10 Easy Questions to Get a Talkative Client to the Point! | By Emma-Louise Elsey (UPDATED)

Talkative Client with Blah Blah Blah coming out of mouth

I'm sure every one of us has had (or has!) a client who likes to tell stories and go into great detail about what happened to whom, when, where, how.

There are a number of possibilities. For example, your client might be attracted to the drama of storytelling. Or perhaps they want to distract you (or themselves) from a difficult issue. They could be a verbal processor - someone who processes by talking out loud. Or they could just be a super 'detail-oriented' person.

There are plenty of reasons WHY some people talk at length, but in this post we're going to look at specific things you can ASK or SAY to get those long-winded storytellers to the point - when you need to!

10 Easy Questions to Get Your Talkative Client to the Point!

First, take a deep breath and say firmly, "I'm going to interrupt you here..." and then try:

  1. So, tell me what finally happens.
  2. In a nutshell, what's the issue/goal here?
  3. So, what would you like to handle first/now?
  4. Can you give me your goal/issue in one sentence?
  5. If you were to take a helicopter view, what do you need me to know?
  6. May we take a quick time out. How does this relate to the goal/issue you want to work on?
  7. So, how did that make you feel?  (great for the 'avoiders')
  8. I'm looking for the storyteller here and not the story - what are the key points that you need to tell me?
  9. If you could sum the situation up in one word or phrase, what would that be?
  10. Lastly, use ONLY with caution and good rapport: "Do you want to spend time talking about your problems or get things sorted?"

The Trick:

You need to be firm and confident.

By all means try a 'soft' interruption first, but if this doesn't work take a deep breath and - if necessary - cut right across them. With some clients this is the only thing that will work.

Remember: your client is paying you to help them move forwards - and to do and say the things that others may struggle to do...

Watch out for:

Sometimes a client's story contains essential elements they need to be coached around. Or perhaps your client needs to feel heard and have a safe place to 'vent' and explore how they feel.

Your client may also simply be a person who likes detail or finds it helpful to work through their thoughts sequentially.

So when this situation arises, you'll need to use your coaching skills (both your head and your heart) as well as trusting your gut - which of course gets easier with practice and experience!

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4 Comments

  1. Thomas Nexø

    In the beginning of your coaching career, you are afraid to run out of things to ask and that the conversation gets stuck. And when the conversation is on track you are anxious that the time is wasted and that the conversation runs off track. Both valid, yet so different...

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Thomas, yes that is so true! Every client, session, relationship is so different too 🙂 Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply
  2. barbara

    Emma Louise I cannot thank you enough for these tools. I am so excited to use them with my clients. I truly have so many hidden fears to overcome and by using these I know it will help me immensely thanks again for all you do. Oh also in January 2020 I am going to finally offer the Renew You, Love your Life Program as a 12 week workshop setting, Excited, scared and so grateful to be able to do this

    Reply
    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Barbara, I am so glad the article was helpful! And that is sooooo lovely to hear - that you'll be offering Renew You Love Your Life in January! 🙂 Enjoy - and stay in touch! Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply

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