“Am I making you uncomfortable?" - Every Coach, Ever
Fellow coaches: you know the drill. After a few years in our practice, we don't even need to ask the question any more. Body language speaks volumes during face-to-face sessions. You can even hear it on the phone -- it comes through as a stutter or sudden backtracking. We know when we are making our clients uncomfortable and we need to be okay with doing it.
Tell me how often you’ve heard any or all of the following:
• ‘I just don’t know where to go next.’
• ‘I know something is missing, I just can’t quite put a finger on it.’
• ‘I feel that I’m destined for more, I just don’t know what more is.'
Clients who ask this are often frustrated with themselves, frustrated with not knowing, and frustrated with not knowing what to do about their feelings.
For anyone out there with these frustrations and for all you coaches who have clients facing the same issues: you are not alone. The fact that you wanted to seek out coaching to do something about it is half the battle won.
What I love about a client coming with this issue is that 1) they are coming to coaching because they want to and 2) they are ready to do something about it.
Why do you think I say the ‘want to’ is important? Well, if you’re a coach, you know how difficult the process can be with a client who simply does not want coaching.
9 out of 10 times they’ll turn around during the process, I'll give most hesitant clients the benefit of the doubt. But if they are hell-bent on rebelling against whoever ‘forced’ them to get coaching -- whether an employer, a spouse, a parent (and usually they are footing the bill) -- they'll do their own sabotaging.
C’mon, we all know them! During the entire first session they are sitting across from you with arms crossed, nodding as if waiting for you to ‘prove’ to them why you want to coach them.
For any novice coaches who are still trying to appease them: stop it, please.
Don’t be afraid to stand your ground. You will reach a point where your potential clients will be proving to you why they want to be your client.
The other side of that coin is that, when they are willing and curious, the results are magical. I’m not saying it’ll necessarily be a cake walk, but it is going to be a beautiful experience for both of you.
You see, they are wiling and ready to at least get motivated to take their life by the balls.
Even in instances where all the stars are aligned, it is imperative that we recognize when you've hit a plateau. If your clients are getting "comfortable," that's usually a good time to step it up a notch.
If you are a coach you should not only accept making your clients uncomfortable -- you should possibly strive for it. I’m not talking about clipping your toe nails in front of them when you’re coaching at a Starbucks. I’m talking about tough questions. I'm talking about not pulling punches because you trust your client to be brave enough and ready enough to grow from it.
Some coaches ask for permission. That's comforting. My comfort zone coaching, which is the most results-oriented coaching you can get (in my opinion), doesn't go off permission. I stopped asking for permission to ask tough questions a long time ago.
Sometimes, our clients need to be jolted and surprised with a bombshell. If we’re afraid to make them uncomfortable, we’re hindering their growth and progress more than you know.
I challenge you to challenge your clients. Do it from a place of respect for their potential. Trust that they're better than a difficult question or idea. Trust that they can answer honestly and be honest with themselves.
That can’t happen if we’re afraid to make them uncomfortable. Make it part of your agreement, make this part of your initial conversation about what the coaching is going to look like. Give yourself and your client license to go to places that you know will help them soar higher than ever before. That's why they hire us, after all!
Jay Jawitz, a brilliant recovery coach and good friend of mine, puts it brilliantly: “You’re not being an an asshole, you’re being a stand for my results.”
So please, if you are being coached, allow your coach to make you uncomfortable. Let them know from the beginning you’re not a wuss and you have thick skin. By the way, if you are a wuss or are easily offended - grow a pair as soon as possible. I promise your coaching experience will be better for it.
And coaches, please dare to go there. As I mentioned, set the agreements from the beginning so that you are not stunted where the process will call for a little uncomfortability.
You won’t lose a client just because you encourage them to stretch. Or maybe you will (I don’t know) but coach them to the very best of your ability. You have an obligation to do everything you can to make them grow. Chances are they'll understand.
Know that bringing that out is going to require a bit of challenging, a bit of going into those uncomfortable places.
Simply put, if you’re not making them uncomfortable you may not be doing it right.