Reasons People Don’t Take Action & How to Get them Moving

With the start of 2017, many of us think about the goals we want to accomplish this year and beyond.  If we manage or lead others, we are also helping others set and reach their goals.  As a coach, I am often asked/told, “How do I get ‘Name’ to take action?” or, “No matter what I do or say, this person does not take action!”  I have found through 15+ years of coaching that there are three main reasons human beings don’t take action. 

  1. Missing Skill
  2. Out of my Control
  3. Psychological Block

If you have someone who is not executing or taking action, here are some coaching questions you can ask to identify the block:

Questions to ask about each situation:                    

  1. What missing skill, training, tools or knowledge do you need?
  2. What is out of your control?  What is in your control?
  3. What is holding you back from taking this action?

Missing skill: 

Training or knowledge is an easy fix.  Get them the training, tools and/or information they need to be successful.

Out of their Control: 

An example of this is:  There are three people working on a project, Person A has completed their part, it is now sitting on Person B’s desk and not moving.  Person C cannot do their part until Person B has completed their task.  C has communicated and requested B to do their part and there has been no response.  Person C has also gone to Person B’s supervisor and still no movement.  So, it is out of Person C’s Control.  As the Supervisor of Person C, it is now your job to go to Person B’s Supervisor and discuss.

Psychological Block: 

This is most common!  Most psychological blocks circle back to FEAR.  Here are a couple of Acronym’s for FEAR:

  • False Experiences or Emotions Appearing Real
  • False Evidence Appearing Real
  • Forget Everything And Run

The goal is to move to:  Face Everything And Rise

When dealing with a psychological block here are some questions you can ask to help a person identify, talk and move through their block.  The goal is to peel back the layers, identify the core reason for this psychological block.  In most situations, through asking questions and the person talking through the barriers, they realize, whatever is holding them back really is not such a big deal, not that they talked out loud about their concern.  It is actually quite amazing to guide people through this process and watch them break through their own barriers! 

Ask probing questions:

  1. What is holding you back from taking this action?
  2. What concerns do you have about this (situation, conversation, task, project, etc.)?
  3. What do you want to avoid?
  4. Where do you feel stuck?
  5. What do you dislike the most about this (situation, conversation, task, project, etc.)?
  6. What assumptions are you making about this (situation, conversation, task, project, etc.)?
  7. How did this (situation, conversation, task, project, etc.) make you feel?

Here are some common FEARS most humans deal with:

  • Fear of Imperfection (Perfect is the enemy of good)
  • Fear of the Unknown
  • Fear of Judgment
  • Fear of Making Mistakes
  • Fear of Failure
  • Fear of Responsibility
  • Fear of Change
  • Fear of Success (Imposter syndrome)
  • Fear of Feelings
  • Fear of Finishing
  • Fear of Rejection
  • Fear of Making the Wrong Decision (Paralysis by analysis)
  • Fear of Being Seen As fill in the blank (incompetent, lazy, stupid, weak, not a hard worker, not perfect, etc.)

All of these FEARS hold us back and all of us experience these every now and then; it is a part of our human journey.  The goal is to identify and work through our barriers and help others who we lead and manage break through their barriers with care and respect. 

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.

Marianne Williamson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.