So, there’s a good chance if you’re a semi-regular reader of coaching, self-help, or just general “inspiration” blogs, you’ve heard the term “tough love” bandied about more than once. It’s a popular phrase that leaders in service professions like to toss out; you’ve probably heard personal trainers, business mentors, nutritionists, and other life coaches (to name a few) mention a “tough love” approach with their clients.
In fact, some service gurus are so blunt with their tough love that they go as far as to promise you brutal honesty, regular ass-kickings and a “no excuses, no bullshit” relationship.
But what if you’re not sure you want your ass kicked? What if brutal honesty from someone you want to hire sounds intimidating and scary, rather than helpful? Is there a difference between tough love and ass kicking? And how can you be sure that you’re going to get genuine, authentic support when hiring a service professional, instead of what might sound like punishment?
We can’t speak for everyone, but we do know that when hiring a service-oriented professional, it’s important to have an open discussion about their approach. And you can start by asking, “What does tough love mean to you?” The kind of professional who can’t back up their talk with a clear, definable methodology is one you should think twice about hiring. Below are some factors of tough love that we apply to all of our client relationships, as well as some questions you can use as a jumping off point when hiring any lifestyle-based or service professional.
- Accountability: “How do you hold your clients accountable for their actions or inactions?” If you’re considering hiring a personal trainer, for example, you’ll want to know how they typically help keep their clients on track, and what you can expect from them if you don’t follow through on a commitment.
- Agenda: “How do you ensure that your client’s interests are always the ones being served?” Be careful about hiring anyone who is clearly operating from their own agenda, not yours. The right person for you is one who has a judgment-free approach, and who is an advocate for your growth and development, however that might look.
- Communication: “How do you plan to communicate with me? But in particular, how do you plan to communicate tough things to me?” The reason you hire any lifestyle professional is because they have knowledge and expertise that you don’t, and because they have the ability to see where your potential is (that you often can’t see). Naturally, they’re frequently going to have to communicate what they see…which might involve some painful truths.
But how they communicate with you makes all the difference. The right personal trainer isn’t going to make you feel awful about your weight, and the right coach isn’t going to make you feel worse about your patterns. Instead, they should be able to communicate the tough stuff in a way that’s direct and honest, but that’s also progressing you forward. In other words, they should be able to help you see opportunities for change, and then help you achieve it. Anyone who makes you feel worse about yourself, and who can’t help you see the way forward, is NOT someone to continue paying.
What do you think, 20-somethings? Have you ever had a not-so-great experience with “tough love?” What do you think of our definition? We’d love to hear from you!
Kristen & Rachel