“I’ve tried everything and nothing works”
If you’re a coach then I’m sure you’ve had the experience where, no matter what questions you come up with, your client seems to have run out of answers.
Maybe you’ve had the experience of wanting to ask a question, but finding a reason not to. Maybe you felt uncomfortable, or maybe you though the question was too challenging.
In fact, one of the ICF’s credentialing criteria is that the coach should “ask powerful questions”. Wow. That puts a lot of pressure on you, the coach. How can you know in advance that your question will be powerful?
And perhaps you’ve had the experience where your client is simply stuck. They can’t see past their current problem, and you hear them say, “I’ve tried everything and nothing works”. Logically, you know they can’t have tried everything, yet no matter how many options you ask them to come up with, they’re no further forward.
They’re stuck. And because they’re stuck, you’re stuck.
What you need is The Unsticker.
I’ve been coaching from a time, long ago, before there was such a thing as coaching. I started, like many of us, because I was training NLP and people asked me to help them with specific issues. Work, career, relationships, developing skills and so on. Fear of public speaking, interview preparation, all the kinds of things that NLP Practitioners can help with. As an interaction between two people, a NLP session looks a lot like a counselling session looks a lot like a coaching session, so it’s no wonder that there are such close ties between these different disciplines.
As a NLP Practitioner, when you hear the words, “I’ve tried everything and nothing works”, you might think about applying Meta Model, or using the Clean Language approach, or getting inside the client’s map in some other way. However, it’s very easy to use those kinds of techniques in a heavy-handed way. “EVERYTHING??????!!!!” exclaims the inexperienced meta modeller, and the client becomes even more defensive.
We also have the issue of teaching coaching skills to non-coaches, a typical example being line managers in organisations. The logic seems to make sense. Managers have to interact with their staff to solve problems and encourage development, and that sounds like what a coach does, so let’s train line managers to be coaches. The problem here is that a line manager cannot be a coach because a manager has a vested interest in the client’s success. One of the most powerful assets that a coach possesses is the ability to allow the client to fail, because only in failure is there learning. We learn nothing from success, only to carry on doing what we’re doing.
Maybe if there was a flexible coaching tool that we could give to both coaches and non-coaches alike then that might be useful. A tool that hid deeply probing questions within a fun, playful package. A tool that, after just four or five questions, has the client laughing, unable to remember what their problem had been and seeing a clear way forward that they can’t believe they didn’t recognise before.
Well, you’ve guessed it. The Unsticker is that tool!
Yet it’s more than that. It’s something that you can incorporate into any problem-solving scenario, with individuals or groups, and it forces creative thinking. Yes, forces. Just by hearing the questions, the listener’s mind switches tracks and opens up new possibilities. Because as a coach you are not a bystander. You are not passive. Your client has asked for your help and your professional expertise. They expect you to do something that they can’t do for themselves.
The questions might make you laugh, yet they are far from trivial. The powerful principles that you’ve learned during your NLP journey are packed in there, if you look carefully. Yet the most important key to The Unsticker’s effectiveness is that the questions are random. Now, I can’t reveal why that’s so important, so you’ll need to come along to my workshop at the NLP Conference to experience the effect for yourself, and then I promise I’ll explain how it works. You’ll also get a free Pocket Unsticker, and if you’re lucky enough to have an Android phone, you can download the free Unsticker app too for limitless Unsticking on the move. And of course, you can buy the paperback Unsticker if you prefer flicking through real pages to find your daily dose of random Unsticking.
By Peter Freeth