Resistance in a client is a sign of lack of rapport. This is one of the presuppositions of NLP and on a recent NLP Practitioner training, one of the delegates questioned if this was always true.

“What if you’re doing everything you can as a practitioner and the client just doesn’t want to hear what you have to say? How can it still be down to my rapport building skills?”

“If your client doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, have you got rapport with them?” I responded.

“Hmm, no, I guess not.” She said.

Since I work a great deal with children, there is a greater tendency for them to arrive at a session and be non compliant in the session. This is usually because they have been brought there by a parent and the child themselves isn’t in agreement at either having some help, is embarrassed to talk about the problem or is simply protesting about having been bought to see me. This has mean that I’ve had to learn some ways to get them from a state of compliance to comfortable.

We start with the goal of making them comfortable because the jump between non-compliance to compliance is too big a leap. Here are the steps that I take to get us there:

Comfortable: Can I make the client initially comfortable with being in the room with me. That might be a simple as asking them if the temperature is OK, if they are alright with where they are sitting.

Get them listening: To get them listening instead of repelling me, I tell them about what is in it for them (the pleasure). How help people feel well and happier.

Give them simple tasks: To increase their compliance, I start by asking them their name and address. It gets us into the exchange of me leading the session and them feeling like it’s easy to respond.

Build leverage: I find the cartesian co-ordinate questions are very helpful for building leverage. Leverage is the motivation to move. It’s the pain vs pleasure and is what makes them feel as if it is time to take some action and get some help to change.

The cartesian co-ordinate questions explore a problem (in this case. Cartesian co-ordinates are actually a form of grid referencing for use in maths and map reading) from all possible angles. The positives of doing something, the negatives of doing something, the negatives of doing something and the negatives of doing nothing (for example).

So they would sound something like this:

What would happen if you did solve this problem?
What wouldn’t happen if you solved this problem?
What would happen if you didn’t solve this problem?
What wouldn’t happen if you didn’t solve this problem?

Having gone through the above, whilst using standard rapport building techniques throughout, matching and mirroring etc, if I find that the client is still being non-compliant, I simply tell them that I am getting that vibe from them and ask them if they know why that would be.

Sometimes, there is a something else going on with them in the background which may have no relation to why they are there with you. Once they have opened up about it you have the opportunity to help them and can move on from there. In addition, they will respect your honesty and openness and it sets the standard for them to do the same from that point onwards.

By Gemma Bailey