Coaching Skills Series: The JOLT Technique

There are many coaching schools that teach concepts of integrity and accountability. In fact many coaching schools teach coaching skills that help you to become a coach that knows WHAT to do to become more fullfilled, powerful, and successful.


However, the biggest problem I find with new coaches that are trying to build a coaching practice (especially the ones that I meet in my coaches training) is not knowing what to do, but rather getting clients to DO what they ALREADY KNOW TO DO.


I’m going to show you my secret weapon that played a major part in my going from living in a trailer (broke) to having a growing coaching business that makes over 30,000 a month. It’s something that you can put to work for you starting today.

This ‘Magic Bullet’ is called the JOLT Technique. 


Now first of all, why use this technique?


People talk about their problems, and talk about the things they want to change or do, and they don’t take any real action. So the jolt technique is meant to change all that. It’s meant to really interrupt the whole habitual pattern of your client.


There are actually a couple steps to this technique:

1. I like to call this step… the “me too” part: 


It’s really a matter of building rapport with your client. You have to have rapport before you go in and “jolt” your client a little bit. You can’t just jump in and “jolt” your client and expect them to change. They’re not going to like that very much. You have to have the rapport, you have to have the relationship first.


Your client might be sharing a little bit about their problem AND YOU WANT TO LISTEN. You want to listen as much as you can during this section of the technique,


…and then you want to compliment them. You want to commend them for something, you want to acknowledge them.


So you might say something like “You know sally, I really want to acknowledge you and commend you for your honesty in this area because most people aren’t even honest about what their problems and challenges really are, and with honesty you can do so much, you can do anything. Now let me ask you a question, what has allowed you to be so honest about this, to have so much strength when it comes to this challenging problem for you?”


What did I just do? I did three little steps in that little compliment.


First, I stated what I appreciated, her honesty.


Second, I used the word “BECAUSE”, which is really key, you want to use the word “BECAUSE”. Why? BECAUSE… it’s an internal trigger in the mind of your client that makes them listen and believe what you are saying, not to mention that it helps transition into justifying why you stated the compliment. I justified why I was actually complimenting her because I want Sally to BELIEVE what I am saying and allow the compliment to resonate deeply with her. And then…


Third, I asked her a question about what I was complimenting her on, which shows a level of INTEREST. When you do this, you are going to have a deep level of rapport and you are going to have an identification, what I call a “me too” with your client.

2. The next section of the “JOLT” technique is the HONESTY portion:


You really need to tell them whatever it is that is on your mind, whatever you’re really thinking.


You want to use the very same words that are going through your head and you don’t want to edit anything here. You want to be really straight.


So in this section, I might say something like, “You know sally, as I said before I really commend you for your honesty. There are a couple things I see. First of all, your life’s a MESS and you’re treating your family really badly, you’re being a JERK to them. Beyond that, there’s so many things you can do to make changes in your business and you’re not doing anything. I mean… it really looks to me like you’re being LAZY.”


Remember, during this section, you’re going to say some things that most people DON’T WANT TO HEAR.


You create repore in the first section and now you’re breaking repore in this section. You’re telling them honestly exactly what you see, and that’s part of the jolt. You’re giving them an intense enough jolt to start to jar them from their habitual pattern.


This is very counterintuitive! You’re going to say some things during this part of the technique that you would never want to say to somebody, or you’ll try to soften it, edit it, or you’ll try to make it a little friendlier .




The whole idea of this technique is that it ends with the INTENSE JOLT! You want to wrap up the statement with whatever it is that you could say that has the most teeth, that is the most challenging statement.


So maybe I might wrap this statement up with, “You know sally, you really seem like you’re a lazy jerk that’s just thinking about herself.”


So something like that is going to start to jolt somebody out of their habitual patterns , and they’re usually all ears because they are thinking, “Now, wait a second, this is something new, I haven’t heard anyone say this to me before, I might need to listen closely.”


That’s getting a really key response from your client.

3. Now lets go to step three in the jolt technique, and that’s what I call PAIN & PLEASURE:


Now that you jolted them, they’re listening but that doesn’t mean they are going to change anything. Now you’ve just got their attention, you want to get back in rapport a bit and you need to help them to associate massive PAIN to staying where they are… massive PAIN to keeping things the same, and massive PLEASURE to whatever change that they need to make. The best and most powerful way to use this during jolt technique, is to start asking them some questions again, open it up.


So you might ask some questions like, “Let me ask you, Sally, how does it feel to know that things aren’t going well with your family? How does it feel to know that you aren’t making any money in your business? How would you feel if it kept going the way it’s been going? How would it feel if this kept going this way for a year? If it got worse, and you don’t change anything, how will it be in five years? Where will you be? Where will you be financially?Where will you be in your relationships? Where would you be in terms of how you feel about yourself?”


When they answer, you want to listen for the emotions. If they just say, “Gee, I guess it would be bad” you want to help them to amplify those emotions.


Give them some clues… You want to help them, “Would it be bad? Would you feel really depressed? Would you be resentful? Would you be frustrated? Would you be angry? I mean really honestly, tell me, how would you really feel.”


Have them really imagine those feelings, feel them, and share them with you.


Then you want to take them into the PLEASURE.


For example, you could say, “Look, if you change this and you stepped up, and started really taking care of your family and you really started getting off your butt and doing the work you know you got to do… And you start doing that for a couple of months, even if you didn’t get a lot of results, how would you feel? Would you feel more proud? Would you feel more confident? What about after a year, when you start getting some results for this, how would you feel then? What about after five years, where would you be? Where would you be financially? Where would you be with your family? How would that feel? Would you feel happy? Would you feel fulfilled? Would you feel grateful? How would you feel?”


Now as they share that with you, they are going to start to associate PAIN to not changing and PLEASURE to changing and that’s going to start creating that change. If you can get them feeling a lot of pain about not changing and a lot of pleasure about changing, then they are ready to go to the final step in this “JOLT” technique…

4. You want to have them immediatly commit to an action.


Get them to commit to one major action, maybe a couple major actions that they are going to take as soon as they hang up the phone with you, or as soon as they leave your office. Have them write it down (you write it down as well, so you can hold them accountable later) and then they need to go take those actions IMMEDIATELY.


So let’s review this jolt technique one more time:


The first step is that repore step, the “me too” step.


The second step, HONESTY and the INTENSE JOLT.


The third step is that PAIN and PLEASURE piece, you want them to associate pleasure to changing and pain to not changing.


And fourth, the ACTION step. Get them into action. Get them going out there and doing something about the motivation that they’ve gotten from that session.


This is a simple formula that we teach in our coaches training, but the good news is that as coaching skills go, it’s a simple one.


So, go out there and become a coach that JOLTS your clients and sets them on the path to greatness!


Jeffrey T. Sooey

CEO, JTS Advisors

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