In my last post, I expanded on the second step of the 7 Steps to Enabling Your Clients to Master Change. You saw how I worked with the sort of patient who refuses to see what's before him, or to accept the responsibility for what's going on by saying, "You're the doctor."
Here's another example: someone who says he's been to other chiropractors and wants to use those sorts of objections to avoid working with you.
"I've been to other chiropractors and it hasn't worked," this patient says.
Again, that's the patient not taking responsibility. Even if they've been responsible for going to other chiropractors, they still consider themselves to be a victim. A conditional victim. A conditional victims means that someone feels that even though he's empowered, he can't move past something in his past.
"Well, I've been to other chiropractors. It hasn't worked."
"Great. Well, did they take X-rays?"
If they say no, then I say, "How did they know what they were fixing?"
"Well, he would feel my spine," the patient says.
"What was his goal?"
"Well, to make me feel better," the patient says.
Give the patient a visual that will help him remember that situation. "Well, that chiropractor had a very short-term goal. It's like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound." Then ask, "Would you agree?"
If the patient tells me that the other chiropractors took X-rays, then I'd ask: "Did they show you that these curves were weak and distorted?"
If the patient replied, "Yes," then I'd ask, "Did they set you up on a program to correct it where they would take new X-rays?"
The most common answer is going to be, "No."
Then I'd say, "They took X-rays, and they saw that, but they didn't set you up on a program that would fix it, and give you lifelong strength and health. What you experienced was the result of a short-term goal, and you bought into that." That's still validating the person, and letting the patient know he's taken responsibility.
"Well, I didn't know there was a difference," the patient says.
"No. I understand." I would say, "And you followed their instructions." Then I ask, "Now, when you see this, is your goal different? Do you want a stronger and healthier body? Do you want to change what's causing that so you can have a better life?"
When they say, "Yes," they've lost the right to object to the program if they object tomorrow or whenever you give them the recommendations. Maybe they’ll say, "Well, Doc, it's a lot of money."
"That's interesting, because yesterday you said that this was the time in your life that you were ready to make a change. What's changed in you?"
At this point, I don't have to sell them. This is what coaching is. Use the communication that the patients give you. I can lead them into that communication where they lose the right to object. All I'm helping them do is trying to get what they want. This isn't sales. It's coaching.
Now, let's go back to that same scenario. What if the patient says, "Yes, he did give me a program that would correct it."
I'd say, "Did you follow it?"
He'd say, "No."
I'd say, "Why not? Why did you give up having a strong, healthy body for such a short-term goal that would actually sabotage the strength and health of your body? Why would you do that? I'd like to understand why."
Now I'm confronting him. It's a bit of a pattern interruption.
If you think you can't confront a patient like that, you're thinking about yourself rather than your patient. Provoke a pattern interruption to break that cycle of victimhood.
Let's go back to this patient again, "Why didn't you follow it?"
They'll give you a reason, and then you say, "Are you going to do the same thing here?"
Now they're qualifying themselves. A great coach is just a mirror. Most people don't even agree with what they're saying. They're just spitting it out because it's an emotional decision they've made in the past that's wired into them even if they know it doesn't apply right now. Even if they don't know anything else to do—without thinking, it comes out of their mouth. But we're trained to spot that.
In my next post, I'll offer you a few examples you might have heard of patients/clients not accepting responsibility. These should will help you recognize situations that you can use to bring a patient closer to you. In the meantime, what other examples can you think of where patients hesitate from engagement with you because they haven't yet accepted responsibility for where they are? Thank you for sharing.