As I shared my observations of how coaching was similar to social work, I found myself dealing with an unexpected observation.
“There is a critical difference between your clients and mine. Yours are looking for your insights and advice. Mine generally do not want anything from me. The reason they listen to what I have to say is that the courts told them that they must.”
With each replay in my mind, I have come to appreciate the ironies.
Even if every comment was a wisdom gift, the listener has a choice. It is clear that the starting point of desire is very different than mandate, however in each case what follows should never be assumed. Just because one says that s/he is willing to hear, it does not mean that one hears. Even when one does not want to listen, sometimes words of truth come with a power we cannot resist.
If I step beyond the starting point, both audiences share much in common. It starts with the reality that the truth is not always easy to hear. Truth can be difficult, painful, and confusing. We may not recognize truth, even when it is in front of us. As I understand this, I realize that Compassion is a friend that should always be present with Truth.
One does not always know what one should do with truth. Conflicting priorities, application in a specific context, and potential consequences are clouds that make it more difficult to see and use the truth one has.
Understanding truth is often best done with hindsight. In the absence of experience, applying truth is often an act of trust. Without trust, the initial “no” remains the answer to old question “Oh, dear people, will you listen to me now? Israel, will you follow my map?” (Psalm 81.13)
With each new dawn comes a fresh opportunity to hear. I hope that my heart is as willing as my head says it should be. There are times when Life gives me a choice; sometimes what follows is best seen and heard a mandate.