De-Stress Series: What Are Your Clients' Stressor Values? | By Steve Mitten, MCC

manMH900442197This week's insightful article and coaching tip from Master Coach and Past ICF President Steve Mitten calls to your attention a sub-set of values he calls "Stressors" that can impact the progress a client makes in your coaching sessions.

Clients come to their coach with a thousand different agendas. And if we are a competent coach we focus on helping the client move ahead on their agenda. Moving beyond competence, it is the job of a great coach to get a clear sense of what a client values, what makes them come more fully alive, so we can make sure that there is alignment between the presenting agenda and their values. Once you know what a client values, it is a fairly simple exercise to assess how well the client's agenda lines up with what is truly important to them. The greater the alignment, the higher the experience of fulfillment.

However, when we do values work with a client, it is important to know that all values are not created equally. One important sub-set of values is what I call stressors. Stressors have a huge impact on the ability of the client to successfully move forward with their agenda. In fact if a stressor is not satisfied, it is very difficult for a client to move ahead, period. ( In contrast if a regular value is not met, a client can move forward, they simply experience lower levels of fulfillment until the value is honored.)

Let me give you an example of how a stressor can show up in coaching. I had a client I will call Steve (also maybe I am running a little short on imagination today). Steve came to me to build his business and enjoy life more. We identified his values; creativity, making a difference, having great relationships, integrity, health, peace, financial freedom, spirituality, and nature as being those areas of his life that contribute the most to his feeling of greater success and fulfillment. The coaching progressed.

Some weeks Steve would come to the call in a open, creative, productive and optimistic state of mind. He would be moving ahead on all fronts and the coaching was easy.

Some weeks Steve would come to the call beset by Gremlins. In these weeks coaching was a challenge.

What I came to see was that Steve had a big stressor around financial freedom. And in those weeks where some unexpected expense, or business event threatened his anticipated cash flow, it knocked him right off his game, brought out his fears, and prevented him from responding creatively to the challenge.

Steve's story is representative of many client situations. (And we coaches have our own share of stressors, values that if not met can get us off our game and send us on a quick trip to Gremlinville. To find some of your stressors reflect on the last few times when you might have had an argument, felt flat, or otherwise struggled. Chances are you will find a stressor was not met.)

And when you are coaching a client, and you see some abnormal gremlin activity, keep your eyes open to identify the stressor button that has been pushed.

When you know what sets off your client, you can help them build more awareness, greater reserves and learn some tools to better manage their stressors. With your help they can return to being at choice, and get back on track.

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Contributing Author:

Steve Mitten B.ApSc., CPCC, MCC. Steve is a Master Certified Business & Executive Life Coach, and Past President of the ICF (International Coaching Federation). Learn more about Steve and check out his many resources for coaches at

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