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Frequently Asked Questions

Got a question that hasn’t been asked yet? Cool, please send me a message using the contact form. Check out the blog as well for posts about coaching.

  • What is needed from me as a client?
    You’ll need to be open to self-reflection, take responsibility for your learning and development, and be willing to commit the time and effort required to make your goal happen. Yes, I’ll support you, but like a personal trainer, I cannot exercise for you if you want to get fit. I am by no means saying that coaching ought to become just another place where you have to perform, because it’s really not! For the most part, if you bring yourself, you’ll be fine. A practical note: Once we decide to work together (after a discovery call and before our first session), I’ll ask that you sign a coaching agreement covering basics such as: acknowledgement of what coaching is and is not; confidentiality and its limits; consent for your basic details to go on my coaching log, which may be submitted to a professional body for accreditation purposes; and any minimum commitment, frequency, and fees.
  • What’s your availability like? What time zone are you in?
    I’m based in London, UK, so my time zone is either GMT or GMT+1 depending on the time of year. I’m generally available throughout the week except Thursday and Friday. Depending on the day, the earliest slot is 10am UK time, and the latest slot is 7:30pm UK time. This allows me to work with US-based clients who are available in the morning or early afternoon. Please take a look at my booking calendar for available time slots. I publish my availability up to 28 days in advance. Between 29 October 2023 and 30 March 2024, I’m on Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), which is: 5 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time; 6 hours ahead of Central Standard Time; 8 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time; 1 hour behind Central European Time; 4 hours behind Gulf Standard Time; and 8 hours behind Hong Kong Time. I recommend World Time Buddy for figuring out time differences.
  • I don’t see a time that works for me on your calendar. Am I out of luck?
    Not necessarily! Obviously, it’ll depend on my capacity and general life commitments. Please get in touch with a couple of timings that work for you (they can be outside standard UK work hours and on the weekend). Be sure to include your time zone, please.
  • How long/often should I be coached?
    It really depends on what your needs are and where you’re at on your journey. People usually come to me with a specific-enough goal for which there is: some kind of timeline built in (e.g. finding more-fulfilling work within X number of months); some degree of progress that they’re looking for (e.g. becoming 10% more confident to handle conflict, disagreement, and negotiations); some degree of flexibility as to when coaching is considered finished (e.g. developing and fine-tuning a personal toolkit that’s sufficient to meet most challenges you face when running your business); or some tangible outcome (e.g. getting clear on the real issue and untangling the yarn of emotions, so that you’re no longer overwhelmed and are in a better place to make some important decision). Generally, I’d recommend a block of 6 sessions to start, usually at a frequency of one session every other week with an accountability check-in in between sessions. That way you get to take advantage of the power of pre-commitment, and we work together regularly enough to inspect and adapt and keep the momentum going. This is particularly relevant if you’re new to coaching, haven’t quite explored your values, beliefs, and habits, and/or are embarking on a big change (good for you!).
  • What languages are you actually fluent in? 我真係可以同你講廣東話?
    I speak both English and Cantonese to a native level. I also understand a great deal of Mandarin, which is usually enough for me to get certain concepts and phrases for which there aren’t English equivalents. Falling back on written Chinese (traditional or simplified) is also an option. Beyond that, I work with multilingualism with sensitivity, informed by the work of Dr Beverley Costa. And to Cantonese readers: 係呀,我喺香港土生土長,有喺本地學校讀中文/中化,你同我講俗語、成語、典故都得。
  • Do you coach virtually or in person?
    Our coaching sessions are virtual. Zoom is the default platform. If you’re in London, UK and would like to have at least one in-person session, we can try to arrange it. Walk-and-talk sessions are great!
  • What do you think about Ted Lasso as a coach?
    My answer is going to be a bit spoiler-y (up to S3E6 as of this writing), so continue reading at your own risk. For the most part, I like Ted as a coach, such as: how he really cares about helping his players be better people off the pitch as well; his moments of vulnerability that lead to impactful speeches (i.e. using his own experiences in a helpful way); his willingness to see the good and the potential in people; his treatment of everyone as a fellow human, regardless of their status; his (sometimes correct) judgement call of letting people rise to the occasion rather than intervening himself; his humour, musical references, and use of language; and how he doesn’t blame or shame people as a way of motivation. Where I hope to see him grow: his lack of knowledge in his area of coaching (this was cute in his first season, but after so long?); when his positivity veers into toxic territory; a common issue: trying to help others while ignoring his own problems, even when his struggles clearly leak into and impact his work; related to the above, his inconsistent relationships with the people he influences (sure, those people are grown-ups who we can rightfully expect to state their own needs and concerns, but I also expect that Ted, as a coach/leader, to notice when his people are struggling); and his tendency to avoid confrontation. But yes, as he admitted himself, he’s a ‘work in progmess’. We all are to one degree or another. So let’s help each other along.
  • What’s the difference between coaching and mentoring?
    The European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), of which I’m a member, defines coaching and mentoring jointly as follows: “It is a professionally guided process that inspires clients to maximise their personal and professional potential. It is a structured, purposeful and transformational process, helping clients to see and test alternative ways for improvement of competence, decision-making and enhancement of quality of life. Coach and Mentor and client work together in a partnering relationship on strictly confidential terms. In this relationship, clients are experts on the content and decision-making level; the coach and mentor is an expert in professionally guiding the process.” Separately, the EMCC has the following definition of mentoring: “Mentoring is a learning relationship, involving the sharing of skills, knowledge, and expertise between a mentor and mentee through developmental conversations, experience sharing, and role modelling. The relationship may cover a wide variety of contexts and is an inclusive two-way partnership for mutual learning that values differences.” When I say that my services are usually 95% coaching and 5% mentoring, I’m referring to how I’m focused on drawing out your inner resources and being your thinking partner (coaching), and if you’re like most people who’d choose me as a coach, chances are good that I do have the skills, knowledge, and expertise that are relevant to your goals and that my experiences may be of interest to you (mentoring). I will always work with you on that balance, and you’re of course welcome to choose 100% coaching. You can find the EMCC definitions here: EMCC Global Competence Framework, Glossary V2, Revised January 2018.
  • What’s the difference between coaching and therapy?
    “Therapy is primarily concerned with alleviating distress and suffering, and coaching is primarily concerned with the development of potential. Coaching can sometimes be therapeutic, but that shouldn’t be its primary purpose.” – David Britten, dual-trained therapist and coach, “How Coaches Can Better Support Clients’ Mental Health”, The AC (Association for Coaching) Podcast “Coaching is . . . an integration of cognitive-behavioural/solutions-focused/positive psychology approaches together with a motivational theory within a humanistic tradition.” – Julia Vaughan Smith, Therapist Into Coach There are many types of therapy. Some are focused on the past, problems, emotions, and/or insight. Some, like cognitive-behavioural therapy and solutions-focused therapy, have more similarities to coaching. I’m passionate about demystifying and destigmatising therapy and helping people find the right support. We can find out through a discovery call or a one-off coaching session what may be a good next step for you. It’s totally fine with me if you end up working with a therapist rather than with me; I really do take your mental health seriously. See also this article: “How to figure out if you need a career coach, a life coach or a therapist”.
  • Do you adhere to a code of ethics?
    Yes, I do. As an affiliate member of the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC), I adhere to the EMCC Global Code of Ethics. I also work with an EMCC-accredited supervisor.
  • Mel? Maloney? What’s your name, man?
    🎵 Alexander Hamilton! 🎵 (Sorry, I’m a musical theatre kid.) Maloney is on my passport, but to my friends I’ve always been Mel (or some ‘Konglish’ version of Maloney). For many years I’d kept my professional life almost entirely separate from my personal life, choosing to introduce myself as Maloney in work-related situations and Mel outside of work. Now I just want to integrate both. You can call me by either name. My last name, for the record, is Liu. Feel free to look me up on LinkedIn to make sure I’m a real person. I have recommendations going as far back as 2009.
  • This all sounds interesting, but I’m a bit scared, and I’m not sure I’m ready. What should I do?
    Well, I can’t tell you what to do. What I will say is that whatever you feel is valid and that you’re not alone! Some clients have told me that they’re worried that they’ll fail, that accountability sounds scary, that they think they need to have their act together before coming to coaching, or that they should be able to do it themself or have tried even more things before asking for help. I can tell you that these are all understandable concerns and common things to work on in coaching. I’d invite you to consider these things: Sit with that feeling and consider what it’s trying to tell you: Where is this feeling showing up in your body? What exactly are you scared of? What do you need? Write down what “ready” means to you: How will you know when you’re ready? Ponder the question: What may happen if you dive in before you feel ready? Take the time you need and let ideas percolate! Talk to the best listener you know about what’s come up for you. This could be a conversation that’d strengthen your bond. Consider connecting with me, whether that’s booking an obligation-free discovery call, leaving me a message, subscribing to my mailing list, or simply bookmarking my website for the future. And remember, that’s just an invitation, not a demand. You’re free to accept or decline!
  • Do you offer concessionary rates?
    Not officially, no. I already do plenty of unpaid work as a therapist-in-training, so my capacity for further concessions is limited to specific causes and times. If you’re interested in my coaching at all, do book a discovery call. Maybe you’ll see that there’s one primary issue that’s worth spending a small number of sessions on, knowing that unblocking it will set you up for success. Or maybe you’ll discover that, given your high level of awareness and motivation, you’re happy to do more reading and homework between sessions, so that our coaching can progress faster and focus more on the non-cognitive side of things. Or maybe you’re close to burning out and could really use of a boost of quality human connection as you – we! – plan your way forward. Or maybe you’re no stranger to coaching and can come in super well-prepared, thereby needing fewer and shorter sessions and little contact in between. There are many possible tweaks and customisations, and negotiating is what my coaching is about too.
  • How can I support your work apart from being a coaching client?
    Aw, thanks! I would really appreciate it if you could: refer a friend; share my content with your network; leave a tip; follow me on LinkedIn; and/or leave me a message. I would love to hear from you!

Book a Discovery Call

Wondering if I’m the real deal or just talking a good game? There’s only one way to find out! Let’s have a 25-minute chat and see if there’s a fit. The call is free, and you won’t be pressured into signing up for more.

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