The Paradox of Good Rapport

One of the biggest mistakes I see coaches (and people in general) make is that they’re being too nice. They hesitate to disagree, challenge, confront or otherwise try to avoid the other person feeling uncomfortable. 

I get it, and occasionally I fall in the same trap: We want to connect, create trust, good rapport, a safe space for them to open up to us. And so we match their energy, smile and nod, celebrate their strength and achievements, and generally create a warm, welcoming and positive atmosphere. 

But while that’s really important to some degree, especially at the very beginning, and arguably for some people more than for others… 

…if your client never feels uncomfortable, I can almost guarantee you that they’re missing out. 

I believe that growth often happens in a state of discomfort, when we’re stretching ourselves, leaving our comfort zones. It’s true when we’re going through a physical growth spurt while growing up. And it’s true when we’re growing psychologically or spiritually too. 

If you and your client have an agreement in place that the work you’re doing is meant to help them grow, learn or change, then it’ll be inevitable that some of your questions, reflections, observations or interventions will be difficult to hear. 

And if you’re working with someone quite robust and resilient, they will probably want you to challenge and stretch them as early as you can. Paradoxically, that will be the thing that creates trust and rapport with them, not making them feel cosy and safe. 

I believe that coaching conversations are brave spaces, rather than safe spaces, and I want to leave you with a poem:


Together we will create brave space 

Because there is no such thing as a “safe space” – 

We exist in the real world 

We all carry scars and we have all caused wounds. 

In this space 

We seek to turn down the volume of the outside world. 

We amplify voices that fight to be heard elsewhere, 

We call each other to more truth and love 

We have the right to start somewhere and continue to grow. 

We have the responsibility to examine what we think we know. 

We will not be perfect. 

It will not always be what we wish it to be J

But It will be our brave space together,  


We will work on it side by side.

Micky Scottbey Jones (heavily plagiarising Beth Strano – though I did like the lines that Micky added, so decided to share this version with you)

If you’d like to enter a brave space, I’m here for you!
And thank you very much if you’re holding space for others!
I appreciate you.

With Love

New content: How to work with metaphors in coaching? TaC#67

Metaphors can be a powerful way to unlock your clients’ thinking and progress in a coaching session. In this episode of Talking about Coaching I discuss how to work with metaphors in coaching with my resident TaC coaches Nicki Drab and Siawash Zahmat. After our last episode on metaphors had somewhat blown up on YouTube, we decided to revisit the topic, but this time from the angle on how to work with our clients, rather than how to illustrate what coaching entails. 

You can listen to this episode or watch it on YouTube

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