Center for Executive Coaching

Executive Coaching Tool: Overstatement and Understatement

Sometimes the executive coach can help the client achieve insights by intentionally overstating or understating what they hear.

For instance, today I worked with a client who was frustrated with an employee and didn’t know what to do. So I took the situation too far and said, “Maybe it is time to fire this person."

The client responded by disagreeing — and then offering her own more moderate and thoughtful solution to the problem.

On the other hand, last week I worked with a client who seemed unwilling to make a decision and take action about an issue. So I said, “This problem must not be a serious one for you, since you aren’t willing to make a commitment. We have all the information we are going to get, but you won’t take action, so I can only conclude that this is not a pressing issue. Let’s move on to something else."

The client responded by choosing a sound course of action and committing to next steps.

If you feel that this approach is inauthentic, you can make it more open and honest by prefacing your remarks, as follows: “I’m going to be provocative here and play a role…"

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