Life-coach­ing cour­ses yet to be a hit among lo­cals

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By LI XUEQING in Shang­hai


China’s rapid de­vel­op­ment has in­her­ently in­duced more pres­sure to the lives of many of its cit­i­zens and has, as a re­sult, de­vel­oped a will­ing­ness in peo­ple to em­brace pro­fes­sional ad­vice on how to bet­ter man­age the de­mands in life.

Xiao Yi is a 37-year-old life coach in Shang­hai. When she started out five years ago, few peo­ple knew about such a ca­reer in the city. How­ever th­ese days, half of the au­di­ence at her group coach­ing work­shops are Chi­nese. They fo­cus on com­mon con­cerns such as stress re­lief, habit changes and self-dis­cov­ery.

Her com­pany, Oc­tave, launched a per­son de­vel­op­ment cen­ter named “The Liv­ing Room” in Shang­hai on Oct 30. Af­fil­i­ated to the Sin­ga­pore-head­quar­tered IMC Pan Asia Al­liance Group, the es­tab­lish­ment of­fers pro­grams be­sides life-coach­ing ses­sions, such as health and nu­tri­tion man­age­ment.

Xiao has no­ticed that Chi­nese peo­ple are gen­er­ally most con­cerned about their ca­reers and many com­plain that col­leagues or work part­ners are un­pro­fes­sional. Xiao has also ob­served that the Chi­nese are more goal-ori­ented and prag­matic, as com­pared with for­eign­ers who are more fo­cused on self de­vel­op­ment.

Lin Zi, founder of the psy­cho­log­i­cal con­sul­tancy agency Linzi Coun­sel­ing, which also pro­vides coach­ing pro­grams, can tes­tify to the grow­ing in­ter­ests of the Chi­nese in life­coach­ing-re­lated pro­grams and work­shops. She said that her clients are largely welle­d­u­cated peo­ple aged be­tween 30 and 45 years old from mid­dle in­come classes and above. Many of them boast hav­ing work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence in a for­eign com­pany or hav­ing lived over­seas, fac­tors which make them more re­cep­tive to the ser­vice.

Ac­cord­ing to Lin, the de­mand for life-coach­ing cour­ses in China started around 2005. Dur­ing this pe­riod, for­eign com­pa­nies had brought in th­ese pro­grams as part of their em­ployee wel­fare pack­ages, lead­ing many Chi­nese com­pa­nies to fol­low suit. Based on a re­port by coach­ing­sur­ in 2014, more than 60 per­cent of com­pa­nies in China have used coach­ing ser­vices in 2014, up 43.6 per­cent from 2012.

How­ever, there is still a long way to go be­fore the Chi­nese fully em­brace the industry. One of the hur­dles is the train­ing and ac­cred­i­ta­tion of life coaches.

“Some peo­ple call them­selves coaches af­ter hav­ing learned just one or two coach­ing tech­niques. This sort of be­hav­ior may dis­rupt the whole industry and af­fect peo­ple’s opin­ion of life coaches, thus mak­ing it more dif­fi­cult to build the trust be­tween clients and coaches,” Lin said.

An­other prob­lem is the fact that Chi­nese peo­ple are not ac­cus­tomed to pay­ing for some­thing that may only pro­duce a yield many years later. In an in­ter­view with City Week­end mag­a­zine last year, Sin­ga­porean life coach Jeff Tan re­it­er­ated this point, adding that the Chi­nese are also hes­i­tant about pay­ing for an in­tan­gi­ble re­sult.

Lin said that it may take a decade be­fore life-coach­ing cour­ses be­come a hit among the Chi­nese.

“Peo­ple only go for psy­cho­log­i­cal con­sul­ta­tion when they have ur­gent needs or prob­lems. It’s there­fore more dif­fi­cult to get peo­ple to pay for life-coach­ing, which is pre­ven­tive rather than re­me­dial, and re­veal their lives to oth­ers,” she added.

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