So you launched your group! And it's running! And people are transforming before your eyes!
And... there's that. one. participant.
The one who already knows it all (So WHY did they join your group? ARGH?)
Or the one that is overwhelmingly emotional, week after week (And it's triggering your coach gremlin - why aren't they breaking through?)
Or the one who dominates the conversation with every detail of the story (yes, you could have put guidelines in place but you didn't so... now what?)
What happens when someone in your group is... difficult?
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It happens to every coach - that one participant in your group is draining your energy. And worse, draining the energy of the rest of your participants. What can you do?
1) First, realized that they're in front of you for a reason. The people that trigger us are our teachers.
They're might be a mirror, reflecting back something in yourself that might be addressed. They might be an opportunity to tackle a coaching skill you've shied away from - being direct, or being fearless, or setting boundaries.
What is this person here to teach you or show you?
2) Review your guidelines with the group. Didn't have any? Then set some. It's better to course correct than to suffer through the rest of the program without addressing the issue.
Do you have someone who over-talks? Set a time limit on sharing, and stick to it. Do you have someone who is advising others relentlessly? Be transparent at the top of your call and say it! "We don't fix, we don't advise, we don't judge. Here, we support by listening and reflecting". Then, assume the participant needs a model, and give one. "For example..."
Whatever the solution is, implement it and don't worry about being liked. You're here to change lives, not make friends.
3) Set expectations. At the top of your call, let everyone know that you're requesting their permission to interrupt and refocus. The expectation will then be set that you, the leader and coach, will be redirecting non-productive shares.
Got someone who is overemotional? Gently interrupt (you've asked permission!) and compassionately invite them to put themselves on mute so they can process, take out their journal, and let them know at the end of the call, you'll love to hear a 2 sentence summary.
The rest of your community will not only be grateful, but they'll have learned how to compassionately redirect someone.
4) Trust the process. Sometimes in a group coaching setting, we feel responsible for everyone. Are they all participating? Getting their money's worth? Glad they participated? The thing is, you can't get invested in, or become responsible for, people's outcomes.
You have no idea what nugget or kernel people are taking away, or what they are getting that you didn't even know they needed. You're always going to have some people who don't participate after all, some who start and drop out, and some who cross the finish line. Trust THEIR process instead of trying to control it.
If you're triggered by their participation, ask yourself, "What do I think it says about me, as a coach, that this person dropped out?"
Tackle your gremlin then get back in the game.
5) If you have a participant who doesn't respond to loving redirection, guidelines, or repeatedly set expectations, you have a couple choices. One, suffer through and hope that everyone is learning something from this person (not a great choice but hey, I thought I'd give you an out). Second, confront them from a high vibe place, not a triggered place. Got someone who is persistently emotional? Gift them a session to explore why they aren't moving forward in the group. That know-it-all? Gently observe that they have a lot of advice for others and find out more about their motivation for advising even though it's against the guidelines of the group.
The bottom line is that taking on a group coaching program means you do have a responsibility to facilitate the sacred space you've created. You, the coach and leader, take responsibility for the dynamic. While we don't want to control the dynamic, we do want to keep it safe, productive, and "coach-ly".
It's a perfect opportunity to practice fearless coaching and to model empowered ways to handle difficult situations.
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JJ Carolan, the Group Coaching Gal, Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Certified Professional Life Coach. Lots of letters to say.. I understand people.