How to Handle Missed Appointments

A Blog Post by Brian Miller

I got up early on a Saturday morning, usually one of the few days I might get to catch up on my sleep. A new client had signed up, which for a new coach is quite affirming. This client had a very demanding job and lived in a different time zone, so we ended up scheduling at 6:30am on Saturday morning. The early rise was rough but the joy I always received from coaching this client was worth the effort.

Preparation is key to me so I wanted to be sure I was in an environment conducive for a great coaching session. I decided to go to my church office for this call, which required a little more effort and a drive in the dark. Settling into my chair, I powered up the computer, pulled my headset over my ears, and waited for my client to call.

6:30am – He didn’t call.

6:34am – He didn’t call.

6:41am – He didn’t call.

Sometimes people forget. Sometimes something comes up. I had determined at this point in my career to give my client 15 minutes before I gave up.

6:45am – He still didn’t call.

Here is where it all went wrong. I was irritated. It might not have been as bad if I hadn’t gone to so much effort. I texted my client that he had missed the call. He responded quickly and apologetically. He had forgotten.

I was still in a slow broil. My contract says that if you miss an appointment without prior notification, it is still a paid appointment. This wasn’t any problem. He had purchased six sessions. It wasn’t like I was going to have to bill him, but something insidious inside me felt the need for one more step. I texted him and let him know that this would be a paid session. He responded quickly, “That’s fine.”

We never coached again. He passively refused to set up another appointment. I called my mentor coach (mentor coaches are a must) and told him what had happened and how I responded. He had two observations.

  1. I was right to charge him for the session.
  2. I was wrong to tell him.

The contract was clear. The only reason to tell him was to inflict a bit of injury to compensate for the injury I felt in being forgotten. It was inappropriate. If I had known this, I might still be coaching him. He was a joy to coach. And I might be coaching his peers as well. He had already mentioned it.

7 Ways to make the Most from Your Next Conference

By Chad Hall

Summertime is conference time for many people.  Maybe you’re one of those who’s planning to attend and benefit from a conference in the coming months.  I know I am – including a writer’s conference in June.  (Since you’re reading my blog post, maybe you’re hoping the conference will improve my writing!)

Conferences are great.  You get to meet new people, connect with old friends, learn, grow, get motivated, and hopefully improve some aspect of life or work.  But conferences can also be a disappointment.   Too often the motivational high and crystal clarity we have during the conference give way to energy doldrums and cloudy confusion within a week of returning home.  We get back to the grind and soon the goodness of the conference is ground right out of us.  In fact, some studies show that performance after a conference actually diminishes over the long run.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.  Conference highs don’t have to be followed by real world woes.  Here are seven ways you can get more from your next conference (or help those you coach do so):

  1. Think about the Long Run. Ask yourself how the conference fits into your overall journey.  When you visualize out two, five, or ten years, you will see the conference in a new perspective.  While you may not be able to connect the conference to specific long-term goals or outcomes, thinking about he long run will help to place the conference into the sweep of the story you are in and help you envision how the conference can serve the story you are in.
  2. Come with Questions. If you want to get the most from a conference, prepare by writing down the most pressing questions you face related to the conference topic before you get to the conference.  In fact, this is also a great way to determine whether a conference is a good fit for you.  If you don’t have three to five pressing questions that should be addressed by the conference, then you might want to skip it. To be clear, don’t just capture the pressing issues you face; be sure to articulate those into questions that invite answers.  There is a big difference between “staffing issues” and “How do I lead my staff without coming across like a jerk?”  A precise question begs for resolution.
  3. Enhance Big Ideas with Some “So What? Sauce.” Once you get to the conference, (hopefully) your brain will be bombarded with big ideas.  Big ideas are good, but they become great when connected to something practical.  To get the most from the conference, recognize the big ideas and ask yourself how you can turn this awesome brain spark into something practical.  One way to do this is to isolate each big idea and rub it down with what I call some “So What? Sauce.”  This means asking a series of “So what?” questions, such as:  So what would this mean for our team?  So what could I do with this idea?  So what if I totally ignored this?  So what is the best thing that could come from this?  And of course, just plain old “So what?”  Let these “So what?” questions push you to start connecting big ideas toward practical actions and outcomes.
  4. Take Action Immediately. The biggest obstacle to great conference results is lack of action.  The reason so little action gets taken is that we wait until we get back from the conference to take action, so eliminate this obstacle by taking actions while at the conference.  While the ideas are fresh, your motivation is high, and the decibel level from the real world is still relatively low, take advantage by taking action.  Go back to your hotel room and do what you can do.  Get on the phone and get the ball rolling.  Set things in motion so that when you return home you don’t have to extend the mental and emotional energy needed to push the ignition button.
  5. Schedule a Review within One Week. If you’re like most people, the thing right in front of you is what gets your attention.  So when you’re at the conference, you’re focused on the big picture and possibilities and all that good stuff.  When you get home, the mundane takes over your mind and all that conference good stuff starts to fade away.  To prevent this, schedule time on your calendar (two or three hours seems reasonable) to review your conference notes, action plans, follow up items, etc.  Make this a calendar appointment with yourself and your ideas, and don’t give in to the temptation to break the appointment.  After all, why invest hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to get great ideas from a conference and then not invest a couple of hours to make the most of it?
  6. Keep Your Leftovers Fresh. Great ideas feed your mind and soul, and some of the best lessons from the conference need to come home with you so you can keep the feast going for a long, long time.  This is especially true if the conference inspired you to form a new habit, discipline or approach because those kinds of things take time to realize.  To keep the best-of-the-best ideas from the conference fresh and front-of-mind, use a sticky note, desktop screen saver, pictures on your desk, a motto written on your dry erase board, or a symbolic relic placed on your desk.  A relic could include a coffee mug, a stuffed animal, a seashell, a toy, or a household item.  I have friend who came back from a leadership conference committed to exhibiting a leadership style that was more salt (enhancing, encouraging, Christ-like) than pepper (sharp, pungent, overwhelming) and reminded himself of his commitment by placing non-matching salt and pepper shakers on his desk.
  7. Work with a Coach. Okay, so you knew this one was coming, didn’t you?  Conferences are worth their price when they lead to change, but change is hard.  If you want to facilitate change for yourself, work with a coach.  My sense is that if you invested $1,000 in the conference, you’d more than quadruple your return by investing another $1,000 for after-conference coaching.  A coach is going to provide the structure and ongoing focus to help you translate the conference into real, positive change.

What about you? 

What conferences are you planning to attend this year?

What’s your dream conference/topic?

What have you found helpful in making the most of conferences?  Leave your comments below.


Learn the Forbidden Skill – Share Your Story

A Blog Post by Bill Copper

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how much our coaching conversations are just that – conversations. According to Wikipedia, a conversation is a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people.

Did you see those two descriptors?

  1. Interactive
  2. Spontaneous

What does it mean to have an interactive, spontaneous coaching conversation? Aren’t we as coaches supposed to only reflect back what our clients are saying? Ask some powerful questions? Maybe give a direct message now and then? Well…yes….and NO!

In our own coach training courses, we do indeed spend a lot of time helping break any natural tendencies to dominate the conversation, or interject too much of their own thinking. Particularly in our early foundational classes, we attempt to get the pendulum swinging away from telling and more toward asking. But that isn’t the end of the story for coaches. Our coaching conversations are to be actual conversations. With interactive and spontaneous communication. So, what does that look like? How do we as coaches engage in these types of conversations and still maintain our coaching mindsets that the client has the answers and they are much more likely to act upon their own ideas, hopes and dreams?

I want to share a few principles for how you can share yourself – your story – in the coaching conversation without violating any of the principles you’ve learned for effectively helping others move forward.

First, remember that you are a participant in the conversation, but the conversation is not about you. So, start with a mindset that your purpose for sharing your story is for the benefit of the client – their agenda – their forward movement. Your story should never become the focus, but rather a means to create awareness for your clients.

Next, keep some perspective about how much of your story to share. Keep it brief and then quickly hand back the conversation to your client. Don’t get carried away in telling your story to the point that the focus shifts to you – and don’t tell so much of it, that the conclusion in any way points to a solution for your client.

Also, be very intentional about handing back the conversation to your client with a clear expectation that they can/will take from your story whatever is meaningful for them – not because it had meaning for you.

So….when is a good time to share your story in a coaching conversation? And what kind of stories should you tell? I have found a few really impactful times to share something of myself with my clients and tell them my story:

  • As a means of connecting and building intimacy and trust – this may be some of the most valuable sharing that you can do. When you can gain your client’s trust through sharing something of yourself – particularly something vulnerable. We often assure our clients that the coaching relationship is a safe space for them to share in a confidential setting whatever is on their heart. I’ve found there’s no better way to demonstrate that than by trusting them with whatever is on my heart. When I take a risk and am really vulnerable with my clients, I find it builds trust very quickly and gives them confidence that they can do the same.
  • To “normalize” something they are thinking, feeling, or doing – Sometimes our clients can be tempted to think they are the only ones to have ever done or thought or felt something and they often feel guilty or embarrassed about it. When I can share a story of how I’ve had similar thoughts or taken similar actions, it can help my clients feel less anxiety about their own story.
  • To illustrate a principle – Often we can relate to our clients’ issues because of our own past experiences. This can sometimes serve us well and at other times trap us into imagining their story will turn out like our story. When we are able to relate our story to our clients in a way that illustrates a principal or provides an example, we can potentially create great new awareness for our clients as they draw parallels between the stories and determine what, if any, meaning the illustration has for them. In this area of sharing your story you want to be certain to pay attention to some of the cautions I’ve mentioned above.

If we’re going to have meaningful conversations with our coaching clients, we need to be prepared to take some risk by sharing of ourselves – our story – in that conversation. Engaging in interactive, spontaneous communication with others includes sharing about yourself, and, when done effectively, can help create intimacy, trust, and awareness that can help your clients move ahead.