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Coaching for Healthy Relationships

Apr 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Life Coaching - Guest Posts, [None]

As Christian coaches, we are blessed with some awesome truths. We have a relational God. Who loves us abundantly as His children. God chose us before the foundations of the world, rather than the other way around. God is with us (Immanuel). God offers His only Son to be our Savior and Lord. God provides His indwelling Spirit to be our daily Guide. Yes, our relational God has designed us to be with Him and to glorify Him forever. I can feast on that spiritual food to nourish my soul daily and never tire of it!

Life coaches can share this truth and blessings of our relational God with the people we coach either directly or indirectly. Jesus gave us great commandments as the foundations and standards to live by: To love God with all our soul, our heart, our mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Our God in three persons, the blessed Trinity, wants full relationship with us, as we also love others and love ourselves in healthy connections. What God designed and intends for good, the Evil one would tear asunder and destroy.

Today’s statistics show a dismal picture of broken marriages, conflict at work, and churches in decline because of our failure to work as individuals and as a community on our relationships.

In a recent sermon the speaker, Dr. Dave Waller, shared the Master’s design for relationships through a simple model, which has implications for our interactions with all kinds of people. He demonstrated that in any relationship we have three options: (a) to turn toward the other person/s, (b) to turn away from them, or (c) to turn against them.

As we study these behaviors, think about the impact of each set of demonstrated beliefs and behaviors. Which approach is life giving and growth producing? Which is life draining? Which is life destroying? Examine the three choices through the two lenses of a coach and of a person being coached. Process this information so that you can have a “takeaway” that is applicable in your own life and work.

Turning toward others (an act of love):

If we turn toward other people, we engage with them, are attentive, and show that we value them as children of God made in His image. We focus on listening and understanding their points of view. We use language that “builds up” and explores, rather than tears down. We comfortably maintain eye contact throughout the conversation and are fully present. We learn to take different points of views on issues or even argue in a healthy manner – looking for collaboration and resolution of differences.

Coaching Question: What are the possible outcomes of this type of “turning?” When would you use turning toward in coaching? in life?

Turning away from others (an act of safety or non-resolution): If we turn away from other people, we may do so because of fear, guilt, or a desire not to engage with them. This often sends a message that they are not important enough to talk to or that we have given up on them. If we shut down, it may be because we have limiting beliefs or untested assumptions about the other person and our relationship. We may not have set clear boundaries and one is overstepping the boundary line unwittingly or deliberately. It may seem safer to protect oneself by being passive or walking away from the conversation. In doing so, it becomes impossible to get different points of view on the table or to even argue because there’s no engagement in the first place. Over time, this posture of “non involvement” is life draining and something has to happen to bring the relationship back to a healthy exchange or deteriorate further.

Coaching Questions: What triggers one’s choice of not engaging or “turning away” from the other person? Under what conditions might this be an acceptable choice of action? What would be an approach to redeem or restore a relationship that is characterized by withdrawal and non-engagement?

Turning against the other: When relational differences escalate and people turn against each other, walls of anger, bitterness, negativity, and blame are volleyed back and forth in personal attacks. Beliefs become irrational and thoughts can become vicious. Words become weapons of warfare as sarcasm, belittling, and demeaning fly through the air with the intent of “winning” and destroying the other. Spiritually, people turn away from God to justify themselves and their behaviors. The relationship deteriorates and demolishes if this “turning” continues.

Coaching Questions: What can the coach do in a situation where the walls are up and the battleground is clearly set before the persons being coached? What questions might the coach ask to establish coaching boundaries? To reframe the beliefs, behaviors, and approaches of the coachee who continues to “turn against” others in their life? When is the situation beyond coaching and better suited for a referral for counseling?

As we know, a coach supports the person being coached in discovery and awareness of their current behavior as a good starting point. The coach can also help the coachee envision a better or ideal outcome in the relationships they bring to the coaching sessions, whether with spouse, boss, team members, or friends. By “coaching in the gap,” coaches can then help the coachee co-create or design a different way of approaching, behaving in, and working through relationships with accountability for results.

Many life coaches have valuable experience working on relationship issues. We would enjoy learning more about your successes. Second, we note the importance of a coach’s personal foundation in spending significant time with God daily for learning about His relationship models, wisdom, and guidance in loving Him, others, and ourselves.


Dr. Anita Schamber

Masterful Life Designs

Life and Career Management Coach

Facilitator, Listen to My Life & Life ReFired

Over Anita’s lifetime, by wearing the hats of coach, counselor, life/work planner, college professor, global leadership developer, and facilitator, she has connected her passion with her purpose of inspiring, motivating and equipping people to use their God-given gifts in Kingdom service. After working globally for World Vision International for 12.5 years, Anita’s “life reFirement” remains focused on encouraging and coaching women and men in the US and abroad to embrace their “Masterful” design and live a life worthy of their calling. Anita has written articles, chapters, and booklets on leadership coaching and life/career coaching, as well as has taught coaching skills and processes on four continents. She currently teaches for The Center for Transformational Coaching at Faith Seminary in Tacoma, WA. Anita is married to KR, is “Mom” to a blended family of six, and has 12 grandchildren.

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