How can you engage with a coaching client who is caught in a place of ambivalence about making changes? In addition to the coaching space, this topic is relevant in the workplace both in the employer/employee relationship and in coworker relationships. We are taking a deep dive in this solo episode about how we partner with our clients to help them move past ambivalence. We’ll talk about how our human nature sets us up for a battle with ambivalence, why this is important in the coaching arena, and what we can do as a coach in this space. Join us for a closer look!

Show Highlights:

  • How ambivalence is manifested through conflicting reactions, beliefs, and feelings 
  • Why Motivational Interviewing (from the work of William Miller and Steven Rollnick) is the most helpful framework I’ve found for engaging with ambivalence
  • How Motivational Interviewing initially was developed to help those with addictive disorders–but has great coaching applications!
  • How you can learn much more about Motivational Interviewing through various resources that are readily available 
  • Why the coaching process, at its essence, is all about CHANGE!
  • Why most people respond to change with ambivalence and resistance because our equilibrium is impacted
  • Why it’s important to notice how a client’s habits are engaging or resisting change
  • How a coach should listen for “change talk” from the client but not push for change
  • Four categories of change talk (and what to listen for in the client’s language):
    • Recognizing the disadvantages of the status quo
    • Recognizing the advantages of change
    • Expressing optimism about change
    • Expressing intention to change
  • How to use OARS: open-ended questions, affirmation, reflection, and summarization
  • The value of using open-ended questions with the client to elicit and evoke awareness
  • Suggestions for evoking methods to get the client to see what you want them to see and imagine future possibilities
  • Examples of statements of affirmation to use with clients to help them feel heard
  • How to use reflective listening to help the client clarify what they mean to say
  • How to use summarization to highlight the reasons for change and emphasize the client’s commitment to change
  • Why we need to understand that ambivalence is part of human nature


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Find out more about my mentor coaching program:  STaR Coach Show: Mentor