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....and many other thoughts about facilitation, coaching ( teams & individuals) and learning


  • David

She Helps But She Does Not Care

I once heard a kid commenting another person as ‘She helps but she does not care’. What an insightful remark from a 10-year old! There is indeed a subtle difference between ‘helping’ and ‘caring’, but not always being noticed.

Such difference is particular important in intimate relationship or in the helping business like therapy and coaching. The intensity of exchange makes caring (or the lack of it) easily noticeable. In addition, the feeling of being truly cared for is momentous to the ‘success’ in these situations.

Zoom into the coaching situation – What does it mean when we say a coach is helping but not caring (or making coachee feel enough caring)? We are helping in the sense we are genuinely working hard in the session, but not entirely (or even largely) out of caring the person. Our mind / being could be occupied by:

- our attempt to learn a new tool / process, even on how to be more empathetic… ironically

- our desire to be liked

- our fear of not getting repeated business.

I believe such suboptimal being often happens in just a moment and out of our own awareness.

Read also my previous post ‘Just the Person’ reflecting on the argument that coaching relationship is matters more than methods.

So what? A few considerations here. First, win a lottery so that you do not need the coaching business economically! Kidding aside… if one can build financial buffer before becoming a coach or have a stable side income, it will help the coach less distracted away from simply caring the coachee.

Second, we need to strengthen our ‘caring muscle’. I find it useful to ask myself before each session ‘What in this person makes me care about him / her?’. But also in a general sense as well – it is useful to get in touch with our caring state of mind. My supervisor once asked me ‘How are you like when you are with your kids?’ What an excellent question!

Lastly, it goes back self-awareness i.e. our ability to catch ourselves when we operate out of caring stuff other than the person in front of you. This requires continuous inner work.

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