Coaching to Overcome Stubborness

When it comes to life coaching, each client truly has their own personality – and that personality can come out for better and worse. Self-motivation, perseverance, and tenacity are the traits we all admire and try to find in our clients – but others, like stubbornness can serve as our (and our clients’) nemesis, agrees The Life Coaching Academy

Stubbornness can rear its head in a variety of ways when coaching clients, but one of the most common times to make an appearance tends to happen when our clients are experiencing dissonance.

It’s quite common for people to get a bit defensive when questioned as to the effectiveness of something they are currently doing, or to be challenged to do something differently. It’s always easier to excuse or blame than it is to fix.

For example, that shocked reaction you get when you start working with a client who wants to improve their closeness with their husband. Their startled discovery that we focus the coaching session on not changing the husband, but changing the way that the client communicates and interacts with her husband.

Perhaps in this instance, the coaching client will lay down stubbornness as a way of hiding her own misgivings or as a way of protecting herself from admitting to her personal flaws?

This stubbornness to change habits and admit that, perhaps, our current ways are not perfect holds back the progress of our clients (and ourselves as coaches). So how do you help your client to overcome stubbornness and grow and succeed?

There are several techniques that you might consider.

For starters, have your client write down the scenario, and then write their current response – sometimes putting things on paper helps the client to disassociate enough to see the picture more realistically.

Try to engage your client in scenario-based role play in which you use a trigger word or noise to acknowledge when a point of stubbornness occurs – a buzzer, whistle, or keys jingling often work perfectly. Anything that will break the state and help the coaching client to have more awareness of their stubborn streak. This awareness is the first critical component in overcoming stubbornness.

Another thing you might try is planned responses. Work with your coaching client to identify the scenarios in which their stubbornness might appear and plan ahead to find ways that they could respond differently. By having a planned response, the coaching client is less likely to engage in stubborn behaviors and will instead promote positive progress and relationships.

In extreme situations, try calling it. Ask your coaching client, ‘How is refusing to do this serving you in the long term?’. ‘How does this approach impact on your relationships with others’. ‘What’s the real issue here, why are you resisting?’

We’d love to hear your real life examples of helping clients (or perhaps yourself) to overcome stubbornness. What has and hasn’t worked for you, or what advice would you give other coaches on this topic?