Data & Behavioural Insights

With resistance comes opportunity

As mutual obligations for jobseekers begin to take effect, you as a job coach may start to encounter more resistance from your clients, and that’s completely normal given the unprecedented changes that have occurred since the beginning of 2020. Resistance often comes with a fear of change and also resistance can be a signal that the client views the situation differently from yourself, and that’s perfectly normal.

However, resistance actually offers you an opportunity to respond in a new, perhaps surprising way, enabling you to take control over the conversation without being confrontational.

Using your superior job coach knowledge, you can learn to identify any resistance and then ‘roll with it’. Here are some useful and effective coaching tips.

How to identify resistance in your clients in person or over the phone.


1. Seem distracted, i.e. playing with phone, watch, staring out the window etc. 

2. May become defensive (argue) with you when. asked about their job seeking efforts.

3. Ignore questions or sidetrack away from the direction conversation. 

4. May interrupt you. 


Here’s how to respond appropriately and effectively:


1. See things from your client’s perspective even if you don’t agree, this helps your client feel heard and understood – active listening is a key skill here e.g., mirroring body language, tone of voice

2. Empathise and explore the current issues your client is having around finding work

3. Recognise your client’s strengths that they display and bring these to the forefront whenever possible

4. Avoid arguing for change, as the worst thing you can do is push back

5. Create a gap between where the client is and where he/she wants to be (the best possible self evidenced-based activity is a great one)

6. Use double-sided reflection. Reflect both sides of the ambivalence. You are reflecting what you hear your client say about the reasons not to change and also the reasons to change

7. Support autonomy and personal control by saying “I’m hearing that you don’t like the idea of getting a job yet, and that’s ok”

8. Explore the positive and negative consequences of change or continuing current job seeking behaviour by helping your client explore pros and cons of getting a job


Finally Remember… If you try any of the above ideas and they don’t immediately seem to work, you don’t have to push them. Wait at least a day or two, even a week. Sometimes responding to resistance in this way may have helped your client to become more aware of the issues or more inclined to change but in the heat of the moment they may not let you know that, so give them a chance to calm down and reflect on the interchange for a day or two, before you conclude that your approach hasn’t helped. You may be surprised by their reaction if you wait a little longer!