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Last chance to save US $895...



Last chance to save US $895...



Monday, April 29, 2002 

Do you have a client who is just plain negative? Or, perhaps a client who gets into negative cycles from time to time.  Today's article from the How to Coach Anyone eCourse from CoachVille addresses just how you as a coach can work with a negative client.  I hope you enjoy it.

Also in today's issue is a reminder that Tuesday is the last day to join the Graduate School of Coaching at the early bird tuition of $895. Tuition rises to $1795 on May 1, 2002. 

As always, your suggestions for topics are welcome.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Reading,

Andrea Lee
GM, CoachVille


Lesson #43
How do you coach a client who is just plain negative about life?

This, from a coach...

Hi Thomas: 

"I've got a client who is just negative and cynical about life. Frustrated and bummed out.  Just can't see what people see in life.  Is he depressed or just having a bad year? We've talked about it some but I can't get him to see the better side of life. He's making ME depressed now.  Help!"

 Some ideas...

You are asking some of the right questions.  And let me add a couple of more to ask your client, because getting to the source/cause of this way of relating to the world can obviously get in the way of coaching, achievement, happiness, etc. (duh)

Below are some questions that I would ask, but I would ask them in the Navigates via Curiosity mode (on of the 15 proficiencies) not in the interrogation mode where you're coming from looking for information to fix/change/brighten the client up.  In my experienced, there is ALWAYS a simple explanation for why a person is negative or cynical.  And, often, when the person gets to the root cause, they lighten up, sometimes quite quickly.

But as I just mentioned, do come into this via clean curiosity vs trying to make them a Positive Pat.  Come to enjoy their being a Negative Ned.  Some people just are and will never change.  It doesn't mean that you can't coach them well or even enjoy them.  (This because it's your reaction to their negativity that's the culprit, not what they are being negative about.)

 Things to say/Questions to ask
 Are you aware that you're coming across as fairly negative?
 I'm a little curious.  Why the cynicism?
 How you always been this bitter? 
 What's going on that has you be that way?
 How interested are you in being a very, very positive person from this point forward?
 Have you given up on something?
 Were you seriously wronged and have not yet recovered?
 I'm okay with negative attitude thing.  I'm just curious if you are?
 Is your attitude something you would like to focus on/change?
 Is your cynicism something you would like to focus on/change?
 Is your outlook something you would like to focus on/change?
 I'm not an MD, but could it be that you are clinically depressed?

 What causes "negativity?"
The source of negativity can be any number of things.  There are several ideas.  Legally/ethically, some of these sources call for the work of a psychologist or MD; others do not.  I include all of these here to give you a broader perspective. They are not in any particular order.

 Upbringing/Family Culture
The dynamic of some families is negative/cynical; the child, no adult, has been steeped in this environment for so long that they consider it to be normal/natural and even 'healthy.'

 Circle of Friends/Colleagues
We take on the thinking/communication style of the friends/colleagues that we hang out with a lot.  It can be a slippery slope, given the richness of the bonding process is so seductive when it's 'us vs them' attitudes that cliques can adopt.

We are all discriminated against; it is what we humans tend to do to each other as we socialize and define ourselves.  Age, race, looks, gender, education level, intelligence level, ZIPCODE/Postal Code, bank account, clothing.

 Extreme Disappointment
Who hasn't been extremely disappointed in something, themselves or someone else?  Some folks internalize this disappointment; others move through it and recover their willingness to live well.

Between 5 and 10% of the population are super sensitive meaning that they don't have the natural protection against their environments, energy, people, events.  So that when something bad happens, their mind, body, heart and spirit take it pretty hard 

When you don't feel that you have the power to protect yourself, to affect a situation, be yourself or get out of a situation, the tendency is to 'communicate/act' by being critical of everything around you.  Those feelings of frustration/powerlessness have to get out of your system somehow (think volcano).

 Ignorance//Lack of Awareness
When you don't know that there is a solution to your problem, or you have no way to frame or contextualize an upsetting/frustrating situation, then negativity is pretty certain to follow.

 Lack of Opportunity/Financial Repression
When you can't get access to the opportunities that you see others able to find, access and benefit from, who wouldn't be negative?  If you're working 2 jobs at $7 an hour and can't buy a house, who wouldn't be negative?  It's completely natural.

 Depression/Anxiety and Other Conditions
The source of these are chemical imbalances, dietary, lifestyle or psychological.  I include this here as a reminder to have several therapists and MDs in your network to make sure that your clients are given all of their options if they can't seem to shift their negativity.

 Fear of Consequence
Sometimes, negativity is a front for fear.

 Weak Personal Foundation
If you are being put upon (weak boundaries), aren't doing your best work/life (low standards), are the tail of the dog of life (inadequate reserves) or have a life that's cluttered with unfinished business or physical disarray, it's pretty likely that you'll take a negative stance about life.

 Inadequate Integrity Level
If you are not doing what's best/right for you (either because you cannot given the circumstances, or cannot given your state of thinking/perception), the tendency is to point the finger elsewhere and not to take responsibility for where you are at.

 Nothing More Compelling To Do
Hey, being negative can be a lot of fun!  Look for the little 'smile' or smirk in someone's face when they are complaining or criticizing.  It's there; negativity and complaining are sources of entertainment for a LOT of folks.

 So, what can the coach do about "negativity?"
Several things, actually...

1.  Find out if it is something that the client wants to work on.  

2.  Make sure you are aware of the depth of your reactions to your client's negativity.  Some coaches can't 'handle negativity,' and they attempt to try to make the client more positive, without the client's buy in.  Which makes the client even more negative.  (Hmm.)  If you cannot handle negativity, just let your client know.  

3.  Consider expanding your ability to be with negativity (as you experience it anyway) so that you can work easily with all types of clients.

I hope that this was helpful.


copyright 2002 by  written by thomas j. leonard.  all rights reserved. distribution welcome when attribution is intact.

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