Stories Work Better Than Advice

A client asked me what I would do?

It’s a simple question and instead of being smart, I answered him honestly.

He was fine with the answer. In fact it seemed to help, but I noticed after that call we began to drift apart.

It took me weeks to understand why.

Even after we stopped working together this issue stuck in my head.

I would come back to it again and again.

I remember I was on a walk with my dog and this one hound that we usually pass by is always out by the fence, barked at my dog. Obviously she became defensive of me and riled up.

She lunged toward the other dog.

I pulled her back.

And we kept walking.

My Aha! Moment

As we kept going I thought I should just let me dog go and see what happens.

I did this once before the fence kept the dogs apart. They just increased their barking and growling.

There couldn’t be a settlement. The fence blocked one dog from dominating the other and seeing the argument.

Then the reason why I struggled with my client hit me.

I told him what I would do. He liked the answer, but he was unwilling to actually implement my idea.

He didn’t have the same strengths as me. He wasn’t able to do what I would do. He didn’t want to implement my idea.

Was he scared? I dunno….possibly, because fear keeps so many small businesses back from succeeding.

This is all a guess of course because he enjoyed our sessions. Because he liked my suggestion, but he didn’t want to implement it, made him feel bad about himself.

Ownership Is Vital

That’s why it’s important as a coach not to tell people what to do.

Very few people like to be told what to do.

Clients want to feel empowered to make their own decisions. They want to lunge for the answer and make it a reality. They want to own it.

And best of all, neuroscience supports that this is the most effective way of learning and implementing change.

I’ve learned to adjust how I give advice. Tim is a Life Coach and he knows he can rarely give advice, but I’m a business coach and people expect me to give advice.

Now I tell stories that convey my idea without telling them directly what they should do.

It’s these examples that help create an emotional distance between me directly telling them what to do and still being able to give them advice.

It works for me.

Your Turn…

I’m curious if you ever worked with someone who asked you what you would do. Did you have the same result or did something else occur?