We all make this mistake at times. Someone messes up, and we enter “troubleshooting mode,” where we address an issue as it arises, lecturing people until we get blue in the face. We get frustrated by the behavior of our clients, children or even employees, and we lash out in irritation.

But it doesn’t work.

What does work? What is the appropriate manner to achieve results and assist others in changing? The success is in the delivery.

Bring it up in a calm manner with examples and stories

No child, teen or adult will change at the snap of the fingers or as a response to a single pep talk. Speeches in the heat of the moment don’t penetrate; calm, thoughtful and deliberate discussion penetrates over time.

Say you have a client that routinely shows up late. Or a student that talks back to you. Or a child who is struggling with speaking the truth.

The key to addressing the challenge is how you, as a coach, will respond.

If you lose your cool or composure, then you have compromised your ability to focus on the matter at hand. If you as a guidance counselor “lose it,” then you also lose the respect of your client. The same goes for parent and child.

You might be trying to point out a blind spot, but people cannot see past your frustration and anger. Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneerson writes in “Principles of Education and Guidance” that educators make a grave error when they imagine that shaming or yelling at someone is an effective catalyst for change. If someone does respond to a “lashing out,” then the results will vanish like a fleeting dream.

You want to call someone’s attention to a character flaw? Bring it up in a calm manner with examples and stories to highlight your point. Use neutral language without pointing fingers.You can ask your coachee or child what is the cost of not changing. Share anecdotes that demonstrate the positive trait you would like your client to work towards.

Here’s an example:

Scenario A

Your client is struggling with time management. She is coming late, flaking on her commitments and not coming through with the goals she set for herself.

You become extremely frustrated and tell her how busy you are. How you could have scheduled another client at the time. How she will have to pay for your time anyway. And maybe you throw in that maybe you cannot work together.

Scenario B

Your client is struggling with time management. She is coming late, flaking on her commitments and not coming through with the goals she set for herself.

You’re able to put aside your own frustration and focus on the client. You ask guided questions, such as “what is getting in your way of keeping your commitment?” Or “how can I support you in reaching your goals?” You ask her to think of the consequences of not making change and how her behavior impacts others.

You’re steering clear of a speech.

Or how about this:

Scenario A

Child comes home and throws coat and briefcase on the floor, storms into kitchen and pours orange juice, spilling it and leaving a mess.

You yell “what’s wrong with you? You just came home, and this place looks like a hurricane hit! How many times do I need to remind you to hang up your coat and clean up after yourself?”

Scenario B

Child comes home and throws coat and briefcase on the floor, storms into kitchen and pours orange juice, spilling it and leaving a mess.

You remind the child to hang his coat on the hook, and at a later point, you share a story about a kid who wasn’t organized and how he learned how to be. Or when you’re chatting calmly, you can say, “It’s important to keep the house clean. How can we make sure you remember to hang up your coat?”

The second way is far more effective, but difficult to execute.

Just like a teacher must prepare the material he or she is about to teach, a coach or parent must put in thought about how to best articulate an issue to a coachee.

In order to be an effective coach, it takes a lot of self-control and working on yourself. Because it takes effort to operate in a preemptive manner, rather than an instinctive one.

Self-Reflection: Are you responding to your client reactively or proactively?

Source: Principles of Education and Guidance, Chapter 5