue” was how I liked to think of myself. But this attitude didn’t serve me well when someone was trying to coach me for my own good. Friends, co-workers, bosses. They all tried to help me because despite this flaw, for some reason, they found me otherwise quite likeable. In my early 20’s, I hung onto this like an honorable badge. I KNEW I was taking the hard way, but felt that was noble for some reason.

When I reached my 30’s, I began to realize the value of coaching. With each wall I hit, either personally, or professionally, I found that I could adjust something in myself which would then either lower the wall, or give me what I needed to climb over it. The secret to this: I started listening to what people were saying to coach me. When I really took the time to listen, I began to realize I had been hearing many of the same things from various people for YEARS. Yup…that’s the painful truth. In my case, I could give the impression that I was defiant, argumentative, or non-compliant. This doesn’t fare well in any relationship, personal or professional.

What gets tricky is you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater (terrible idiom). While I didn’t want to be seen as defiant, argumentative, or non-compliant as a general rule, there were good qualities to be found within those as well. This is where good coaching comes in. There are plenty of people around us who truly want the best for us and can share some perspective that we can’t see. Here are the top 3 things you need to do to become more coachable:

  • Listen – Be willing to listen when someone takes the time to share how you may be perceived. It doesn’t mean their perception is everyone’s reality, but it is theirs and it may have some accuracy. This doesn’t always feel good. Accept that the criticism might sting, but if you trust the source as someone who is truly trying to help you, that should make it a little easier to bear. Try not to get defensive, or explain yourself. Just take it in and process it.
  • Try it on – Does that perception fit? Can you see where others COULD perceive you that way? Can you see the truth in it? Have you heard this same message before from others? Knowing that others may have that perception, determine if this is a perception you do or don’t want others to have of you, based on your goals and aspirations.
  • Adjust – How could you “turn it down” enough to improve the perception without eliminating the good parts? Here’s an example: I have a very playful personality. While it seems most appreciate this, there are some that find it downright annoying. I try to adjust this when I’m in mixed company. I don’t turn it all the way down, just a tad, but it’s something I need to remain conscious of. I don’t mind being seen as “playful,” but I don’t want to be seen as a “clown.” See the difference?

It’s not always easy to be coached, but it’s always beneficial. Seek out feedback from people you trust and respect. Not just the ones who will tell you how awesome you are (which you are), but also from those who will be honest about potential flaws. One thing to keep in mind is that we judge ourselves based on our INTENTIONS, however, we judge others based on their BEHAVIOR. That means people aren’t judging us on our intentions (they don’t even know what those are), they can only judge us by our behaviors (which they can clearly see).

Also, remember we may lead with different qualities depending on which role we are in. For example, I have different roles: mom, leader, friend, co-worker, business owner. I allow different qualities to lead in each of those roles. In my earlier example, I can allow my playfulness to be full-on when I’m in the mom & friend role, but need to turn it down in the leader role. You serve many roles as well, so bear that in mind for yourself.

Your turn to do some coaching. Which of the 3 tips have you found most useful, or what’s another tip you have to help us all to be more coachable? Share in the comments.

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email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 


  1. April, this is such a powerful post, and it is so full of good advice. really.. it is so important to look at ourselves.. and really look objectively and with constructive criticism. It is a sure way to improve. I also feel what you say about stepping into the different roles – I struggle with this one at times myself and then after the fact I wonder what I could have done differently, or better. Thank you for giving me much food for thought today.

  2. I do believe that listen is a very useful tip, and it is always important to keep our mind open and learn from the others. If we heard the same suggestions from others, we can try it on. It is important to trust the collective intellectual of other people.

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