Circling Dallas

You uncovered a “hotspot” during a session, and it’s all but screaming to be addressed. But your client talks around the obvious, resists your suggestions, and carefully avoids answering your questions directly.
In coaching, we call this behavior “Circling Dallas.”
Here are several signposts you might see along the way, indicating you and your client are in a “holding pattern:”
  • Flowery or indirect language that’s more difficult to follow than usual
  • Resistance to end sessions, despite the coach’s efforts
  • Repeated indirect or evasive answers to probing questions about a particular issue
  • Multiple sessions spent working through the same issue, especially without a willingness to “peel back the layers” or move on to something else
  • Revisiting the same issue without a willingness to explore other perspectives
This situation can be beyond frustrating for a coach. But, before you refer the client to someone else:
  1. Name It – Share what you’re sensing. Your client may not be aware of what’s going on outside themselves, especially if they’re being “emotionally hijacked” by limiting beliefs.
  2. Examine It – Ask the client to help identify what you’re sensing and hear how your request lands. Often, shining the “curiosity spotlight” can bring a new consciousness to the discussion. Also, explore where else these feelings show up in the client’s life – uncovering any common threads can provide great insight.
  3. Flow With It – Go where the energy is, following the trail of resistance to see where it takes you. Allow the client to be with whatever comes up as you unfold what’s presenting. To ensure you honor your client’s pace, resist the urge to “move it along.”
ORSC calls this “revealing the system to itself,” and doing so can turn the tide for a client who’s emotionally hijacked. It might just turn “Circling Dallas” into “The Eagle Has Landed!”
Posted in: branching out