A Coaching Power Tool created by Colin Batchelor
(Wellness Coach, UNITED KINGDOM)
Many people want to move from the place they find themselves to a new location/situation. They may well know where that location/situation is or they may just know that they want to move, but be unsure of the ‘to where’. However for a number of reasons they don’t take that movement, they resist taking that movement.
The resistance can take many forms and can have a variety of causes, if can have a mild impact on someone’s life or it can in extreme circumstances have a dramatic and dangerous affect.
Movement is a process built on awareness and understanding. Awareness of where the client is now, awareness of the journey they need to make. Understanding of how they reached that ‘here and now’ point and what steps they need to take in order to take action, experience movement and start their journey to a better place.
This power tool will look in detail at what forms resistance can take, how it comes about and grows, the risks and dangers associated with resistance as well as the occasions where resistance is actually a useful position to hold. The tool will also look at movement, what we mean by movement, how we can define it, how we can work towards it and how we can manage it and ensure that once we have started in movement we can continue away from the resistance and towards our goal.
The dictionary definitions for Resistance and movement are:
Resistance: The act or power of resisting, opposing, or withstanding. The opposition offered by one thing to another.
Movement: A change of position or location. Actions or activities, as of a person or a body of persons
After a brainstorming exercise I listed some feelings and emotions associated with Resistance and movement.
Resistance: Static, irrational, fear, stopping, blocks, isolation, block, impeding
Movement: Progress, success, achievement, rational, positive, optimistic, travel, mobility, action
So we have negative emotions and thoughts linked in with resistance and positive emotions and thoughts linked in with movement.
I can’t move, I won’t move
Resistance to movement can manifest itself in a number of ways. Often the client will raise a series of arguments or hold a position that they believe present a good reason as to why they cannot take movement.
- What if. The client will have a number of scenarios, these will all be preceded with what if, ‘What if this doesn’t work?’, ‘What if this or that happens?’, ‘What if I have a better offer’ etc
- They have a specific reason not to move, this is often linked to an underlying belief
- They have a specific and identifiable fear. This can be rational, based on past experience, or irrational, sometimes based on an underlying belief. A fear can be based on the known or the unknown.
- There can be occasions where lack of movement is actually a good and desirable thing. However this not clear at the time of our initial meeting with our client and initially this may present itself in a negative way.
Where to begin?
Our job as a coach is to move our client to a position where they take action, to do this we can deploy and use a number of tools. I will now look at some of these tools and see how they can address the resistance to movement that our clients can face.
Create and hold the space:
We need to create a space where our client feels comfortable and safe. A safe space will help them think about their beliefs, their desire to take action and give then a stable place from which they can talk about their fears and their resistance to movement. We need to hold that space for every session the client attends and we need to be focused on not letting this slip into a place of being ‘too relaxed’, because this will be seen by the client, who could then suffer some uncertainty.
Giving space and time:
We need to allow the client space in which to speak, think and question. We must ensure that we do not judge, react or jump to conclusions about anything they say. Their beliefs around why they cannot take action, why they are in resistance are all valid and they must have space to express them for us both to hear.
Active Listening and powerful questioning:
Our listening needs to focus laser like onto our client, we need to hear not only what is actually said, but what is not said, what is implied and what is hinted at. If we are physically with our client then we need our body language to be open and responsive whilst monitoring our clients. There are many subtle clues offered in any conversation and we must use our active listening skills fully to make sure we miss none of them.
Our questioning must be powerful and focused; we must avoid giving opinions and offering advice. Our job is not to offer advice, but to hold a space in which our client feels free to offer their own advice to themselves, evaluate that advice and decides if its advice they should follow. Our questioning needs to come from a powerful place. We need not feel threatened by the ‘tyranny of powerful questions’ we need to be in a calm and relaxed place where we can focus wholly and without distractions. As coaches we need to allow our intuition to work freely with our clients and it is from the place of confidence (and not arrogance) and intuition that we can ask powerful questions.