5 Helpful Questions to Ask When Your Client Says: I'll Try

Client with crossed fingers for I'll try

When a client says "I'll try", what they're really saying is they're not fully committed to the action in question...

Do or do not, there is no try. Yoda (wise teacher from Star Wars movies)

Just using the word "try" implies a risk of failure.

This means that the word "try", just like "should", is one of those words that's a clear signal to coaches to ask more questions and dig deeper.

That's because there is no such thing as "trying" to do something: we can either choose to do something, or choose not do it!

Why do people say "I'll try" then?

Well, maybe your client intends to do the action but they're very busy and know they might not get to it. Maybe they don't want to upset someone. And maybe they simply don't care about or value the outcome enough (yet).

Whatever the reason, as a coach "I'll try" is a cue to explore where they're not being totally honest with us—or themselves.

So next time you hear "I'll try" from a client try these 5 Questions:

Start by saying something like I notice you said "I'll try". Then ask:

    1. What's the hidden message in your 'try'?
    2. What do you need to share with me, or need me to hear?
    3. What are you not saying—or acknowledging that could impact your ability to complete this action?
    4. What stops you from fully committing to this action?
    5. Out of 10 (where 10 is ultra-committed and 1 is barely caring), how committed are you to this action?

Once you've helped them identify what they're avoiding saying, doing, acknowledging or committing to, they'll be able to move forwards clearly and with integrity.

And with this clarity of self-knowledge they'll be taking their relationship with you AND themselves to the next level.

TIP: If a client's response to an action is not a clear "Yes", it may better for them to say "No": If their mind is elsewhere then maybe that's where they belong too.

People—and Coach Pleasing...

Watch out for: Sometimes a client may say "I'll try" because they don't want to disappoint or displease us—their coach.

This is a great coaching opportunity around a client's need to please others AND it may also be a signal to us to explore how we contributed to the situation and how to avoid it happening in future...

If you liked this article about commitment and 'trying' you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

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