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Issue Date: April 2011 Web Features, Posted On: 4/20/2011


Training Wheels: The Art of Compliance
By Shelby Murphy

I was reminded today of an important coaching concept that is so relevant to trainers but often overlooked -- the art of getting compliance. One of my clients struggles to lose weight because three or four times a week he'll go out with the boys and drink four or more beers in a sitting. Although he knows this is his primary weakness, he is resentful of anyone trying to "tell him what to do." I knew if I capped his alcohol consumption with a number of beers that I thought was reasonable, or better yet tried to eliminate all alcohol for faster weight loss, the only thing I would accomplish would be bringing out the rebellious little boy in him.

So I remembered the strategy used in negotiations where you let the opposing party tell you what they want, what their bottom dollar is, and then you happily meet it. Whenever something is the other person's idea, they are much more willing to stick to it. I asked my client what would be the maximum number of beers he thought he should have when he went out with the boys. How many beers could he have and still have fun? He said he could stick with a limit of three beers and that he would work hard to drink each one slower.

Is three beers in a sitting ideal for weight loss? No way. But it's at least one less than his usual, and he won't feel rebellious and angry as he would if he were not drinking at all and his buddies were. Mostly, it's movement in the right direction, and it is progress on his terms. And sticking with that will cause him to eventually lose weight. With that, both of us win.


Topic: Client Coaching/Motivation

Magazine Archives:
  • Make It Personal, Keep It Professional
  • Training Wheels: Creating Forever Clients
  • 24 Seconds
  • Training Wheels: The "All or Nothing" Mindset
  • New Year’s Res-Solutions

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