How do you Coach a client who talks constantly without pause

Have you ever worked with someone who talks constantly? What I mean by that is a client who starts speaking and doesn’t even pause for breath.

As the Coach you may not be able to even get the contract in place or clarify the client’s outcomes. It’s a problem, right? Or is it?

Before considering how you might manage such a client it is important to assess what is going on for your client. Are they getting value from talking out loud and using you as a silent sounding board? Do they find solutions as they talk out loud or do they seem to be going round in circles?

If the client is genuinely getting benefit from this approach maybe it is not a problem for them. Is it a problem for you? This could be an opportunity to notice your own reactions and process. This can be great content for a supervision session or supervision group.

Alternatively, is the client’s incessant talking unhelpful for the client? Do they need you, as Coach to intervene and help them?

Unhelpfully constant talking can have a number of causes here are a couple of possibilities.

Firstly, some people communicate in this way as a habit whenever they talk with (or at) others. It may be a barrier in their life generally too. Such people will be used to being interrupted. This means that if you interrupt gently but firmly you should be able to start focusing the client on outcomes etc. The way you do this is important because if you do it in a clumsy way you may break trust and rapport.  If this is something you are not certain how to do you might consider taking the topic to supervision for guidance.

A second cause could be anxiety or nervousnous. The cause of the anxiety may be the coaching process  itself or could be the topic the client is bringing to coaching. If it is the former they may need reassurance about the process of coaching.  Where the topic is the source of the anxiety the client may just need you as Coach to provide the space for them “download”. In such cases once the client has shared their thoughts, feelings and feels supported they often change their speech patterns to a more conversational style allowing the normal process of coaching to proceed. Listening to this type of client is essential in order to build rapport and trust.

There are other causes of incessant talking, the trick is being able to spot the cause and provide the client with the appropriate type of coaching intervention. What has been your experience of this type of client? What other causes have you recognised and how did you handle them?

Melody Cheal MSc MAPP
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