In a series of posts, we’re discussing a few common client challenges we face as coaches. Today, it’s what to do about clients who won’t stop talking when the session is over.
It’s not IF this will happen, it’s when, so you must plan for it. You can start by building space between your coaching sessions. Because sometimes people genuinely do need extra time. Life’s happened, and they’re facing unusual challenges.
For others, this type of boundary issue is habitual. The most helpful thing to do with someone like this is to turn this into the coaching topic. Some people will tell you what they need to be coached on, others will show you, with their actions, or with their body language. Go with what they’re showing you.
There’s no doubt that this same issue is showing up in their professional life, and impacting their personal life. It needs to be addressed. Make this a coaching moment.
Some clients may simply be unaware the time is over. And as a coach, our responsibility is not to do their work for them, but it is to hold the time and space and manage that. So with someone who can’t stop talking like that, I’ll typically say at the beginning of the session that we have 30 minutes together. After 15 minutes, it’s “Well, we’re about halfway.”
At about 8 to 10 minutes before the end, I’ll say something like, “Well, we’ve got about eight minutes to go, where do we go from here?” or “What are the next steps for you?”
Then with about two minutes to go, I’ll say, “Well, we’re just about at the end, so what are you learning or discovering from this?” or “What was most helpful to you in our call?” or “What will be different going forward now as a result of our coaching session?” or “How will these great insights you’ve had play out in the next few days?”
These questions are an intentional signal to the client and to myself. We’ve been both holding on to the baton during the coaching, and now I’m going to let go.
What if the client launches into a new story or topic? This happens, and if it’s really important, I’ve created the space to allow that to happen. Rarely, though, is it really crucial that we have that conversation right then and there.
I might say, “Wow, that sounds really important. Since our time is up, why don’t you give that some additional thought and maybe send me an email? Then let’s pick it up next time.” I might also remind them that I have other clients booked on that day.
I’m convinced that when it comes to coaching, less is more. Hold yourself to an end time for your sessions. Practice sitting in that discomfort, and give yourself the space to do it.