I addressed how he was relating to me head on. I told him that as his coach, I was fine with him exactly as he was, and that I could see his commitment to truth, honesty and excellence. I also said that in the interest of him understanding better how others may be feeling, I would share what my experience when he spoke in that tone and used that language. I said that I felt demeaned, disrespected, and angry, and that if his clients felt this way it made sense that they would be leaving. As with most people, he resisted the pain of understanding how much he was hurting the people around him, but after a little while he was able to see it. I think a lot of coaches let up and don’t push clients to feel the pain they are causing others, since it is so uncomfortable. However, I know from experience that this is often a critical turning point that can motivate significant behavioral change, so I make sure they feel it rather than just seeing it intellectually. After a while, Joe was able to see how his know it all attitude was affecting his marriage and his relationships with his family as well as his work. By the end of that session the seriousness of it had started to sink in and we were on our way to a productive coaching engagement.
If you haven’t coached many lawyers, you should certainly give it a try. There are numerous charming, witty and fun lawyers out there who could use support in their lives and their law practices. Furthermore, many are in positions of influence, and thus, helping them can have wide reverberations within society.
* Names and other details have been changed to protect client identities.