Getting people to change is hard.
It’s hard to get anyone to change their mind on seemingly trivial things like their favorite pop star, let alone the foods they’ve been eating their whole lives.
Being unable to change someone’s mind or behavior on little stuff is annoying, but ok.
Being unable to change someone’s mind or behavior when they’re doing something detrimental to their long-term health or success is something else entirely.
The more we can improve our persuasion skills, the better our odds of helping someone make a big and important change.
In service of helping you do exactly that, I want to share a framework that’s helped me to help others make positive change.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
- Identifying and agreeing on the problem
- Past attempts at improvement
- What specific actions were taken
- Time period
- Effective interventions
- Total impact
- Frustration level
Let’s get started.
What’s the biggest thing you’re struggling with?
The very nature of change is hard.
We resist making changes for a lot of reasons, one of them being fear.
We’re fearful of the unknown.
We’re fearful of how our lives will look once we break our patterns, routines and habits.
To solve the problem, we must first identify the problem.
Once the problem has been identified, the person experiencing the problem must agree that it is in fact a problem. Without this acknowledgement, very little change will happen.
“What’s the biggest thing you’re struggling with?”
If you’re speaking with someone who is obese, in the middle of a bancruptcy, or going through a divoce, the answer may seem obvious to you.
But simply asking this question doesn’t mean you’re going to get an answer. You need to be ready to prompt them.
If you’re a personal trainer, you may be meeting with someone to discuss their physical goals. In this instance, effective language could be, “a lot of people I talk to are interested in being more energetic and feeling better, but don’t have the time to commit to doing it. Does that sound familiar?”
That may inspire them to be open to a discussion which will lead to them sharing the biggest problem they’re struggling with.
How have you tried to improve your health in the past?
Once the problem has been identified and agreed upon, the next step is to figure out what they’ve tried to do to solve it. Have they taken any actions to try and solve the problem already?
A good question would be, “How have you tried to start feeling better?”
How did you go about it (be as specific as possible)?
Because change is hard, the chances the person has tried and failed to solve their problem are high.
What were the actions they’ve previously taken? Get them to share as much as possible.
Great language to use to get them to open up is, “tell me more about that.”
How long have you been feeling like you need to make a change?
Odds are, this problem has been on their mind for a good amount of time. The next step is to determine how long they’ve been struggling with it, and how long they’ve been trying to solve it.
Sample language could be, “How long have you been feeling like you need to make a change?”
Have you tried anything that worked?
We’ve all had a problem, solved it, only to fall back into the same pattern. This is a common occurrence with weight gain and loss.
The simple question to ask here is, “have you tried anything that worked?”
How has the problem impacted you (monetarily, psychologically, physiologically)?
What’s the total cost of the problem?
Have they spent money trying to solve it? How much time and attention has been devoted to it?
There’s also the opportunity cost of being unable to do things. If they are overweight, perhaps that’s precluded them from being able to play with kids, or enjoy a more active life.
A good question could be, “what’s the total cost of this been?”
How frustrated are you right now?
At some point, we become sick and tired of being sick and tired. Or we get fed up with being broke.
How close is this person to their breaking point?
The closer they are to it, the more motivated they are to make the changes which will be necessary to solve their problem.
A good question could be, “on a scale of 1 to 10, how frustrated are you?”
When you’re able to follow this framework, you’re helping the other person to self-assess their problem.
All you’ve done is ask great and thought-provoking questions which prompted the person to consider their predicament.
If the person responds to your final question with an 8, 9 or 10, they’re ready to make a change.
From there you say, “I’ve got a lot of clients who’ve faced similar situations and frustrations. Would you like to talk about how they were able to move past them?”
And now you’re onto the next phase of your process and in a position to help this person get on the path to meaningful change.
If you’d like to dig deeper into this process, you can connect with one of our Certified Coaches for a no-cost call.
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