The Interpersonal Aspects of Coaching

A well-known athletic coach is criticized for having often belittled those he coached – in particular, he is alleged to have focused on the weight and eating habits of the minors he ostensibly was retained to help. This type of behavior is not effective coaching – it can be destructive and appear as an exploitative effort to attain triumph at any cost. For us, this behavior has no place in the world of coaching in any profession. Regrettably, some individuals who have entered the field of education engage in deliberate cruelty under the guise of “I’m-just-being-honest” or the perennial “hey, gotta be accurate” mantra. Virtually every adult, in every profession, has seen them in action at some point; otherwise civilized people somehow wired to take pleasure in seeing others embarrassed or robbed of dignity. Accuracy in how we help teachers reflect is critical – but deadly if delivered with malice, or perceived as malicious. The effective coach recognizes this very human component of the work, and structures interactions accordingly. Sensitivity to others does not create a duty to be inaccurate or to ignore the problematic; it simply compels fundamental respectfulness.

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