Coaching to Initiate Change
When considering the different stages of change it may be important to determine if the change is something the client is initiating or if it is a change an external source has initiated. Resistance to change is natural and may exist with either source, yet change may be harder to embrace when it is an external source initiating the change. If the change is being initiated by an external source, helping the client identify reasons the change is something they also desire can help make the change process easier.
When a change is introduced, a person realizes they will be required to do something differently to get the desired outcome. The amount of effort a person assumes will be required and their desire to make the required effort can affect their desire to make the change. Most people are familiar with this psychology joke: Q-How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb? A-Only one, but the light bulb has to want to change. Although it is funny, it highlights what each model has in common: desire, commitment and willingness to change, which are critical to the change process.
Motivation and Language
In her book, Should: How Habits of Language Shape Our Lives, Rebecca Smith shares her perspective on language we use that “enslaves” us and encourages us to eliminate them from our vocabulary. The words she highlights are:
should – have to – must – ought to – try – need – have to – [and] have no choice (Smith, 2010).
When a client is using passive rather than active language (e.g., “try” verses “will”) it may indicate they are not fully committed to making the change.
Engage “the Brains”
Reflecting back on the “three different brains” scenario it is important to note that getting all three aspects of the brain (physical, emotional, and logical) to commit to the change will be critical to success. Understanding the logic behind the change is important, but
if the change seems like it’s too scary or too hard, or no fun, your emotional brain is going to work against it (Ryan, 2006).
When change is initiated, make sure these brains are factored in to ensure success.
The power of visualizing success is known by many. Encourage your client to visualize successfully taking the steps to make the change they want and how good it will feel once they have made the desired change. They can also visualize their brain making new synaptic connections and building a new super-highway that leads them to success.
Lapses in Behavior
Change requires doing things in new and different ways. It is a learning process. Children innately understand that trying and failing is part of the process (watch any baby learn to walk and how many times they fall before taking those first successful steps). When clients are learning a new habit, they will likely “fall” many times before being able to master it. The important thing is to remind them to stay committed and to continue taking those baby steps toward success.
Celebrating is a positive way to reinforce behavior and should not be underestimated. Clients need to celebrate the small accomplishments on the way to the larger goal. Help your client find ways to celebrate their successes during the change process. These celebrations will keep them motivated to continue moving forward.
Coaching is centered on helping clients achieve their goals, which generally includes some type of change: a change in approach, a change of behavior, or a change in perspective to enable them to reach their goals. Although every person has their own way of responding to it, change is unavoidable if one truly wants to reach their full potential. Creating lasting change can be challenging, but by following the right steps it can be done.
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Retrieved April 20, 2012, from http://www.change-management.com/adkar-book.htm
Retrieved April 20, 2012, from
Retrieved April 20, 2012, from https://www.quitplan.com
Ryan, M. J. (2006). This year I will… New York, NY: Broadway Books.
Smith, R. (2010). Should: How habits of language shape our lives. CreateSpace.