Ann put down the phone to her third client that week and she was drained. Why was it all going wrong she asked herself? Her inner voice was telling her she was rubbish at her job, and she just wanted to open the door and scream.
Ann is a VA, she loves her job. It gives her tremendous freedom and yet there are some things after 3 years of being her own boss, that were causing her sleepless nights.
Ann is a great listener, she is a people person and is a very skilled communicator. When she disagrees with her partner, their kids or her colleagues she tactfully tells her opinion and is always able to find solutions where everyone is happy.
But there is an exemption.
When Ann needs to tell her client that she disagrees, something unusual happens.
In that situation, Ann reacts totally different.
Despite disagreeing with the client, Ann
* stays quiet
* doesn’t tell her opinion
* nods with her head although inside herself she hears a loud screaming I disagree!
Because of this Ann doesn’t feel comfortable. She knows this is not the right reaction. She spends endless hours days and nights to analyse such situations, angry with her clients who again triggered her, feeling helpless and disappointed at herself. So many times she already promised to herself not to react in this way, yet here she is again, repeating the same story.
Ann came to me to get free from this pattern. She felt like she’s acting in the same movie scene again and again. She wanted to get out, she was tired, yet she was still stuck there for years.
Ann knows she is letting her clients boss her around, affecting her self-esteem, sleep and inner peace. Often she didn’t get paid for her services as she didn’t want to argue.
Now she decided she is ready to move on and get more out of her life. She wants to be genuine, clear and tactful when she tells what she thinks. Even when she disagrees with her clients. She was ready to learn how to communicate her view in a mature, calm and professional way. So the client will not be offended.
1. UNCOVER THE LOGIC
On our first coaching session Ann became fully aware of the exact event that led her to the following conclusion:
when you disagree with the person who’s paying you, it’s best to keep your mouth shut.
She realised in the past she was working for a boss who expected her to be obedient. He had a special way of speaking with her. And those clients that spoke with Ann in such a way as he did, triggered a reaction in Ann: she bent her head and quietly swallowed everything she was asked to do.
In the past such conclusion was maybe appropriate, she kept her job as his assistant and her boss didn’t really value her opinion.
Now she is in a different situation. She became an expert in her field. Her clients are now paying her to tell them her expert opinion.
Staying quiet today is not appropriate in this situation. What Ann needed next was to find her voice to tell her opinion in a professional way.
We dived deeper and discovered more interesting issues that kept her stuck. All of them together formed Ann’s logic that was unique just for her.
As she recognised her own logic, everything fell into place and made sense to her. Like from a balcony she saw why she reacted this way every time her client disagreed with her. This was a huge Aha moment that felt like a breakthrough.
Getting on the balcony and grasping our own logic is something we can hardly do by ourselves. We usually get so caught into our own story that we need someone who can help us get on the balcony. Most of my clients fail to do this themselves and tiptoe around their issue for years, wishing they came sooner instead of wasting so much time, money and sleepless nights before.
The first step in this coaching process was she became aware of what is the cause, what is her old logic and what is the pattern that she kept on using in certain situations.
Only after Ann was clear on all that, could we move forward to the step 2- finding the new best way to communicate it.
2. SEARCHING FOR THE NEW BEST APPROACH
Before she came to me, Ann was already looking for alternative ways to tell her clients she disagrees with them. There were many techniques, tools and approaches she tried with only little success.
Ann also observed her colleagues who easily told their clients they disagree. Of course, Ann wanted to do the same.
Yet each person is different. And if speaking directly and loud comes naturally to her colleague, that might not be your style. That was also the case with Ann.
Ann was tactful, kind and caring. She didn’t want to hurt anyone, especially not her clients.
Ann and I discussed several alternative ways she could use to respond to a client when she disagrees with him. When she saw different approaches, she could easily choose the one, that felt natural to her. Responding in this way was aligned with her true values and she was at ease using it from the beginning.
We practised how she will respond in a similar situation in this new way. We adapted it a bit more so she really felt comfortable. Her face was glowing from relief, happy to finally find her true voice. Ann was eager to test it in a real situation. Finally, she will express her opinion in her authentic way!
There were no signs of previous fear, awkwardness or stiffness that Ann was dealing with before when she was addressing disagreements in the wrong way.
3. CREATING CALMNESS
On our coaching session, Ann felt the courage to put it all in practice as soon as possible.
Yet, situations like this are rather unpredictable.
You might wonder when will you get the next opportunity to test it out?
If you’re working as a customer service representative you have plenty of opportunities to practice new approach each day.
If you are a VA with 3 major clients and you need to test how to respond to a disagreement with one of them, you might wait for a long time before one of your clients disagrees with you. But because you need to respond professionally in case this happens, it’s best to prepare in advance.
Many people wonder if their courage will fade away while they wait for the situation to occur. What if I forget this new approach and react in the same old unproductive way? What if I freeze again?
You might be worrying and overthinking while you wait. That’s normal. Although staying in such a mindset is not helpful.
What I teach my clients is how to make the most out of this time so they use it to their best benefit.
So at this time, they learn things like
* how to stay calm while they wait
* what exactly they can do to practice courage
* how they can prepare in advance so they will not get sucked into a dramatic whirlwind
* how to stay present, centred and conscious throughout their conversations.
Ann started practising right away. While she was waiting for her next difficult situation, she did NOT worry or overthink. On the contrary- each day she was getting calmer, more grounded and more courageous. I love seeing my clients getting into their power.
Relatively quickly Ann had a call from a client who disagreed with her on a project they worked on. It was a difficult situation that would make her freeze before.
Life always brings us opportunities to practice what we’ve learned!
Ann’s client disagreed with Ann about a project they were working on. Ann is an expert on the field and this time she didn’t hold her tongue. This time she explained her view on the next step in the project, she was polite but clear and respectful. The conversation was a success. She handled this difficult situation professionally. She was so proud and so am I.
On our next coaching session, we analysed it together, looked at what could be improved and Ann got even more tools to get comfortable in such difficult situations. She started enjoying the process of growth where she was respectful to her client and true to herself.
As a result of this professionally lead conversation, Ann’s client easily grasped her ideas about the next step in their project. The client even changed his mind. No, he was not offended- on the contrary- he was happy to get more clarity on the matter and was happy to continue working with Ann.
If you find you’re too much like Ann used to be and not enough like Ann is now then book in a call with me.