In our constantly evolving world of technology, we have many options of tools to use to help us achieve our health goals. Pedometers have given way to more sophisticated sensors that we can wear that will monitor our number of steps, distance traveled, our total energy expenditure and sleep. This is useful information indeed yet it has been shown that most people discard these devices after a short period of time. What’s missing is human interaction.
A new sophisticated system of support involves a subscription the gives the client contact with a “real” coach. It is claimed that a trained coach will be assigned to each subscriber and have live contact with them to encourage, challenge and “gently cajole” them towards improved lifestyle habits. Now we’re getting closer to “coaching in the cloud”. This is no doubt an improvement on the original tracking devices. And the regular messages and interaction with a person, plus one liners of support may well help. However, something is still lacking.
One of the biggest strengths of a coaching relationship, is just that – it is a relationship. And a relationship can’t be built on one line interaction. It involves an exchange of information which can only happen when insightful and perceptive questions are asked and the answers acknowledged. When the conversation helps an individual get to know themselves better. Motivational interviewing techniques, used to help people move through “stuckness” are subtle and complex and can’t be automated. Relationships are built on trust, empathy and rapport. These things cannot be created through a digital service in Mumbai.
That doesn’t mean that services such as the one referred to above do not have value. The value will come from increased engagement and accountability of the client and the occasional lift in mood when a message comes through, but some things in our world cannot be found in the cloud. Positive relationships are created through time, effort, acceptance and understanding and just like a good marriage cannot be created from a few sessions of speed dating, the value of a coach is undermined if we feel a few digital sentences will suffice.