The first time you talk with an executive or career coach; don’t expect to get all the answers. Professional executive or career coaches can help you – rarely in one meeting.

Think about if you had to engage an attorney, tax accountant or financial planner – would you like them to guess at what you should do with your case or money? If you did get some quick advice, would you act on it? How confident would you be in achieving your desired outcome? I would expect your confidence level to be low.

To do a proper evaluation, it is important to understand your current state, to gather relevant data and to learn about your personal goals. Without that same kind of information, an executive or career coach is severely limited in how they can help you reach your personal development or career goals.

The problem is free advice and opinions are readily available. Everyone has an opinion and make no mistake it is often biased to his/her experiences.

Think about the last time you asked someone their opinion on a problem you were struggling with – did you take their advice? Most likely, you continued to ask other people their opinions. At some point, confusion sets in because of all the “advice” you have received is not consistent.

The reason you receive different advice is that friends rarely scratch below the surface of a problem or issue – which is where the real work begins. It is much safer to talk in generalities or from his or her perspective.

Executive and career coaches are trained to avoid personal biases and to use critical thinking skills. The focus is on your personal development; enabling you to find the solution(s) that works best for your unique situation.

To coach effectively, data gathering, building trust and listening are important to the problem-solving process. If you want results, you have to invest the time for self-reflection. Transformation happens over time, not in a single isolated conversation.

So the next time you casually ask someone what they think you should do, consider if you really are going to act on it or if you are increasing your confusion quotient. If that person is a coach, don’t be offended if s/he does not help you immediately – because it is a sign of a coaching professional and want to become informed before he/she performs.