I have heard this lament over and over again from consultants and advisers. “My clients pay me good money to give them my expert advice, but they don’t listen! They keep doing things the way they always have. I can’t get them to act.”
This is a frustrating situation, to say the least. So what do most advisers do? They act like a tourist who doesn’t speak the language – they just shout a little louder, insist a little harder, and eventually throw up their hands and give up.
The coaches who are reading this might be chuckling to themselves right now, or shaking their heads. Because they know the truth – change is hard, and if the client doesn’t completely buy into it, they will never act on it. The best way to create buy-in is for the client to come up with the solution himself.
You might be thinking, what do they need me for, if they can come up with the solution themselves? When it comes to business or any other expertise based coaching, the most successful coach/consultant employs a combination of sharing suggestions and knowledge, with coaching the client through the decision to act, and any obstacles – both internal and external – they might encounter.
How many of you like to be told what to do? How often do you listen when someone gives you advice? I would be willing to bet that even when you ask for advice, you find lots of reasons not to follow it. On the other hand, when you come up with your own solutions, you probably act on it enthusiastically and whole-heartedly, thereby proving your own theory that you are the smartest kid on the block.
The heart of a coaching methodology is to ask the kind of questions that get your client to look at the situation another way. I would call it the “Jeopardy” approach. Turn all of your answers into questions, and see what happens. Get curious, instead of frustrated.
For example, instead of shouting at your client in frustration “THAT APPROACH ISN’T WORKING FOR YOU! YOU NEED TO CHANGE!” Try asking, “how is that approach working for you?” Instead of telling them they need to stop procrastinating and get it done, ask them what’s getting in the way of getting the task done. Then try asking them how putting off the task is making them feel, and how they will feel when they finally get it done. Then get them to commit to a timeframe and viola’ – you see where I’m going with this!
I obviously cannot give you all of the training and experience that you would get from a coaching certification in a simple blog post. But what I can do is ask you this: how would a mindset shift, from “telling” your clients what to do, to “asking” powerful questions, impact the way you work with your clients and the results that you get?