What Should You Do When Your Clients Get Stuck?

To answer this question, you need to start with another one: Why is your client stuck?

You need to consider the answer to this from two perspectives—yours and theirs. Discovering the meaning a client is putting on this (being stuck) is insightful. They may not even consider themselves to be stuck. I have found three responses to be helpful at this point.

How to Respond When a Client Is Stuck

First, look at the meaning you are placing on why the client is stuck. The meaning you put on this should determine how you proceed. You think the client is stuck because __________. Unless you step back and fill in the blank, your perspective will determine how you proceed. Assess how you as a coach are responding and consider some of the possibilities: the client isn’t stepping up OR I’m not a good coach OR some good things can come of this.

Sometimes coaches blame the client or themselves for the client being stuck. But if they can say, “This is great. What are we going to do about this?” then they can move the process forward.

There are times when you need to recognize that someone is stuck by fear. Your service then is to support and encourage them through that fear. If they know they’re stuck by fear, you can ask how they want to manage it: “What do you think you need to do to manage this?” or “How do you want me to help you or push you?” and “What’s the best way for me to do that?” When I can get them to this question, then I’ll agree to do what they’ve requested. Once they’ve told me what to do and given me permission to do it, then we can move forward and see how it works.

Some coaches believe they need to hold people accountable and bring forth the best in them, but that may not be the best service for all clients. Sometimes helping clients discover that there’s a good reason they’re stuck might be the best thing you could do for them. There may not be a conscious awareness of this, but by asking the right questions, you can help them uncover the unconscious reasons. For example, take someone who fears that growing her business will take her away from her family, like it did for her father or mother. You could ask, “When did you decide that growing your business means you can’t be with your family?” and “What if we could discover a way that you could grow your business AND be with your family?” After addressing those answers, you might want to move on to delegation.

The second way to respond when a client is stuck is to say, “Teach me how you are experiencing this so I can get stuck the way you are.” Determine how the client is responding to being stuck. Are they truly exploring what they want? Is it because “part of me wants this or that”? Is there a good reason why they aren’t yet getting what they want?

The third way to respond is to recognize that being stuck may be the best thing for the client. It may come from an ecological reason. An ecological premise addresses that what might seem like a good idea logically might not actually be a good idea. It’s the law of unintended consequences. You have to understand that when somebody gets something, the results will be good AND bad. Sometimes success can have unintended consequences that actually create more problems.

To discover if this might be the reason, you can say, “Remind me what it is we are trying to accomplish.” Once you have reviewed that together, try this prompt, “I’m going to assume that we can do this, but will getting what you want cause unintended consequences?”

Here are more questions you can ask at this point: “When you get what you want, what will the consequences be—both good and bad?” and “How will it affect you and the people that you care about?”

As you try to determine why a client is stuck, remember that one size does not fit all. One of the biggest gifts a coach can have is an ability to be flexible with clients.

P.S. Do you want to share this post? Please do. Just be sure that it remains intact and includes the following bio.

About Terry: Terry Hickey, M.S., is a Certified NLP Professional Coach, Business Trainer and Consultant, a Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming and the co-owner of NLP Advantage Group. Originator of the Belief Breakthrough Method™, Terry specializes in teaching coaches and entrepreneurs how to rapidly resolve limiting beliefs about wealth and success. His tips and strategies can help you launch yourself into the future you want… NOW. http://terryhickey.com/

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