Coaching <=> Mentoring


I get frustrated with lack of understanding and discrimination between coaching and mentoring. I've met people who will argue what one person says is coaching is really mentoring and vice versa. We really need to agree the two are similar and that the details of the relationship are contracted, to know what will actually happen

Again recently I found myself caught up in a contradictory exchange on the topic which managed to divert the intention of the conversation which was that non-directive conversation is better for learning. (If you're in the camp that thinks coaching, possibly due to the influence of sports coaching is directive, then I recommend reading the Inner Game of Tennis by Timothy Galwey where feedback is more like data than directive advice. Direction in coaching is like many aspects of the relationship, negotiatable.)


There are two problems with my preference for non-directiveness. One is answering the question how can anyone learn something from their own direction if they don't yet know it. Another is that telling people things is apparently quicker.

Those who promote non-directive conversation base their approach on the fact that adults learn best when they figure things out for themselves. Yes they might need to go get information, but them deciding to and then seeking out that information has a better chance of sustained learning than telling and testing, which has been our traditional education model.

Investing in the time to encourage others to learn is a longer term strategy and telling someone to use a tool this way in this situation is a faster way to get an immediate job done. The trouble is when the situation slightly modifies the tool operator might not think of the risks or other consequences of carrying out the learned situation. Phishing has capitalised on our ignorance of what can happen if we unthinkingly click on web-links. Conscious and critical thinking is something essential for us all to learn in many different scenarios. Learning is a life-long occupation.


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