How to Breakdown Your Client’s Resistance (Clients psychology)
What do you do when one of your clients frustrates you so much that you want to pull your hair and scream? You try, but you just can’t get past the wall of resistance and through to the client. They antagonize you so much at every turn and make all your efforts useless. At the end of every session, you realize that you have spent a lot of time on this person, yet, achieved little or no results. This can drain you and even affect your output with other clients.
According to a 2017 LinkedIn report, learning how to coach others is a major leadership priority for organizations today. As a coach, consultant or service business owner, you need to learn and grow some hardcore skills that will gradually help you break through your clients’ resistance and make them coachable and resourceful.
This will make your job much easier, making you more productive and in turn helping the client achieve the desired life changing outcome.
We have rounded up a list of things to do when you have a stubborn tough-as-nut resistant client. When you encounter such clients and you’re not getting desirable results, pull up this list and check out what you’re not doing right. The malleability of your clients begins with a diced-with-precision coaching blueprint.
If after this, your client is still resistant, then maybe it’s time to fire them from your service.
Find Their Motivation
Find what triggered your client to seek your service in the first place through strategic and effective questioning techniques. Find the bridge between their goals and the service you are offering to them. Find how you can make an impact. Understand what things are most important to them and why.
Help clients find their reality and work from there. Do not introduce what you think is right to them without knowing their reality. Use questions to dig into and understand your clients’ vision. Find out their ideas on success and how eager they are for it.
Decide to be an equal partner through the journey, rather than a superior. It is only when you have reached the source of their motivation that you can really feel and connect to them.
You will put yourself in their shoes at every step and this will help you be a better guide. Beyond a client’s compliance, consistent change takes commitment! You can only work out a commitment from your clients if you start with them from the source. You care to know their motives, what drives them and how to hop in.
Set Well Defined Goals
Embarking on any journey with your client without setting clearly defined goals is a prelude to failure. It is very important for coaches to apply effective parameters to help clients achieve their aims and goals for seeking your services. This will help your client track progress, adhere to rules and reduce lags.
That said, we have the effective method of goal setting. This method will help you set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and with a timeline. With this, the client will always stay motivated, even without your bidding.
Specific goals show a roadmap of where you are heading and what you aim to accomplish. These goals should be clearly cut and easy to understand. For instance, instead of “I want to make money this month”, say “I want to make $50k this month”. This is more specific.
Measurable goals help you and the client track progress the client is making towards the goal. If the goals are not measurable, you cannot determine if a client is progressing or lagging, you will not be able to record the pace of this progress either. Instead of saying “I want to sell five houses”, say “I want to sell five semidetached houses”. This will help you measure what you have done.
Attainable goals will make clients work committedly without unhealthy pressure. Goals should be realistic and achievable for your clients. An attainable goal will encourage the zeal to see their program through. Better they surpass that goal than not meet up.
When you set an unattainable goal for your clients, they begin to work under unhealthy pressure. Some clients will give up, while the competitive one will work in a craze. If they don’t meet up, this could do a lot of damage to their emotions and they would shut down or get depressed. They feel they are not doing enough. When in reality, they are even doing more than enough.
Becoming an ideal weight from morbidly obese in a week is impossible, but losing 5-9lb in a month is attainable.
Relevant goals are essential to stir the clients’ motivation. Goals must be in sync with the clients’ interest, skills, expertise and abilities. For instance, a marathon is the worst approach to help a morbidly obese person lose weight. Begin by drawing up a healthy meal plan, then move to stationary biking- consistent short walks, cardio, move the game up as they get lighter and watch the results show.
Timeline is essential when setting goals for a client. There should be a long term and short term deadline to achieving a particular goal. This is a way to monitor and evaluate the client as the client will stay on track and occupied with meeting target. For instance, a client may want to lose 60lbs in one year. A short term goal is having them lose 5lbs every month, to total 60lbs in a year which is the long term goal. This is attainable and with a timeline.
The client may end up losing over 5lbs a month and more than 60lbs in a year, because the goals were specific, attainable, and measurable with a timeline.
A coaching relationship without trust between you and your client has no foundation. Sooner or later, you will meet a lot of resistance; clients will always have their guard up, frustration will set in on your part, which will affect output and results.
Building trust between you and your client begins with you. Relate to your clients with an open mind, unbiased and without judgment. Believe in them, even if they are the most lost causes you have seen. It does a lot for your abilities as a coach and their willingness to work with you.
People can subconsciously feel energies from other persons no matter how discreet they are. If you judge your client, are insincere in your care towards them, your clients will feel it. They will pick on it and block you out by raising their guards. This makes your job really hard and efforts wasted.
If you build trust with your clients by earning it through integrity, care, sincerity and an open mind- they will let down their guard and let you into their most vulnerable part. They will be willing to let you work with them and accept your suggestions. Only trust can earn you that.
One of the hardest truths to accept for a coach is the fact that clients are adults, sane and empowered enough to make their own decisions. But you are entitled by your job as a coach to explain the consequences of refusing to make that change. This clarifies that the consequence will not be on you. As such, you do not drag or berate a client when they don’t show commitment to your program.
Create a safe space for them to express themselves instead, and find out what they would rather do. Go ahead to explore this option with them to their best interests. Doing this will open them to exploring your own choices.
You can also introduce curiosity. This is what successful coaches do. When a client does not show commitment, bring curiosity in with a lot of “what ifs” if they fail to follow through on your suggestions. This make clients lower their guards, think about the situation, get new insights and decide to change.
At the end of the day, the option of choice should be open. You should do your stellar job as a coach, give all the world class support, but the choice to accept or not rests on the client. Accept that and you will work better with your clients.
Clients will not make a move or take action, unless there is some measure of confidence in them. Let your clients know that you are there with them every step of the way. Build their confidence by reminding them of everything they are good at.
Remind them of the amazing abilities they possess and everything they have accomplished. Show them their strengths, and let them know what is working already. Praise them when they get it right and encourage them always.
Silence and observation are two of the most powerful coaching tools. When your client is airing their stories, opinions or goals… be present in mind and body. While a client talks, a lot of information, beyond what the client says is given in the process.
Silence and observation will help you get more information from the eyes, tone of voice, gesticulations- and body language which the client may not even be aware of. You are receptive to what is happening in the moment, instead of visualizing stories in your head.
Allow the client take the center stage, and then focus on the client without interrupting. Bring conflicting lapses to their attention with permission. Do not critic, but be very objective. For instance, you can say “I noticed that even though you say you want to scale up your business to $150k in 6 weeks, your body language says you do not think it’s possible.” Then watch and listen to the client in silence from then on.
When you practice presence with your clients, you will pick up information beyond words that will help your coaching and the client.
Show Integrity and Compassion
Integrity, honesty and vulnerability are few of the easiest way to get your clients to give in. These factors are what create the basis of trust and subsequent breakdown of resistance in a client-coach relationship. Without these elements, your client is simply paying you to have a chat with you and go home. No impact or progress seen.
How much do you care for your client and how sincere are you in your care? Are you passionate about helping this client or you care only about your pay? Do you intend by all reasonable means to help the client see results and get better or you want to do your bit, take your money and go? Clients see these things and they feel it too.
It is also a smart move to show your clients some vulnerability. You are the expert, that’s why they came to you, and we understand that. But you are not all knowing. There are times you get stuck, are in a dilemma or totally do not know what to do. Let the client know and ask for their input.
This shows the client that you are human and vulnerable. It lets them trust you and in the process, let down their guard, allowing you into their situation. Seeking their opinion is ways to allow them contribute to the decision making of their own progress. They will feel safe in their vulnerability, because they are not alone.
However, you should help the client move on from consistent vulnerability. Encouraging and taking in never ending vulnerability and powerlessness is a shield the client hides behind to avoid commitment. Allowing them always get away with it communicates to them that they are indeed powerless. Empathize with them, but avoid sympathy.
As a coach, it’s your job to keep your client focused on the goal and ensure progressive growth. This you can do by making the goals and distilled steps the focal point of the whole process.
Allow clients to assess themselves and give you an honest feedback. Feedback is mandatory for tracking progress. The aim of your job isn’t only to ensure stellar results, but ensure that your clients grow in the process.
They can only achieve this growth if they are honestly accountable to themselves.
According to Mitchell, “Resistance goes two ways; the challenge is to find more creative and different ways to interact.” There is nothing more true. Coaches should not approach clients from the perspective of creating rapid changes without resistance.
Coaches should rather work on creative and effective modes of communication and allow change occur naturally. This will result from allowing a client explore their own world, with your guide and support.
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