In the lead up to publication, I’ll be sharing excerpts from The Concise Coaching Handbook. This is from the introduction to part 2.
Psychological resistance is the phenomenon often encountered in counseling in which patients either directly or indirectly oppose changing their behavior or refuse to discuss, remember, or think about presumably relevant experiences.
Most psychology today is still based on the idea that if a counselor helps a client discover and confront what is unhealthy or what is going wrong, than it can be fixed. However, even when clients WANT to change, the counseling process itself is expected to produce resistance that delays the change most people (and counselors) so desperately want.
For years, psychological resistance has been thought to be part of the nature of people. Clients want to change limiting or destructive behaviors, but it’s scary to change. It’s unfamiliar. We have to give up patterns that feel comfortable, even when they’re not working.
All of these things are often true about many people.
But when I started coaching, I didn’t experience client resistance much, if at all.
Not only were clients able to identify what they wanted and then change behaviors more easily with coaching than through counseling, but they didn’t consciously or unconsciously fight me or themselves. Sometimes they couldn’t wait to start on their “plan”. And they demonstrated more consistent follow-through in executing their plans.
It got me thinking.
What if the resistance and delays in desired behavior change are due to how counseling is fundamentally structured, versus due to a false expectation that people inherently resist what will benefit them?
Most coaches believe in and use techniques that help uncover a client’s strengths, and what deeply motivates them. This approach easily assists clients to increase the positive actions they take on behalf of their lives. Simply taking those actions makes them feel better.
People seem to be less resistant to change, when the change is going to be built on what is right with them, vs. changing what is wrong with them.
I found the final coaching key to bypassing client resistance seemed to be predicated on one other simple factor. Most, if not all of the action steps come from the clients themselves. This may seem either obvious or foolhardy. But the effect is quite radical in bypassing resistance.
Coaching clients rarely refuse to discuss or change behaviors because all the changes they make or want to make are things they have completely bought into. They don’t resist because they don’t want to resist, consciously or unconsciously.
I learned when I tailor the agenda to the client’s agenda at every single step of the way, both directly (by asking permission) and indirectly (by following and amplifying the energy cues that get a client feeling positive, excited, and ready to take action); I help produce the results the client wants.
The Concise Coaching Handbook will teach you many of the simple coaching techniques that helped revolutionize my approach to assisting people.
If you are a manager, supervisor, or leader, it is my hope that these techniques will enable you to become more effective in your management, supervision, and leadership.
If you are a parent, it is my hope that these techniques will enable you to be a more effective parent.
And if you can completely commit to a coach approach, and what it means at an individual and group level, you will help transform our world.
May we pursue our paths, committing to transformation of our world,