How To Coach With Compassion For Lifelong Learning


“Helping others is a good thing, but even the most well-intentioned attempts can be undermined by a simple truth: We almost always focus on “fixing” people – correcting problems or filling the gaps between where they are and where we think they should be. Unfortunately, this doesn’t inspire sustained learning or positive change. Even when people do respond, they often do so out of obligation rather than motivation,” explain the authors of the new book, Helping People Change: Coaching With Compassion For Lifelong Learning AndGrowth.

The authors, Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith and Ellen Van Oosten, teach that the most effective way to help people learn and change is to connect to a positive vision of themselves, or to an inspiring dream they’ve long held.
  • Having a personal vision is one of the most powerful ways to engage neurologically and emotionally. Plus, great coaches know that people draw energy from their visions and dreams, and that same energy sustains their efforts to change, even through difficult times.
“A person’s vision is her image of a possible future. It is not a goal or a strategy. It consists of neither actions nor obligations. It is not a forecast of what is likely. It is a dream! Put simply, a person’s vision is an expression of an individual’s ideal self and ideal future. It encompasses dreams, values, passions, purpose, sense of calling, and core identity,” explain the authors.

The coaching with compassion method is based on five steps for intentional change, which the authors teach in the book using rich, inspiring and real-life stories and science-based, heavily researched exercises. And, this type of coaching is different from mentoring, which can sometimes last over decades. Whereas, coaching typically involves a shorter time period and a more specific focus.

Key to achieving transformational impact using a vision-based approach versus a problem-focused approach is the connection between the coach and the person being coached, and it needs to be positive and mutually shared. Both the coach and the person being helped must have positive mutual regard for each other, share a commitment to their relationship, and benefit equally from their engagement and interactions. Such relationships help foster openness to learning and change.

Finally, the authors explain that there are three basic approaches to offering coaching services in organizations:
  1. Encourage and train staff to peer coach in pairs or teams.
  2. Train managers and executives to provide coaching to their direct reports and maybe even peers.
  3. Provide access to internal or external coaches (people professionally trained as coaches and typical certified by some professional group).
Add this book to your must-read list, particularly if you are trying to help someone and it just isn’t working.

And, thank you to the book's three authors!

Richard Boyatzis

Melvin Smith

Ellen Van Oosten

Thank you to the book's publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.

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