Do You Rush, Make, Force or Ask Clients in the Close? Find Out!


by Certified Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

Let’s try some virtual equus coaching. Equus coaching utilizes the feedback that horses can provide to uncover your inner beliefs—some of which might be holding you back from the life or practice that you want. By doing various exercises with a horse, equus coaching will help you detect how you tend to do things. The interaction you have will uncover the beliefs that drive you which can then be examined with the help of a coach.

Ready? Imagine that you are holding the end of a lead rope. (You might even pretend to be the horse.) I am leading you toward a jump that I want you to go over. It is made of crisscrossed plastic pipes held up on stands.

There are four ways I’m going to have you go over the jump: 1) After a long running start, I sail over the jump at top speed with you in tow. You see the jump fast approaching and leap over it the best you can with little warning. 2) I climb over the jump first and then slowly pull you over it—dragging and tugging on the rope as much as I need to until you come over. 3) With a stick and string in hand I strike the air behind you to make it uncomfortable for you to stand still until you have to go over the jump. 4) I invite you to take your time and inspect the jump. Whenever you’re ready, I ask you to go over it however you chose to do so.

Which way appeals most to you? Here are explanations of the four ways that may shed some light on why you feel the way you do. 1) The first approach gives you no choice and little warning. What feelings does it bring up? Apprehensive? Fearful? Caught off guard? Tricked? 2) The second method is sheer force. I leave you no choice at all. Do you feel angry, resentful, annoyed or some other unpleasant feeling? 3) The third way we go over the jump I make you do it because it’s uncomfortable not to do it (you might get hit with a stick if you don’t!). How do you feel about that? Uncomfortable? Irritated? A little nervous? Threatened? 4) The last jump is your first experience of having a chance to understand what is being asked of you and to have a choice in the way you want to complete the action. Do you notice how much more fun it is!!!!

By any chance, do you see yourself in any of these scenarios as far as how you treat your clients? Would your client describe your close as putting them off guard and getting a somewhat involuntary commitment? Does it feel like you need to use force and pressure such as in scenario two? Do you make your client take action as in the third scenario? Or is working with you fun and enjoyable such as in the fourth way to go over the jump?

Give this some careful thought. What does it feel like to be your client? Clues that you might not be using the fourth method of going over the jump include a higher than average number of reversals, clients who disappear even though you thought you had a case or you sense that your clients have a low level of commitment in their work with you.

These signs might point to you: going too fast, using too much pressure, not engaging the client enough.

How can you set up an environment that allows for your client to check out their options and feel empowered to implement the plan that feels like they had input and choice? This scenario creates long term relationships that last, cases that don’t roll back and positions you as a trustworthy advisor your clients want to turn to. Are you ready to take responsibility for creating a true partnership? I think you’ll enjoy the feedback that you get from this approach—whether it’s from a horse or a human.

Coaching Tip Try it! Get a string and set up a “jump.” Find someone to lead you through all four scenarios so that you have firsthand knowledge how different each method feels. Then switch roles. Notice which way feels good whether you’re asking someone to jump or the one jumping. The same applies in the way you treat people in your life.