The Web of Details

How do you navigate the myriad details a client brings to a conversation? Often, I’ll hear coaches getting caught in the web of details. The web begins with coaching through tangential information and losing sight of the agreement for the call. In this brief article, I would like to provide three simple tips to ensure you as a coach do not get buried or derailed by details provided by the client.

Tip #1: Tighten the agreement.

If you know in advance that your client is detail-oriented, provide a bit more time on the front end to secure the agreement for the call. Often this can take over ½ the session time. As the client surveys the land, so to speak, and takes into consideration the many angles to the work he/she wants to do, the resolution typically comes a little quicker at the end of the call. Think of the agreement setting as laying out all the parts of a BBQ Grill in advance of assembly. The actual assembly of the Grill, then, goes so much faster for the client.

Tip #2: Stay connected to purpose of call.

Often highly detailed clients will get caught in the weeds and lose sight of the work they wanted to accomplish in the call. This is not a bad thing! In fact, other great insights tend to develop during the call for the client (and create great content for future coaching agreements!). Your job as coach, however, is to invite the client back to the reason for the session. Let him/her decide how much longer they want to remain exploring their current thinking. Most often, clients who are highly detailed will appreciate that type of grounding in the call.

Tip #3: Don’t interrupt the client.

As the client is working through details, we might be tempted to interrupt them. My personal recommendation is to refrain from doing so. Unlike working with intense verbal processors who often welcome the interruptions to hear our summary reflections, interruption can make it more difficult for a detailed oriented processor to follow their own thoughts. Rather than interrupting, simply create opportunity for connections to be made between current thought and original agreement.

The Tension Between Assessment & Forward Movement

In summary, detail-oriented clients have an amazing ability to think through the nitty gritty involved in the work they want to accomplish. Simultaneously, coaches assist in ensuring that clients don’t get too caught in the weeds and then wind up not accomplishing what they originally set out to finish. The tension between assessment and forward movement is alleviated through:

1. The patient establishment of a solid agreement.

2. The coach’s ability to navigate the details, always connecting back to the focus for the call.

3. Limiting your interruption to the client.

Thanks for reading!

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