How are you feeling, Ron?
When you’re doing a fantastic life coaching session with clients, you’ll often find that one partner in a couple is more dominant than the other. And that can be tricky to deal with. A life plan has to work for both of them – that means it needs equal input. So, how do we deal with this? Let’s take a look.
It’s common for couples to defer to the other
It’s natural for couples to defer to each other in certain situations – one might be more techy and the other might be more dominant when it comes to holistic, family issues.
But the problem is, if they are sitting with you, it’s quite common for the more technical one to feel like they should take the lead – they probably came into the meeting thinking it was going to be a technical sort of session, so it’s what they are used to doing.
But when it comes to talking about life and lifestyles, the more holistic one has an awful lot to offer. So it’s really important to tease the more holistic one into the conversation. But what do you do if the dominant one is so dominant that this can’t happen naturally?
How to encourage the less dominant partner to contribute
If you are trying to coax the less dominant partner into the conversation, there are a couple of techniques you can use:
Technique 1: Turn your chair
Work out how much more dominant the dominant partner is than their more submissive partner – as a rough percentage. For this example, let’s say it’s 60-40.
Normally, when you’re talking to a couple, you’d sit directly opposite both of them. So if you notice that the partner on the left isn’t really being heard, or doesn’t feel that they are being heard, turn your chair and face them, by the equivalent percentage. If it’s 60% then it’s a slight turn. If it’s 70% then it’s a bigger turn. Then direct more of the questions to that person.
The effect? The more submissive partner will feel more inclined to answer and the more dominant partner should start to recede a little.
But sometimes, the dominant one (let’s call him Ron) will still just answer over the top of their partner – he’ll answer for them. How do you deal with that? That’s where technique 2 comes in.
Technique 2: Ask how the other one ‘feels’
When Ron gives his answer, don’t challenge it, but turn to his partner and say:
“how do you feel about what Ron said there?”
Doing this achieves two things.
- You’re giving permission for the less dominant one to come into the conversation.
- You’re using the word ‘feel.’ For the more holistic one, they will respond well to being asked how they feel. Ron, (who’s technically minded) probably hates anything to do with feelings, so is less likely to jump over his partner and answer the question.
So, use these techniques. Do what you can to shift the dynamic and make sure both partners are contributing equally.
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