I had a couple come in together to talk to me about lecturing them. I was wondering how does a trainer motivate their clients to complete challenges on their own without feeling like their trainer is lecturing them? I felt awful that they had a terrible week because they wanted to be defiant and do exactly the opposite of what I was saying. They felt I was just telling them that they were wrong and they had to do things my way. That wasn’t my intention to make them feel bad for being themselves. I felt, on the other hand, that I was giving them ideas for how to plan out their week. Am I doing something wrong?
First off, I definitely wouldn’t say that you’re “doing something wrong.” It’s clear that you genuinely care about your clients and that’s one of the best traits a trainer can have! What’s also clear (from my understanding of your situation) is that something could be added to your approach for helping them. Out of curiosity, how long/how many sessions have you trained them?
Both Susan and Harris bring valuable points to the table. Communication and trust are two topics I always discuss during the initial consult with a prospective client. Although they both don’t have to happen 100% right from the start, I strive to create an open, trusting relationship with my clients ASAP. This has made my job as a trainer worlds easier and is arguably essential to help any client reach their true potential (in my opinion).
As for the challenges you gave to them, what all did they entail? Did you all come up with them together or were they expected to just complete their assignments and report back?
One motivational strategy (if you can call it that) I’ve had success with is to simply ask my clients questions. One question’s answer leads me to ask another question. This goes on for a bit until the client has basically come up with their own individual “wellness challenge” without even realizing it. However, this definitely takes a bit more communication than only asking, “Do you want to eat healthier? Cool. Do you eat fast food? Yes? Well stop that.” Please note: I’m not assuming this is what you did. It’s merely meant to be an example that I’d be happy to provide clarification on if needed.
In short, by having clients come to their own conclusions – with my professional assistance – I’ve been able to avoid the repercussions of them feeling like they just received a lecture. My goal is to play the role of a “caring consultant,” NOT the “cruel commander.” Does this make sense?
Let me know your thoughts on all the above. I’d be more than happy to provide some additional insights if you liked!