Interactive Health coach Susan Logan finds common ground with her participants to build a trusting relationship and reduce barriers to changing habits. This strategy paid off for an employee who lost 36 pounds and successfully stopped chewing tobacco after 20 years.
I can’t underestimate the power of connecting with my clients on a personal level. In our first session, I always ask where they live, who they work for and what they do. Almost every time I can connect with them on some level, and this sets the tone for future coaching sessions.
Here’s one example. An employee working for meat processing plant signed up for a tobacco-cessation course with me because his doctor recommended it. He also was paying a surcharge on his health insurance at work due to his tobacco use.
He chewed tobacco twice a week for 20 years and more often if his workload was heavy. He said he used tobacco to deal with stress, and that he “got more done when he took a dip and listened to music.”
Immediately, I could relate to him because my husband has a similar job that involves high-stress, travel and unusual hours. The client appreciated that I could understand his challenges because I incorporated my personal knowledge into the discussion, and it resonated with him.
During our sessions, I would use stories from similar participants to motivate him and provide ideas on how to recognize what was behind his desire to dip. I would encourage him to switch out the negative behavior for something else in stressful situations. Making this type of connection that originally seemed unrelated resulted in an “ah-ha” moment, and from that time forward, he owned the process.
During our 2 ½ months working together, my client became tobacco-free and made many other lifestyle changes, including regular exercise, healthy eating and cutting out alcohol. He lost 36 pounds, is at his goal weight, and many of his lab values returned to a normal range.
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