How to have that tough conversation with a clientYesterday I wrote about working with clients that aren’t motivated. There’s no reason to keep working with a person who doesn’t want to change or is for some reason not able to change. Sometimes the person is overwhelmed or distracted for legitimate reasons: a spouse diagnosed with cancer, a family crisis or emergency. In those cases, they often need to shift their focus. In other cases, they’re not getting traction because they don’t really want to work on the issue or change. Other times they have life issues that keep tripping them up and a counselor is what’s really needed, not a coach.

The challenge is that you as a the coach may not know which situation you’re facing. The way you’re seeing it may not be correct. Rather than make an assumption, a conversation is in order. Open the dialogue about what blockages you’re facing. How do you have that conversation?

“I’ve noticed X and Y. This leads me to believe Z. What’s going on?” For example: “I’ve noticed that the last three times you’ve committed to action items that you didn’t follow through on them. This makes me wonder whether you’re really serious about addressing this issue. Help me understand what’s going on.”

Sometimes what’s when you get a major life situation that they’re going through. That may mean this isn’t the right time to deal with the issue.  Other times they just feel overwhelmed. If they acknowledge that, you can help them figure out the blockages and strategies for staying on track.

A conversation along those lines helps both of you figure out what’s going on. Do they really want to work on this? Is this the right time? Do they have other consuming issues keeping them from this focus? Depending on what’s going on, you can avoid wasting their time and yours with coaching that won’t be effective.