I read my friend’s new Facebook update with excitement. Big, brave, bold words… straight ahead.

An update for yall.

Facebook is like my family living room. Its where I come to chill out, hang out, share, laugh, and get inspired.

She continued:

So, from now on, if anyone posts something hurtful or cruel, Im gonna unfriend you. No offense. You are entitled to your opinions and free speech rocks. But Im making my personal Facebook world a negativity-free zone. Thanks.

I finished reading my friend’s new “Snark-Free Facebook Policy” and thought to myself, “You go, girl! Way to set boundaries that help and protect you. Love it.”

I wrote a little note to congratulate her on her choice.

And then…

It happened.

The “Unsolicited Coaching” began.

And my friend was the unlucky recipient.

“Unsolicited Coaching” is a phenomenon that is rampant in the life coaching, wellness and personal development community.

It’s what happens when someone who considers themselves to be very “evolved” and “enlightened” and “courageous” sees something out in the world that they consider to be “not evolved enough” or “not enlightened enough” or “not courageous enough”… and rather than keep their opinions to themselves, they feel a need to “chime in” and “coach” the poor, sad, not-evolved-enough person… without that person’s request or consent.

It often sounds like this:

You dont want negative commentary in your Facebook community? Thats so sad. I really thought you were stronger than that. You should be able to tolerate it, calmly, without letting it upset you. Thats REAL strength.

Or this:

Working out more consistently is terrific, but your life wont REALLY change until you break your sugar addiction / cut out gluten / go raw / go Paleo / insert lifestyle here…”

Oh, Unsolicited Coaching.

I completely get why this happens.

Have I been Ms. Unsolicited CoachyPants in the past? Oh yes ma’am. I have.

When you’ve got ideas and insights to share — and you’ve motivated by a desire to help and serve people — it can be rrrrrrrreeally hard to keep the “good news” to yourself. It’s so tempting to “chime in” and “dish out some advice — free of charge!”

But here’s what I have learned after 8 years in the personal development industry — 8 years where I have been on both sides of the Unsolicited Coaching table:

Coaching works best when it is sought out and requested not unsolicited.

Just because I hold the title of “Master Certified Life Coach” doesn’t mean that I get to coach people — offline, online, on social media, in public — without their agreement or permission.

Imagine if dentists were running amok through the city forcibly opening people’s mouths and making urgent flossing recommendations. No. People. No. There’s a time and a place for that kind of service.

As coaches, we all need to check ourselves — and check in with other people — before doing the coach-y thing we do so well.

Repeat after me:

May I offer some advice?

May I make an observation?

Way to go! Id love to support you with your goals. If coaching is something you want, lets talk.

Check in.

Get consent.

Then coach your heart out.

I know you’re itching to help people. Just put the brakes on for a hot minute and make sure the “help” you want to give is wanted, needed, and going to be willingly received.

Anything else is icky (at best), public shaming / harassment (at worst), and rarely a productive use of time (for you or for anyone else).

Coach people who want to be coached.

You’ll be happier, wealthier, and more satisfied — and your clients will get better results — because of your approach.

Susan