We’ve all been there. We’ve put our foot in our mouth so many times. Sometimes it's about something that isn't a huge deal and easily brushed off, but it's especially awkward when it's about something so incredibly deep and emotional. We feel awful when it's with a client whom we not only love, but are doing business with.
I am not invincible to this, and I'd like to share some experiences i've had personally. Maybe, you've experienced something similar?
I once had my kiddo with me at my studio since I was waiting on childcare to pick her up. My client saw her and said, "aww, how cute". Later during the treatment, I asked her how many kids she had. She said an 8 year old, a 6 year old and what would have been a 4 year old and she burst out into tears. I had recently had a miscarriage so I burst out into tears as well. I never asked the question the same, I forever add on the words “at home”. "How many children do you have at home?” has been a better choice of words because it gives them choice to bring it up or not.
I also have to find out first if a client is pregnant or not, because we have to ask on the consent for any contraindications. Do not assume the next time that the client is pregnant- let them bring this up. I once asked a client “So how far along are you now!?” right as we began the appointment. Only to find out she had lost the baby and the rest of the appointment was tense and needless to say not relaxing for her.
If your client is getting married, recently got married or has an anniversary coming up, it's just not appropriate to ask: When are the babies happening…etc. Let the client bring it up first.
I repeat, let the client bring it up first!
I recently interviewed Vanessa Swier of Vanessa Swier Coaching and Consulting, LLC on being CNBC (Childless Not By Choice) and fulfilled.
Be mindful because some clients, 15% actually, cannot conceive.
We discussed this in detail and you can hear more here on The Fox Talk Podcast.
But here's what she had to say:
What if your dream of having a baby is just physically not possible - and you stop trying to conceive and start focusing your energy on re-imagining what your future will look like? Vanessa tells us her story of not giving up - but instead, walking away from something that was no longer serving her and shifting her attention to redefining what hope (and fulfillment) looks like in her life.
Help is available. FULFILLMENT is available
If you’re struggling with infertility or being CNBC, you’re not alone.
Your friends and family know you, love you and want to help - but sometimes they don’t know what to say and they definitely don’t know what it’s like to be in your shoes.
Vanessa is a long time psychotherapist and certified Clini-Coach® who created Vanessa Swier Coaching and Consulting to help women pick up the pieces after Infertility Heartbreak so they can feel whole and empowered again… even if they didn’t get their miracle baby. Vanessa knows what it's like to walk in those shoes and is passionate about helping other women find and cultivate hope after Infertility Heartbreak.
If this hits home for you, here's the link again to check that podcast episode.
What’s triggering that us as service providers can avoid saying?
A lot of people don’t realize how personal the topic of having children can be. Therefore, I would advise not bringing up children unless the client brings it up first. Instead, you could focus on asking them about their hobbies or other interests, their plans for the day or upcoming weekend, if they’ve seen any good movies or have read a good book lately, etc.
If they do bring up children, again because we don’t know their circumstances, asking “how many children do you have” could be triggering especially if they’ve lost a child or a pregnancy.
Another option for avoiding saying anything triggering would be to offer silent sessions. Someone who is struggling emotionally might benefit from permission to not fill the space with idle chit chat and just be pampered in the moment. A bonus with this approach is the provider also gets a break from talking.