Success Coach Tip: Caution When Using “Tough Love”

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” ~ Maya Angelou


This statement is true in all areas of life, particularly for me as a life coach.  I love when I teach or coach having just enough edge to keep people engaged. If you go too far you can ensure hurt or they will just go away.

Honest Communication to Audience

Like Pat says “I have made every mistake in the book at least once and sometimes seem to have to repeat it a few times before I learned it.” 

One time I made a very mild joking comment to a guy in a class and then after the break notice he had left. I just had a gut sense something was off and called the person in charge. She checked it out and he thought I was making fun of him in front of the class. From my perspective what I said was actually making a comment with the intention to validate him, but that did not matter.

Communication is based on the response you get not what YOU think you communicated.By not attending to this important point, it is simply broadcasting your message, poorly. I got permission to talk to him and said, “I notice that you left and am concerned I may have said something to offend you”.  He said No (which did not match what I knew) and I said in a different way the validating statement I made to him. He then said that someone “might” have miss understood that and I thanked him for pointing that out. We were able to have an effective conversation and both left the conversation in a positive manner.

Caution with “Tough Love”

Their seems to be a new trend in what I called justifying “Tough Love” even in presenters and coaches.

Asking questions like “Who still does not have a Facebook page, yet?”in a tone that is showing them off as stupid. Like that presenter has the right to embarrass someone in front of the room.

If you are going to be tough you have to have earned enough trust to do this.  You also want to have the goal to empower the recipient, NOT just be “right”. This is something I watch with my classes and clients very carefully.

There is a fine line between being evocative and provocative.

I remember coaching one day where I had two very different clients in the same day (the details have been changed some to protect confidentiality). The one in morning was a former line backer. Very big and tall, an intimidating guy and real smart. Our meeting ended up in a heated “discussion” where we had to focus on root issues with him.

My second client was a former schoolteacher, and her level of engagement was focused on confidence and empowerment.  I could not have used the “same” cookie cutter formula for both clients.  It would have crushed one of them.


Using the right level of engagement is what is required. My commitment in teaching and in coaching is to do my best to see through the eyes of every person in front of me.  I speak to that individual whether there is 1 or 500 people in my class.

Listen to what really is needed for the client at hand. If a little toughness is needed, I make sure I have earned the right with compassion first! My engagement is to come from compassion and to be willing to do what it takes to make their goals a reality.  Sometime I do a great job with that and sometimes I need to learn something new.

Many people wanted me to move away from being a “coach” for it really is not a profession like lawyer or doctor. To me coaching is what I do and that is like being in the trenches with my clients as though it is my life at stake not being a tough drill Sargent on the sidelines or just some cheerleader.

Your Thoughts?

I welcome your honest views on this.

Martin Brossman is a Success Coach and Social Media Trainer.  Martin is the co-author of Social Media For Business book, Linking into Sales and is a sought after Teacher and Trainer for Community Colleges throughout North Carolina. To find out when Martin is teaching and/or training near you sign up for his newsletter here.

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An article in the Winter/Spring 2010 edition of the California State License Board’s informational newsletter “California Licensed Contractor” highlighted a new and promising business practice, generally offered as “express services” or “express van services.” The point of the CSLB article was to suggest to General Contractors that they can expand or develop their businesses by providing customers with a “broad palette of construction trade skills” for new projects or repairs. See

ContractorNewsletter2010WinterSpring.pdf .

However, a careful reading of the article will reveal the more subtle point that a General Contractor considering offering a Handyman-type repair or remodel service may need one or more additional licenses in additional classifications.  This concern originates in Sections 7057(a) and (b) of California Business & Professions Code. Under those statutes, general building contractors can accept a prime contract for one speciality — framing or carpentry, for example — and oversee projects and coordinate specific subcontractors for the work. However, specialty or subcontractors must be hired to perform work of a single specialty. For example, if a general contractor operating as an express service is offered a job calling only for electrical or plumbing work, the general contractor must decline the job as more appropriate for a contractor licensed in that particular specialty.

The sole exception is where the job requires more than two types of work. In that case it is appropriate for a California-licensed general building contractor to contract for and oversee the entire project. For example, a general contractor may lawfully perform a complete remodeling job if the work involves plumbing, electrical and carpentry work under one contract.  Under these circumstances, a general building contractor may perform all of the work on a building, or may subcontract parts of the job to contractors with specialty licenses.

Understanding that a typical real-life scenario for express van or handy-man services would likely involve smaller home improvement work like plumbing and electrical repair, it will serve general contractors to be very cautious about accepting such work. Always consider the resources the CSLB expends and can expend in enforcing the prohibitions against unlicensed contracting activity.

Written by Michael L. Claessens, License Advocates Law Group LLP


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