by Cara Lumen
I was going in circles with a client – she didn’t seem to remember her own decisions and was very caught in the emotion caused by the fact that she had put something off till the last minute and it might not be ready. I found myself creating all sorts of ways to make the situation come out all right for both of us.
What do I need to address?
It took me two sessions to figure out we were going it circles. In the second session I found we had made absolutely no progress because she had not made a key decision to make a particular change and had not taken any action on it so we essentially had not made any progress that week. And a coach is there to create progress.
I had to look at her decision making process.
On another call she had been too busy doing something else to address her homework. Again very little progress was made.
I needed to help her address her unwillingness to take the necessary action before we could move forward.
She kept saying, “I don’t understand.” But what she was really saying was “I want you to do it for me.” And that’s not empowering. I am a teaching coach. I help people understand why they are doing what they are doing.
So I had more to address than mere action steps. I had bad habits and emotional blocks to release too.
Look beyond the obvious action steps when you start to work with someone. Examine their work habits and follow through and resistance.
Why me, why now?
You can imagine that as this coaching relationship progressed I had to think “”why me, why now?” But there is a good lesson in everything even if you have to look for it. I had helped this person in the past but it had been several years. I knew how she works; I know the distractions in her life. And I said “yes” anyway.
In case we all forget, it’s OK to say “no” to a potential client. We do have the right to refuse to work with people; we do get to select our perfect client.
But a lot of good came out of this circumstance. What I didn’t have set up in my business at the time was a good way to do the technical set up around creating a WordPress blog that some clients cannot do. What I wanted to do was help people get their blog set up but I was thinking my part was more along the lines of the writing strategy, creating cornerstone content and the optimizing that goes with writing blog posts. But the technical part is not my forte. This client gave me a gift – she had a need I could not fill and I went out and filled it. I formulated a new business partnership with a woman who does know the technical aspects of Word Press. We are the Magnetic Blog Builders www.magneticblogbuilders.com and we came into being because of this client.
There is a reason for the choices we make and the opportunities that are presented to us.
How emotion clouds the mind
I have a relative who is going through a divorce. I am her sounding board and sometimes a guide. It is an emotional time for her and I see her going in circles, not able to absorb some of the crucial decision-making factors, not able to consider the reality of down-sized living and still hanging on to past dreams that will no longer come true. She can’t hear the advice she is getting. She jumps from one idea to another, never following through on any of it. And she is operating from only her own narrow frame of reference so she’s going down paths that do not lead where she needs to go next. Emotion clouds the mind. Anxiety gets you nowhere.
Sometimes you have to help the client separate the emotion from the need.
Look for new ways to disseminate information
OK, I have a person to help that is emotionally charged, not educated in the next necessary steps, and it’s my job to help her get the best results. What do I do?
What handouts can I make to explain her next steps? Every time I coach a person through a process or answer a question they pose, I write it as an article and put it in my coaching library. My coaching library is well stocked. Maybe I have something to address her need and maybe I have to write something new.
How should I outline the coaching sessions to be certain one step is completed before moving on? Create a Project Management form. Send the next steps to them in the Coaching Prep Form. Even your intake form could give you a clue as to how well they follow through. Get clear how your client processes their work as early as you can.
How can I reassure them we will ultimately address every piece but not all at once? I do that by periodically reiterating their vision. I assure them this is another step toward their goals and acknowledge them for their success. Have them acknowledge their own progress on a regular basis. I use my Momentum Builders 5:15 form.
How do I keep their frenetic energy from putting me off stride? That’s a hard one. Breathe. Keep very calm when you are talking to them. Drop your own personal agenda and tune in to what they need next and try to deliver it. It may be reassurance, a boost in confidence or an actually detailed explanation of their next step. What do they need – answer their need not yours.
Stay in your role as coach
There is a difficulty that arises if you get too involved in your client’s story and circumstance. Picture a high wall with you on top of it and your scattered client at the bottom. From where you are you can see the whole view, you can see the possibilities; you can even see the path that is open once they get over the wall. You have to stay high on that wall with your higher vision. If you drop down to be with the person who is scattered or confused and buy into their energy, there you will both be, looking at the bottom of the wall and seeing nothing but the barriers. Do not get emotionally involved with your scattered clients – it serves no one. Be patient, creative and persevere. And stay in your role as coach.
Patience and Perseverance
If you have people like these in your life or business you have a choice. You let them go (easy enough with a client, not easy with a family member) or you set your boundaries, define your limits, put on your most patient hat and stay with them and their process. You offer only small steps, constant clarity of information in small sequences so simplistically drawn that they get it. You need to drop your own agenda and expectations and set new ones that are based on the reality you see before you.
What tactics do you use when faced with a scattered client, customer or friend? I’d love to know.
© 2010 Cara Lumen
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