As NAWBO ladies and business owners we have to learn to work with our clients. Let’s face it, we are grateful for their business. But what happens when your client becomes resistant to change?

Back in graduate school, I experienced resistance with a few of my clients. Each week I would come to my supervisor and express my exhaustion and confusion regarding clients and their resistance on wanting help from therapy. I’ll never forget when my supervisor said, “Never work harder than your client at something only they can change”. It was like magic when she said these words, and I was thinking, wow I feel silly, I can’t do the work for these people if they are the ones wanting to change. Now as a Life Coach, I am still reminding myself this as I collaborate with other coaches. At times effective coaching is difficult when I see solutions for clients, however I am hesitant on expressing these to them because my hopes are for clients to see their solutions themselves. Unpacking resistance involves the process of collaborating as a coach to help lead clients to a point where they will be able to find the answers when we aren’t there. If a client is resistant and constantly coming up with excuses, they may not be miserable enough to change. Thus nothing happens. This is the frustrating part because as business owners we may become invested in how our services can help clients enrich their lives. If clients are coming up with reasons why they are unable to carry out a desired goal, then they aren’t ready for change. Knowing this now completely takes the pressure off me because it’s not my fault if clients don’t see change when they don’t invest. When this happens we simply need to re-evaluate our client relationships, possibly scale down client goals, and integrate something more manageable and attainable to their given position in life.

So relax and give yourself a pat on the back. Try bringing up this very topic of resistance during your next client interaction and see how they respond. As business owners, we want to provide our clients with the best services and products, but we can only help clients initiate their own help, not if we do the work for them.

Brandi Martin, M.A., Professional Life Coach

brandimartinBrandi has her own Life Coaching Practice in Orange County. Her theme of balance is incorporated in her three step program. After receiving her Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy, she decided to specialize in working with families, teens, and parents to help them find their path to peace and acceptance.