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  • Writer's pictureWesley Powley-Baker

Working with men

I have been coaching for some time now and found I am coaching men more and more. I wanted to write and offer my thoughts on what I find when working with clients. 

I have been coaching for some time now and found I am coaching men more and more. I wanted to write and offer my thoughts on what I find when working with clients. 

The men I work with say choosing a male coach was important when looking for a coach though none say they specifically wanted to work on matters related to being a man. As with all my clients, the sessions start as a discovery of how they got from there to here! Subsequently, we figure out the goals to work on, be it – rethinking life’s journeys, reimagining a new way to be, or exploring an issue where they are stuck. If during sessions, what it is to be a man arises we will explore this and allow it to unfold.

When looking in on what being a man entails today, it seems a world away from my experience growing up in London in the 70’s and 80’s. It often seemed that few people were questioning what it meant to be a boy or a man and challenging the impact of these stereotypes. Yet when reflecting on my own youth I didn’t quite fall into those stereotypical ways, in part because of my parents, my school and my friendships. I still have some strong memories of great teachers who influenced me and several like-minded friends whom I’m still in contact with. 

So though being a “real” man, according to familiar stereotypical ways, didn’t quite fit for me, I must admit I did struggle and often found myself masking or pretending, such as playing sports, being tough, or joining in the banter. It was only through time I realised this has never been the whole story. When looking around I realised few people lived out this version of what it is to be a man. I’m not sure when this was, but it coincided with doing work on myself and it was from there that my confidence in who I am began to show up. It is this journey, as well as my role as a social worker, father, partner, and now a coach, which are all important to what I bring to coaching. 

When looking around today I still see these ideas and gender stereotypes and the impact they exert in men’s daily lives. I also know and hear more about new ways of thinking surrounding men's well-being and new narratives are constantly evolving. It’s clear there is now more of an understanding and appreciation for men’s well-being, keeping healthy, dealing with stresses, and being the best version of yourself. We know how important it is to our overall mental health and well-being to be able to ask for help and support when needed, talking things through with someone we trust rather than bottling everything up. Men are also learning to support other men through discussing their shared experiences. 

These stories do come up in my coaching and it’s important to support and explore these – and I have seen how coaching and other therapies can make a positive difference by promoting these conversations. The numbers contacting me for coaching may be a result of this greater awareness. That growing confidence to be our best selves. Reimagining and working on what it means to be a man is already the first step in beginning to change! 

Since that day it’s just been so much easier to live and so much easier to enjoy life” - Michael Phelps

What does coaching offer to men?

 This is a quote from a man I worked with.

I decided I wanted to work with a male coach. I think it is important for men to seek support from other men.”

Engaging from the start…

… is so important. Taking time at the beginning to build the relationship sets the course for a positive journey, to know it’s okay to ask for help and support.

Recognising and taking that first step often seems like the toughest one to make. As a coach, I am conscious of exploring and beginning conversations that prompt a more fluid, open way of moving forward. Whether it’s the type of question, the tools, resources, activities, or even the setting such as walking and even baking together. It’s a focus on fulfilling potential free from assumptions or stereotypes of what it is to be a man. 

Supporting well-being and a space to talk

We know research tells us men’s mental health and well-being continue to be an important issue. The men I work with say coaching offers them the opportunity to open up. They tell me, that amongst their male friends and colleagues, there is little opportunity to talk personally about concerns and worries. A coach can create these intimate moments. It can only be positive in helping to redefine their place as part of becoming a loving father, partner, and friend. 

Another client reflected in the session,

There is no one in my friendship group I can open up to”.

A place for challenge and support, to work side by side

The coaching space is a great time to think about well-being, how to be inspired, and how to be the best version of yourself. Coaching, irrespective of gender, can be a wonderful and challenging way to spend quality time as well as a great way to challenge old habits and ways, negative behaviours, and limiting thoughts. Just like every other day! 

Show up and be curious

There are times when we feel we have reached a dead-end. A mindset of curiosity can help us connect new information and bring together seemingly disparate ideas. The power of curiosity comes from its ability to help us learn and grow. It fills in our blind spots and improves our self-awareness. A coach can help to question what is going on in our lives, and our behaviours and in thinking of new ways to be – and be part of the solution. 

Working with empathy builds rapport and supports change

Another client reflected,

I feel it is important for men to seek support from other men when in emotional crises, so would particularly recommend coaching to other men who need support during a period of change/crisis in their lives”.

A coach works with empathy, the ability to be present with what is happening and recognise your state of mind or emotion. This ability to see things from another perspective and empathise with another is important. This builds rapport and shows the coach what’s important through listening, and acknowledging, without blame or judgement. 

A coach through their skills and resources brings insights and understanding of the challenges faced and helps address the issues holding you back. A coach supports you in finding ‘what’ has been holding you back, sets goals with you, builds self-esteem, and takes the steps you need to achieve your goals. 

We all need a bit of help sometimes. It can be hard to make the first step and break out of a stuck or downward routine - more so for men as it can seem like a bit of a taboo to seek help. – it’s the bravest thing anyone can do. Coaching can offer a time and space to overcome to do this.

Coaching provides clarity, direction, and focus and can offer accountability and help you define your purpose. If you would like to know more about my coaching, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me by email, through my website, or by messaging me on 07778258054 to arrange a discovery call.

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