How to help a consistently struggling customer

It was in 2009. My husband and I had our gymnasium camps and just had our first child. I knew I did not want to travel anymore to talk with a new baby at home and I decided to concentrate on online training and coaching instead. I loved helping clients change their lives and this seemed like the perfect opportunity to marry what I loved best with the flexibility and the program I was looking for. I was added to customers who wanted a deeper dive in diet and behavior and were excited to get to work.

At first I loved it. Customers adopted the changes we discussed and went ahead and felt like a rock star. I felt great to know that I was helping them to reach their goals and to create a program that worked. Friends said. I got more customers. And then I hit a street hit.

A customer did not follow any of my eating strategies – despite planning around every obstacle and talking about things she could try every week. I sent reminders. I continued. When we got to the phone to discuss the weekly session, we felt like a confessor of what he did not do. I would like to think harder and offer new suggestions, tweaking and offering new meal ideas and snacks and new strategies, with just no effect.

Finally I remember telling her, "I can not help you. I gave you every strategy and tool that I can, and at this point you have to decide to apply them to your life. Until you do this, you will not be successful and you will not make any progress. "


It hurts to remember it now. After all, I can see how much that customer failed and all the things I would do differently – but more so in a minute. Because what I remember clearly at that moment was not that I was not able to train her, but that I was just a failure. I was not the rock star or the expert who had all the answers. None of my responses worked for her. And if I could not help this customer, then how could I make a bus?

Looking back over those days, I was not Really a coach. I sold a program with a specific approach to eating and fitness behaviors that worked for many people and it also worked for me. I was good at managing my clients about how to use my principles better. I had no idea how to guide my clients to find their own principles and answers. This will not come for a few years.

I continued my workout for about a year, of course from time to time running on customers who do not come in contact with my programs and my answers and I will feel again defeated. Finally, I decided to stop individual coaching and return to small group programs. I started talking again.

A question of mentality

As soon as I was familiar with Carol Dweck's work on mentality, I began to see my first mistake in my online coaching days. I had a steady attitude.

If you are not familiar with Dweck's work, he is a Stanford University psychologist who is studying how we think about our talents and abilities and the impact it has on learning, performance, upbringing, sports,

In fact, people fall into one of the two categories: stable mentality – those who believe that intelligence, skills and abilities are stable and their potential is at birth and – mentality – those who believe that skills can be developed, skills can learn and the potential is virtually unlimited with hard work and effort.

People with a steady mindset focus on proving their worth and value. If you are a steady mentor, you expect to be the smartest in the room. When it comes to your relationship with your customers, you are the expert with the answers. And while theoretically the reason customers are trained to help them succeed, your choices will always come back to proving your worth as a coach.

I remember to discover this concept and feel such relief "Do you mean I do not have to keep all the answers? Can I meet my client wherever they are?"

I realized my past mistakes. Assuming I had to have all the answers, I did not authorize my clients to find what was possible for them. By giving my clients what to do, I took the changeover process out of their hands. And with the quick offer of alternatives and new strategies I took responsibility for their success.

The struggle for consistency

If you are in a behavioral change business, it is inevitable to meet customers who are consistently fighting. Whether customers are saying that their goal is to reduce body fat but are unwilling to follow or change their eating habits, those who say they want to keep progress when they travel and then skip workouts or those who make quick fixes and magical spheres your constant reminders that these do not work.

Poor customer consistency can be difficult at any stage of your career. It can be a source of frustration, leave you uncertain about your abilities and abilities, and can even lead to exhaustion. When dealing with issues of consistency, we must remember that it is not necessarily the fault of the customer. Very often we are quick to think about what the customer does not do, instead of recognizing, as in my case, perhaps the way we train the customer first.

When our customers are not consistent try to tell us something. Perhaps they say:

  • "This requires too much from me, it is very difficult, very strict, etc."
  • "This is not something I think I can do. I do not think I have the energy or resources for it."
  • "I'm afraid of failure."
  • "I'm afraid of success"

And anything else in the meantime.

When we get a "comply or die" mentality with customers, we ignore their unique history, experience and basic concerns.

Even worse, perhaps we take someone who has little faith in himself and validates all the fears and reasons why he believes he can not be successful in the first place. If you have consistently engaging customers, help them get the change process. Use these steps to see if you can get to know them along the way.

Start with you

Initially, check your mindset. Do you feel responsible for getting answers for your customer? Do you concentrate on your client achieving results rather than his experience?

It's easy to fall into a routine with customers who "work". Without realizing it, you can do what feels best for you instead of what works best for your client. If this is the case, turn to a person-centered approach.

Focus on your customer

One of the best tools to help you focus on the customer is to use Motivational Interviewing (MI) and its related concepts in your coaching practice.

The film interview as a practice is extensive and more training information can be found at However, we can use some of the key concepts from MI to better understand our customers and improve our clients' results.

1. Develop great listening skills

In order to adopt a person-centered approach, we must be willing to become curious. Ask open questions that start with what, how, why, or tell me about. Yes or there are no questions that prevent the flow of information between you and your client, but open questions can give you information that you do not know or do not want to ask. Think:

Coach: "Ready to Train?"
Customer: "Never."
Coach: "Haha! Let's go."


Coach: "How was your day?"
Customer: "Exhausting."
Coach: "Tell me about it, how?"
Customer: "We had a flood in part of our office last night and had to unpack and carry 32 records table boxes to the other side of the building.
Coach: "It sounds like it was. If you feel exaggerated, we could focus more on mobility and basic training today."

In the first example, you can get to the fact that the customer is out of work. Or maybe you can not, and perhaps just wonder why its performance seems to suffer, or it could end up feeling tired and painful. The open question allows you to get more information than otherwise.

2. Use Reflective Listening to search for clarification

When you participate in open questions, it is useful to check understanding, reflecting your client's words back to them.

Customer: "And when I come home, I just feel finished and I never want to cook."
Coach: "So you feel very tired to cook?"
Customer: "No. I just hate cooking, it takes so much energy to do things I do not want to do."
Coach: "I know this feeling. What do you think you would be willing to do?"

3. Understanding that ambiguity is a normal part of behavior change

Ambiguity refers to the existence of mixed feelings about something. Most of us are confronted with the choices we make every day. We know that we will feel better than eating salad with lean protein, but we also like burgers and potatoes. We know that we need to sleep more, but Netflix is ​​very imposing.

When you work with your clients, help them see that this conflict is natural and then help them work through it. To do this, help customers identify:

The benefits of staying – What's good to not change? Asking what is good for keeping things as they are, you can see what benefit the customer sees will not change.

The challenges of change – Here you can better understand your customers based on their concerns and concerns about making changes.

The benefits of change – What's good to make the changes you want?

The negatives of his own – What's wrong not to change?

Hope and optimism for change – What do they see for themselves? This is a crucial step, because your customers are finally keeping the answers.

How to visualize the change – Ask your clients to imagine the change that resembles them. If they could change, what would they say and feel?

Walking through customers through these steps helps them understand that there may be reasons why change feels difficult and why they may not be ready for it. It normalizes the change process and allows your customers to work through their ambivalence until they reach a point where the benefits of change compensate for the negatives of their stay.

4. Identify the discrepancy

Customers may not see the difference between what they say they want for themselves and where they are today. For example, a customer may say that they really want to call in their diet, but they often allow their partner to talk to them to make less of healthy food choices. By pointing to the mismatch, you can explore the potential challenges and obstacles to making this change.

5. Roll With Resistance

This last point may be the most important step. When a customer is particularly resistant to suggestions and ideas, avoid getting in and out with them. Instead, leave the need to drive them in one direction. They do not have to change. Knowing that you have their backs regardless of the choices they make helps your client to trust that you see them first as a human being and that they are responsible for deciding what is happening. It empowers them to stay in the status quo or decide to go ahead and show them that they have not been drawn into this decision.

One last thought

You will come across customers who, for whatever reason, are an energy drain. Perhaps it's not a good personality fight, maybe the customer needs extra support outside of your scope, or perhaps seek training that is inconsistent with your approach.

If you find that you and your client are not logged in and that you allow them to be eliminated after each workout, do not be afraid to shoot a client. Not everyone is a good match and if someone leaves you in a negative mindset or you feel like you have less energy for other customers, yourself or your family, it's time to say goodbye. If you follow this approach, try to offer the client alternatives and, of course, be as gentle and clear as you can be.

Consecutive games are a normal part of the behavioral change process.

With curiosity, smoothing out challenges and helping your customers through ambivalence, you can help your customers reach the goals they want.

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