I recently received an advertising email offering me online coaching services. A 2.0 service which presents itself as an alternative to traditional coaching (face to face), but claiming to be more practical, without wasting time and above all more economical. While today, the term coach is more and more overused, I admit that with the notion of virtual coaching, we still go a step above. Can we still talk about coaching in this form?
On closer inspection, I answer “no”. As a Certified Coach trained in the DOJO* method, I have learned through my training and my experiences that one of the main pillars of this coaching job is to create a relationship of trust between two people, in which the coach accompanies the coachee in complete transparency and honesty. How can you imagine being able to create this relationship with someone virtual, when the screen offers all the possibilities to hide or cheat? Just look at the number of embellished profiles on the various social networks or dating sites to understand the limit of this virtual relationship.
Moreover, any communicator knows full well that verbal language is not an individual’s only mode of communication. A coach must be able to rely on the analysis of the body language of his interlocutor, so as to better understand his feelings when he speaks. Unfortunately, this is impossible to see even with a webcam, which greatly reduces the analysis and therefore support capacities of a virtual coach.
In my opinion, a relationship of trust can only be established in the context of a real place, preferably neutral, and in a time bubble where the two people can express themselves and exchange freely without the influence of an external factor. For effective coaching, it is necessary that the two actors see each other in person and have a protected setting, a relational bubble that will make it possible to make the most of the time and the support.
A word of advice: whatever your motivations for seriously considering coaching, be careful not to fall into the trap of new technologies for practical and purely budgetary reasons. Effective coaching requires a real willingness to question and a strong personal investment, which is not done in a hurry, between 2 meetings. Coaching is a work on the human…and not on the image that a screen sends back. Between the real and the virtual, this is a limit that I do not advise crossing, at the risk of simply wasting your time.