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#Teacher #Trainer #Mentor #Coach #Counsellor #Facilitator - Whats the difference?

Some roles in our life are clearly definited, viz., a father, a wife, a boss, a subordinate, a colleague, a sibling, etc. Many other roles are not defined and quite often, confused with each other. The error is noticeable in case of some of these terms used interchangeably. I, for one, have read and heard the terms coach, trainer, teacher, etc. being used with impunity, so much so, there are thousands out there who think a coach is a trainer.

A coach can be brilliant as a coach without necessarily having a distinguished career. Mr. Ramakant Achrekar, Sachin Tendulkar’s coach is perhaps the best example. Vide this post, I am making an attempt at clarifying the roles played by a teacher, trainer, coach, mentor, counselor and facilitator. There are definitions and explanations all over the internet, so I thought I should try a different approach. Once you have read through this article; your thoughts, views and insights on this subject would be wonderful to have.

To succintly capture the essence of these varied roles, an illustrative example would be most appropriate. Rather than pontificate on the definition, meaning and purport of each role as a theroretical exposition, the subtle differences in the nature of interactions that emerge out of each role can be ideally explored through an example. Let us presume you have a protégé (the word is used in the general context to represent a person who needs guidance and / or support) who needs help in preparing the content for a business presentation.

As a teacher, you would embark on skill building over a series of lessons, all of which touch upon the subject of content development and this would include sourcing, encapsulating, presenting, etc. Further you would also try to touch upon those areas which may be indirectly associated to the task of preparing content for a business presentation.

As a trainer, you would help your protégé master that specific skill of preparing content by working right along side him or her, demonstrating some of the tasks involved yourself, till such time as the protégé learns to prepare the content by himself / herself. Sometimes, you would have him practice what you have demonstrated to be sure that the learning is complete.

As a coach, you would still help your protégé master that specific skill but this time you would adopt a more ’hands off’ approach as compared to the ’hands on’ approach that you had as a trainer. You would ask the right questions to ensure that the protégé is wel prepared for the task that lies ahead, is confident of achieving the task, has planned well and prepared for any possible setbacks. You would also address any doubts or anxieties that the protégé had before commencing his/her task or during the process of carrying out the task.

As a mentor, you would work on your protégé’s motivation, attitude and general capability towards accomplishing the set task over a period of time, always making yourself available at mutually convenient times for filling in blind spots, celebrating milestones, keeping the enthusiasm alive, filling in blind spots and journalling the learnings from the task.

As a counsellor, you would listen empathically to the protégé in a confidential and dependable environment, and empower them to deal with negative situations or thoughts which are causing emotional pain to the protégé. You would encourage him/her to talk freely and explore difficult feelings, respect his/her views and help him/her to gain an insight into and resolve their problems.

As a facilitator, you would use a wide range of different techniques and methodologies to ensure that the requisite learning is complete vide strong, impactful discussions and experiences either individually or as a group together with the protégé’s peers.

The author, Rajesh Seshadri, is an internationally recognized Certified Leadership Coach, Certified Success Coach and Certified Life Coach. He is also a NLP Master Practitioner, facilitator and therapist. The basket of therapies is holistic and integrative adopting techniques from Psychotherapy, NLP, Silva, Gestalt, Hypnosis and Silva UltraMind. Additionally, he is a seasoned corporate professional who continues to serve as a whole-time Director and Board Member. You can contact him here.

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