Coaching and Consulting are regularly mixed in conversation without clearly distinguishing the difference between the two. Years ago my coach and associate answered this very simply for me as follows:
Simply put Coaching is about the “Context” while Consulting is about the “Content” that is relevant to accomplishing your desired outcome.
Different authors address this. This is my take on it: Context houses the content thus giving meaning to the subject at hand. Content is the information or message being dealt with or spoken about.
A classic example is that of killing another human being. Consider that killing someone is the content. In the context of “War” killing another human being is justifiable. While in the context of a peaceful community, killing another is considered wrong and punishment is applicable.
Another example of content and context is in conflict resolution. Many individuals live in the context that there is something they are doing wrong. The classic question being – “what is wrong with me or what did I do wrong”? In this context it is very difficult to resolve anything. On the other hand, in the context of “what can be done to improve the situation”? – resolution of the conflict or content is efficient and productive.
So when you work with a consultant get set up by a good coach to distinguish the context before implementing any solutions. Taking the time to define the appropriate context will increase your ability to have the content be received, understood and dealt with optimal effectiveness.