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Why People Often Get The Definition Wrong And The Prevalence Of The Word "Coach" Over "Mentor"

Saskia Greiner is a Jay Shetty certified Success Coach and host of the podcast "Success Speaks." With over 13 years of experience in sales IT, she has the knowledge and skills to achieve long-term success.

Executive Contributor Saskia Greiner

In recent years, coaching has gained significant popularity as a tool for personal and professional development. However, it is not uncommon to find people using the term "coach" interchangeably with "mentor." While both mentorship and coaching involve guidance and support, they are distinct in their approach and purpose. In this article, we will explore why people frequently misunderstand the definition of coaching and the reasons why the term "coach" has become more prevalent than "mentor."

Communication between two people.

I think one of the main reasons people get the definition of coaching wrong is the misconception that it is solely about providing advice or giving answers. Many see coaching as a one-way street, where the coach imparts wisdom to the client or directs them towards a specific solution. However, in reality, coaching is a collaborative process that empowers the client to tap into their own inner resources, insights, and potential. It involves asking powerful questions, active listening, and guiding clients to discover their own answers and solutions.


The modern shift toward coaching

The growing popularity of coaching can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, in today's fast-paced and ever-changing world, individuals are seeking a more holistic and empowering approach to personal and professional development. Coaching offers a unique space for self-reflection, clarity, and goal-setting, allowing individuals to navigate challenges and reach their full potential.


Additionally, the shift towards coaching also reflects a changing mentality in society. Unlike traditional mentorship, which often entails a hierarchical relationship, coaching emphasizes equality and partnership. The coach is not an expert providing advice but rather a facilitator who helps the client unlock their own insights and abilities. This approach resonates with individuals who yearn for a more collaborative and empowering experience.


While the terms "coach" and "mentor" are often used interchangeably, understanding their distinctions is fundamental. Mentors typically possess specific expertise and provide guidance based on their own experiences. They may serve as role models and offer advice or encouragement in a particular field. On the other hand, coaches help individuals identify and achieve their goals through self-discovery and skill-building, using various coaching techniques and tools.


As I continue to see posts by people calling themselves coaches, it is critical to appreciate and respect these differences in order to properly represent the unique value of coaching and mentoring. As the demand for coaching increases, it is important to promote a clear understanding of its principles and methods so that the client can make informed decisions and find the right support for their needs.



Inquiry-based approach

Coaching involves asking powerful questions and facilitating self-discovery to help clients tap into their own insights, strengths, and potential.


Rather than providing answers or advice, coaches empower clients to find their own solutions, set goals, and take action towards achieving them.

Short-term engagements

Coaching engagements often have specific time frames, focusing on addressing immediate challenges or goals within a limited period rather than long-term commitments.

Holistic development

Coaching encompasses a broader scope of personal and professional development, addressing various aspects of life, including relationships, communication, self-confidence, and overall well-being.




A mentor is typically an experienced individual who offers guidance and support based on their own knowledge and expertise in a particular field or industry.

Experience-based learning

Mentorship focuses on sharing personal experiences, lessons learned, and advice to help the mentee navigate challenges, make informed decisions, and develop specific skills.

Long-term relationship

Mentors typically engage in long-term relationships with mentees, offering ongoing support, guidance, and mentoring throughout their journey.


Mentors often focus on career-related goals, providing insights and advice for career advancement, skill development, and professional growth.


Coaching is a powerful tool for personal and professional growth, but unfortunately its definition can be easily misunderstood. By clearing up misconceptions and promoting a true understanding of coaching, we can fully appreciate its transformative potential. Although the term 'coach' is now more commonly used than 'mentor', it is important to recognize and respect the unique role that both play in supporting people on their respective journeys. By embracing these distinctions, we can harness the true power of coaching and mentorship to provide a personalized service to clients.

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Saskia Greiner, Success Coach

Saskia Greiner is a Jay Shetty certified Success Coach and host of the podcast "Success Speaks." With over 13 years of experience in sales IT, she has the knowledge and skills to achieve long-term success. Saskia's coaching style is empathetic and accountable, helping individuals unleash their untapped potential through transformative programs. She specializes in personal development and career advancement.



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