Hi, my name is Elise, and I am a Vata. Not familiar with Ayurveda terminology? Let me translate. In common vernacular, a Vata is someone you might describe as spacey, wacky, or “out there.” Vatas have been known to ramble. Did I tell you about the time I saw a bear in the woods? Or the time I spilled my tea when I was talking about that bear in the woods? I share traits with my off-kilter coaching clients so I’ve learned to turn my own knowledge of Vatas’ weaknesses into a coaching strength. As a result, I have unlocked a code to help you coach your most ungrounded clients.
But first let me digress. I have to; I’m a Vata!
When I was on break as a freshman in college, I invited my friend Hillary Jenkins to my grandmother’s ranch home in the high Sierra mountains of California. Shortly after arriving, we sat in the kitchen with Mamah (as her grandchildren called her). The room was comforting with cabinets filled with Willow Wear dishes, cast iron pots, and an antique gas stove right next to the kitchen table. Mamah began telling a story.
I glanced at the old-fashioned wall clock, watching its pendulum swing back and forth. I made a note of the time. My friend and I sat captivated as Mamah spun tale after tale. She was an interesting lady. She collected antiques, organized equestrian shows, tended an organic garden (before anyone called it that), and even founded a museum with a group of ladies known as “The Bouffant Mafia.” Before we knew it, an hour had passed, and Mamah finally had gotten to the punch line of her story. Hillary and gave each other a “Let’s escape NOW!” look. We kindly excused ourselves to go for a swim in the river.
What I learned growing up with ungrounded, yet highly-functioning adults has helped me tremendously as a coach.
Stop the Madness Distracted Clients Cause
I’ve written some tips for you to help “Stop the Madness” when your ungrounded clients start to ramble during a session, a class, or when they simply go off the rails in your programs. Use these 5 tips to unlock the code of the distracted Vata mind.
- Use Empathy. It’s vital to use empathy with Vata clients. No one told most of us Vatas that it was ok to be “a bit different.” Many of us became insecure because the action oriented, type-A people got all the praise. We Vatas were often compared to our decisive type-A siblings, classmates, and teachers. We were judged, which only made matters worse because most ungrounded people are EXTREMELY sensitive. We can smell judgement a mile away, often before the person casting judgement realizes they are judging. Let go of judgment and find empathy. If your client still drives you crazy, and you are unable to conjure up an ounce of empathy, consider ending your agreement. The person you are coaching may be spinning mentally or emotionally. If you can’t understand their real or perceived trauma and relate, the ungrounded Vata may not be your ideal client.
- Know your Clients’ “WHY.” For a Vata, it’s crucial that you find this out early on in your relationship. Be curious, and again, have compassion. Take notes and be prepared to reflect back what you hear. You are the messenger. Vatas need LOTS of reminding. They get distracted easily. They love to smell the roses, watch the birds, and ponder. And your job is to keep them on track. Remind them why they are working with you and why they want to change, in their words, with their reasons. Sometimes Vatas may have more complicated reasoning. Sometimes they have been traumatized. Have compassion and dig deep to find the real and raw reasons they seek help.
- Observe Clear Boundaries and Ground Rules. Your job as a coach is to keep the Vata on track. Keep them focused on their “Why,” and then steer them towards that “Why Goal” using baby steps. Ground rules include how much time you spend in your coaching sessions and the quantifiable amount of work you expect your client to do between sessions. Stick to a written agreement, and then refer to the ground rules if the vata gets distracted and fails to do the homework you’ve agreed on together. Vatas seem to find possibilities in everything. This is a strength most of the time. It becomes a weakness when a Vata self sabotages with a million creative excuses.
- Use a Timer and Interrupt As Needed. A timer is your best friend when the ungrounded client goes off the rails. Time is an important boundary. It serves as a container for your coaching work and can be a difficult limitation for Vatas, whose elements are air and ether. As a coach, you will need to take control and bring the earth element into your sessions. If you are working one on one, time the segments of your coaching session, and let the timer ring loudly when the client keeps talking. If you are working with a Vata in a group, don’t hesitate to gently and compassionately interrupt the Vata person if they begin to ramble. Keep them focused on their point and what they want help with. If there are numerous things that need changes, make the client pick one. If they can’t pick one immediately, give them a homework assignment to choose one thing to work on.
- Remind the Vata of their Action Steps. Often ungrounded clients want to build a superhighway before they cut a small trail. The ability to see the big picture is a gift; however, this can get in the way. Seeing possibility is one of Vata’s strengths. Issues arise when the rubber meets the road and grandiose and complex plans are not broken down into manageable steps. Help your ungrounded client break down their fabulous new ideas Kaizen style–into small, manageable steps and habits. Change big goals, such as losing 100 pounds, into small, bite-size doable steps, such as taking five, slow, deep breaths before each meal.
Ok coaches, there you have it: The code to help you keep your most ungrounded clients on track and stop the madness distracted clients cause in your group programs. Use these five tips for your talkative students and your upset or emotionally de-railed clients and see how easy it is to keep the Vata mind focused and aimed in the direction of their goals. Your “out-there” clients will love you and keep coming back for more!
Some days I’m Vata; some days I’m Pitta. I’m hardly ever Kapha . . .. Have you seen that Dr. Seuss book My Many Colored Days…It’s my favorite…Some days I’m yellow, some days I’m blue? Then comes a mixed up day and I don’t know what to do. But it all turns out alright you see and I go back to being me. Ok, before I go full-on Vata on you, I’ll let you go.