Dealing With the Client’s “I Don’t Know”

by Susan Litwiller, Ed.S, MBA

“I feel as if I am running away from my life.” Tears rolled down her cheeks as my co-worker said that to me this morning in my office. “If you are running from something, what are you running to?” I asked, (as we always tend to wear our coaching hats). “I don’t know,” was the reply.

Isn’t the phrase, “I don’t know,” the answer to so many questions we ask ourselves? We know from neuroscience, that responding with “I don’t know” is a story we tell ourselves to keep from having to do the work of knowing. Yes, that’s it exactly. Our brains long to keep us safe and familiar. So, when we make the decision to stick to familiar patterns, even if we adamantly despise those patterns, they are so familiar we tend to cling to them as if they are a cozy blanket. Yet, as a coach, one of the catchy questions we can ask in response to the “I don’t know” statement is, “Well, what if you did know….?”

I find that question tends to elicit more frustration and angst rather than a thoughtful, reflective response. Of course, we as coaches know our clients possess an inner genius that does know. It’s a matter of creating space and calling the person into their God identity. Helping people align with their identity as reconcilers to Christ, (2 Cor 5:18), is paramount to our coaching practice.

The foundational principle is knowing that most people are not able to behave differently from what they believe. Belief is our identity. For instance, if a person wants to become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company, yet his or her core belief stems from an identity of being unworthy or feelings of inadequacy, regardless of the goals and efforts to accomplish the CEO dream, self-sabotage will always win. We cannot behave in a way that contradicts our belief system.

The enemy of our destiny will always find a way to kill, steal and destroy the plans of God. Armed with this knowledge we are able to fight for our client’s identity even when they are stuck in the “I don’t knows”. And the breakthroughs we watch increases our faith, encourages us to hone the craft we value, and continue to show up as ministers of reconciliation, spring-boarding clients into their personal transformation and destiny. Let’s march forth as coaches to change the world one heart at a time.

Susan Litwiller, Ed.S, MBA is a Certified Master NeuroCoach, Strengths Champion Coach, and a John Maxwell Team Training Coach. She is the Director of Education for CCNI and facilitates our Evening Women in Coaching Community group which meets the 3rd Tuesday of every month at 8pm EDT. She can be reached at direducation@christiancoaches.com

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