Ever wonder why some clients just won’t listen? Perhaps they’re always frustrated during appointments. Perhaps they just can’t seem to make progress or perhaps they’ve had a history of jumping from coach to coach. This can be a red flag for a client, but it can also indicate that the client has never had a true connection with the coach. And the best way to connect with clients is not only to listen but to show actively that the client’s own words are being heard and understood. The way that you confirm this is a skill that can be learned and utilized to build a strong client-coach bond and really lay the foundation for change.
For example, when I let my clients speak for 5 to 10 minutes at the beginning of our calls I hear lots of emotions, symptoms, complaints, and frustrations. And if I can accurately reflect back to that client what they have just told me they feel seen at a very deep level. The client might say to me, “I can’t lose any weight I have no libido I drag myself out of bed every day and I don’t enjoy the things I used to do”. If I say, “great- I have a solution for all of that”, then the client doesn’t know that I’ve actually heard them. Instead what I can say to this client is “It sounds to me that your libido is lagging, you feel frustrated with not being able to lose weight, and you’re not finding the same joy and energy for things that you used to do is that right?”
It seems like a simple act, but by saying this the client now knows that you actually heard the words she said, you identified with those words and this gives the client space to expand on these things at a deeper level. Sometimes this exploration is incredibly healing and establishes a very deep connection with the coach and client.
Think about how you feel when a friend or parent actually listens to you versus simply giving you advice or a solution or telling their own story. Think about the
providers with whom you’ve had the deepest connection. Perhaps you’ve never had a deep connection with a provider because nobody takes the time to do this.
But this is a superpower. As I have found after helping hundreds and hundreds of clients, taking the time to connect on a deep level is the foundation for a relationship that incites change, ownership, and healing. This is a skill that can be developed whether you’re a man or a woman; a seasoned coach or a newbie. And it will make you a truly successful coach. But it takes practice. Using your brain to accurately repeat back to the client a string of words or sentences takes brainpower and skill. It’s easy to get lost in what to say next or to get distracted with something else.
How do you become better at this skill? Start with a loved one or friend. Role play scenarios and conversations and practice accurately responding back to your partner very similar words, if not the exact words, that they used to describe themselves. Then start to use this with strangers and acquaintances. As you notice the change in responses you will know that your techniques are becoming more and more refined. Then employ the same techniques with your health coaching clients and prospects. This is not a sales strategy, but it helps your clients see you as someone who is genuinely interested in them, someone who generally listens to them, and someone they can count on.