Behavior coaching, or coaching your client by helping them change their behavior, is the hardest type of coaching from what I’ve seen from the coaches I work with. Coaches will tell me (and these are coaches that have masters in business or psychology), “coaching my clients to change their habits is impossible”. The funny thing is that these are very smart people that know what to tell their clients for them to get better results, but if the coaching client doesn’t take action, then so what?
The fact is, no matter how learned you are in the best practices that your clients need to take on, you need to be a bit of a psychology coaching guru to really produce consistent and guaranteed results. Thus, the top ten behavior coaching techniques to get your client into action:
#1 Behavior Coaching Accountability:
Hold your client accountable by getting them to commit to taking action, and then get them to admit that they broke their word if they don’t follow through. Accountability is one of the cornerstones of behavior coaching.
#2 Use Good Psychology Coaching to Move The Focus Off of Them:
Good psychology coaching tactics dictate that you should remind your client that this action is not (just) about them. Sometimes people get overly focused on themselves and then their ego paralyzes them. Get their focus off of themselves and then they’ll get back in a ‘flow state’ where they are able to take action without so much resistance.
Have your client reward themselves when they take action and give themselves a little punishment if they don’t take action. Rewards as small as buying a candy bar and punishments as minor as putting a quarter in a jar can work wonders. A great behavior coaching manual that focuses on reinforcement techniques is a book called Don’t Shoot The Dog by Karen Pryor.
#4 Change of State, The Psychology Coaching Centerpiece:
Get your client into a more motivated and ‘action oriented’ state of mind by having them ‘fake it’ a little bit. If you ACT motivated then your brain will think that you ARE motivated. ‘State of mind’ oriented psychology coaching tactics are usually based in NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming). Pick up any book by Richard Bandler and John Grinder and read it. Those books are great places to start learn these tactics.
#5 Focus on Their ‘Why’:
Have them write all the reasons why they need to take this action and focus on those reasons why on a daily basis.
#6 Get Them to Make a Promise to People in their Peer Group:
Peer pressure can work wonders! Once you commit to enough people, you’ll do just about anything! If you want to learn a lot about old-school peer pressure techniques check out the Landmark Curriculum for Living and read Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini. I learned a lot about good psychology coaching from Cialdini’s work.
#7 Get Them to Just ‘Start’:
Many times the resistance a client has is not about taking action. Rather, the resistance is to STARTING the action. Just get your client to focus on starting and tell them to not worry about finishing.
#8 Give Them a Game Plan Sheet:
Give them a document where they can check off each day that they took action. This is a great way to keep their focus on the actions they need to take and make sure they take them. Game plans are a behavior coaching technique that we stole from classical business management.
#9 Have Them Focus On the Consequences That Will Happen if They Don’t Take Action:
Consequences will get people scared enough to take action. If a smoker knew that they would come down with cancer in a year if they didn’t quit, there wouldn’t be much trouble in getting them to stop.
#10 Tell Them a Story of Someone Else Who Had the Same Resistance and What Got Them to Take Action:
We learn better through others’ experiences, so go ahead and give those to your client. Use your own story or another client’s that is analogous and in tune with your current methods of psychology coaching.
If you become really proficient in just a few of these behavior coaching tactics and then use a few more just ‘shooting from the hip’, your psychology coaching results will go through the roof. The best result comes when you learn it all. Then you can pick and choose your behavior coaching technique in the moment based upon what you know is best.
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Jeffrey T. Sooey
CEO, JTS Advisors
Founder, Coaches Training Blog community