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

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

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

Because there is no such thing as try - they can either choose to do it, or choose not do it!

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

Maybe your client really will try. Or maybe they're too busy. Maybe they don't want to upset someone by saying "no". And maybe they don't care about or value the outcome enough. 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:

  1. "What's the hidden message in the 'try'?"
  2. "What do you need me to hear?"
  3. "What are you not saying - or acknowledging?"
  4. "What stops you from fully committing to this action?"
  5. "Out of 10, 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.

And if their answer 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.

Watch out for: Sometimes "I'll try" may be said 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 explore how we contributed to the situation and how to avoid it happening in future...

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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, 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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