What to do with a client who is unfocussed?

Ever had a client who wasn't following through on their action steps or kept switching directions?

Thanks to Tina for sending in this question. It's a good one and bound to happen to us all at some point.

Her question was around fit and specifically her experience with a client who is not following through and is trying a number of different diets at one time.

Here are some tips for working with an unfocussed client:

1. Be aware of red flags during the Discovery Call. First if you notice any of this in the discovery session and know for sure they aren't a good fit, you just don't even invite them into coaching and end the call by using one of the following options:

"It doesn't feel like we'd be a great fit at this time, I'm not sure my coaching program is right for you, I'm sensing this is not the right time for you, etc."

"Nice speaking with you today, what do you feel are the first 3 things you can do to work on this?"

Or simply give them a couple suggestions and let them be on their way.

2. Remind the client of their responsibilities. If you get into a coaching relationship and find the client is all over the place, not doing action steps, not following through, then first step is to you go back to your agreement. Remind them of their roles and responsibilities, that they committed to doing the work. It's part of your responsibility to evaluate the coaching relationship along the way and address issues as they come up.

"Just wanted to check-in, how are you finding the coaching process so far? What's working? What do we need to tweak, improve? What feedback do you have for me?"

Then you have an opportunity to share observations or feedback with the client. "I'm noticing that you are having a hard time focussing on your action steps. What can I do to support you in sticking to these going forward?"

3. Experimenting is okay. If the client is experimenting with different nutrition approaches to see what works best for them, then it can be part of the exploration process. If you are concerned about progress, you can make an observation or share an insight such as:

Highlight strengths and values: "I'm noticing you like to try new things all the time, so I sense you have a value around variety and keeping things interesting. Is that true? I notice each week you research all kinds of different approaches to weight loss. I appreciate your desire to learn and gather new information."

"May I make an observation? I'm noticing that each week you are trying something new. I'm wondering how beneficial this is for you? How is it working? What are you learning? Are you finding this to be a helpful process?"

"May I share an insight or suggestion? From what I know about behavioural change, it is great to experiment with things, and it's important to do that in an intentional way so you can really see the benefits. I wonder if it would be beneficial to plan out an approach to the various diets you might want to try?"

4. Consistency is key. Educate the client a little bit about why it's important to be consistent.

"May I share a little bit about why I believe it's important to be consistent? It is important when you are trying out new approaches, that you are consistent with something long enough so you can evaluate the results, see the benefits and make educated decisions. I also believe in not mixing and matching different aspects of different diets at one time because it is very hard to really evaluate what is working and what isn't. How would it feel to identify which one you want to try first and then develop a plan together for how you'll experiment with it?"

Bottom line: if you feel the client isn't upholding their roles and responsibilities outlined in your agreement, then it might be time for a heart-to-heart.

If you try these coach-like approaches and still see no change, if the client is not making progress, can't stick to their action steps, it may be time it might be time to discuss if coaching is the right approach for them and ultimately you may need to end the coaching relationship.

Over to you. Have you every experienced a client like this? What did you do? Tell me in the comments...

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