Tell someone what life coaching is and it sounds like a scam, especially if you’re talking to an Asian person. My Chinese mother still doesn’t know what I do. The closest she’s gotten is when she mistook me for a counsellor.
For the record, the International Coach Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
In a nutshell, as a coach I believe people are the experts of their own lives and they can come up with their own solutions to problems. I don’t fix, judge, or give advice. I ask questions for the sake of discovery rather than problem-solving. My focus is on getting clients from where they are to the future they want.
In contrast, counsellors tend to spend more time looking into the past, exploring the root of thought and behavioral patterns, and guiding clients towards particular goals. Counsellors may also work in clinical settings while coaches generally do not.
4 questions Asians have about coaching
As a Chinese Canadian life coach who has talked to many confused and suspicious Asian people when I tell them what I do, here are common questions that baffle their minds.
1) Why would I talk to a stranger?
Asian culture is a private one. We do not talk about feelings or problems, ESPECIALLY not to people we don’t know. Dirty laundry is meant to be double bagged and stuffed in the dark corner of a locked closet.
My response: Hiding issues doesn’t mean they don’t exist. When you neglect small things long enough, they can turn into much bigger problems. A coach offers a confidential, safe space for you to process thoughts, feelings, and concerns at your own pace and to the degree that you feel comfortable with. Sometimes saying things out loud and having someone listen makes all the difference.
2) Why would I pay someone when I don’t have a problem?
Asians are frugal and we don’t like to pay for things we don’t need. If there’s no problem to fix, there’s no need to pay! Even if there is a problem, we will tough it out and gain pride from not spending an extra penny on the issue.
My response: While coaches aren’t paid to fix problems, problems are very often fixed in the process. In fact, it is a valuable investment to develop your potential. When you learn new perspectives and strategies, you are more equipped to solve problems of all shapes and sizes, both now and in the future.
3) What do you mean I don’t get advice?
Growing up in an Asian family, advice was passed around like a frisbee at an ultimate match. From when you should go to bed, to what you should study in school, to whether you should pop that pimple – someone always had an opinion and they made sure you heard it.
My response: When you’re used to doing what others say, it is liberating to not get advice. And more importantly, it’s empowering. You begin to develop confidence in your own ideas, abilities, and self worth. An unbiased coach helps you realize that often you don’t need advice, you need to discover your own voice.
4) What do you mean what I want?
Asians traditionally place high importance on maintaining harmony. That means many of us are chronic helpers, people pleasers, and follow the pack-ers. We don’t want to disrupt the harmony of the group, so we put our own needs and wants last.
My response: How is that working out for you? How happy are you? Who are you? This last question can be a tough one to answer when you’re not connected to your own needs and wants. A coach helps you unpack your values from those of your culture. And it’s true, there may be overlap.
The main point is that when you’re more conscious of your values, you can make decisions about your life and career with greater ease and joy. You’re not just being pushed around. Now that sounds pretty great, don’t you think?
Coaching sounds weird – and it is.
I’ve worked with many clients from different cultures who have found coaching to be uncomfortable and awkward because it’s so different from what they are used to. The good news is: they still benefited.
- Found their own voice and used it
- Clarified their personal and professional goals and pursued them
- Learned to say no more powerfully
- Challenged themselves do things that scare them
- Become more confident
Do you want to try?
I’m happy to share a sampler!
First, send me quick message about your issues and/or goals. If coaching might be a fit, we will schedule a free sample session. If we have good chemistry, then we can also talk about coaching options, scheduling, expectations, and if applicable, how my sliding scale rate works.
Every so often, I also offer special sessions that give you a taste of coaching (i.e. not a 3 month commitment 🙌 ) while still giving you valuable learning and action steps. Sign up for my newsletter to receive these limited time offers.