In the coaching field, we have a term called The Saboteur. As a client steps forward to changes in their lives, their inner alarm goes off. Homeostasis, or the tendency to maintain the status quo is strong and powerful force and a clients plans to make changes in their lives will tilt the machine on its head. All of us have a powerful self-sabotaging voice or voices. When a client starts to contemplate making changes – sobriety or eating well – the Saboteur is awaken! The Saboteur has all the reasons ready for why this plan (whatever your client has in mind) is a stupid, dangerous, hopeless or otherwise ill-advised course of action. The Saboteur is particularly adept at taking a small piece of the truth and fabricating it into the blanket reason for stopping, or never starting.
In the early stages of coaching a client I will ask a provocative question, “How will you try to sabotage our relationship?” This usually gets a look that is both puzzled and angry. However, deep inside most people know exactly what I’m asking. They are just more shocked by the fact that I called them out on it. It is though, an essential question to be asked and talked about if the coaching relationship is to work.
I watch many clients try to sabotage the coach / coachee relationship. They will ghost (no calls or texts), be late or no snow for meetings, not complete homework or assignments, pick fights with the coach in order to generate a reasons to terminate the relationship. It is imperative to address the saboteur early if the relationship is to succeed.
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