What I learned from a sexologist about supporting others

If you manage, coach or counsel others – or you’re interested in getting support from a professional, this article may help you get quality support.


Many years ago (writes Chris Payne) I came across a little story which had a profound impact on the way I work with clients to help them resolve their challenges in life.

Robert Chartham was a well-known sexologist in the UK. It is said that he wrote up to 4,000 replies a year to reader questions in an adult magazine called Forum.

One day a married couple came to see him as they were having trouble conceiving. They had been to see other doctors and had had all the tests, and both of them should have been able to have children: the woman had been deemed fit and able to conceive, and the man’s sperm count was healthy. They told all the experts that they were having sex regularly, and using temperature charts to ensure that they were having sex at the right time during the woman’s cycle.

So coming to see Robert was a last resort.

Robert was in the role that any caring professional is placed in when dealing with a client.

A role which you play yourself many times with your partner, friends, colleagues, and so on when they present an issue to you and ask for your support.

Imagine you were in Robert’s shoes.

What would you do with this couple?

You could listen for an hour or more to their frustration through the tears and offer a shoulder to cry on, and offer some encouraging words such as to keep trying. You might tell them that having children isn’t the most important thing in the world, perhaps to get on and enjoy life – and they would pay you their money and walk away feeling a little better.

Or you could teach them skills like meditation or relaxation exercises which have been shown to increase the chances of conceiving for many couples as stress can have an impact on fertility. You could encourage them to go to the gym regularly to get their bodies in peak condition – and you might even suggest certain routines to follow, and warn them off other ones.

In addition, you might encourage them to eat more fresh, organic food, avoid processed foods laden with additives, drink more water, drink less alcohol or caffeine-laced drinks, and on and on. Again, this couple would pay you your fee and they would walk away with a certain degree of satisfaction because they now have a new set of strategies to follow.

Robert didn’t do either of these.

He asked them one question.

And by asking that one question, everything changed.

From what they told him, Robert had an immediate solution which meant that, after the couple left his office, the woman conceived within 3 months and gave birth to a healthy baby.

And the couple were delighted.

They left his office within 15 minutes – long before their full time allocation was up.

So what was the question Robert asked the couple?!


Don’t cheat yourself by looking at the answer right now as you may miss the real impact of this story and you’ll go on with your day and perhaps forget it.

So stop!

Put yourself in Robert’s shoes. Think about the couple’s situation. Relax. Take your time.

Re-read the facts of the case again.

What question or questions could you ask them?

And the question isn’t, “How often are you having sex?” or “When are you having sex?”, because the couple have been asked that by every expert they went to see.

Have you done that?


I reveal the question and the couple’s answer below. Please note that this content contains mentions of body parts and details of sexual reproduction which may offend certain people – and is not suitable for minors. (In other words, if you’re under the age of 12, please show this page to a parent or guardian before reading it.)

Click here to reveal the question and the couple’s answer.

Reveal the question / Hide the question [slide] Here’s the question…

How do you have sex?”

The man of the couple was taken aback. He was embarrassed. “Well, like everyone else.”

Robert gently urged him to elaborate, and the man stumbled through his explanation, casting sideways looks at his wife. He said, that he and his wife got naked and he got on top of his wife. She closed her thighs together and he pushed his penis between her thighs and then thrusted until he ejaculated on the entrance to her vagina. The man mistakenly thought that semen landing on the entrance would impregnate his wife.

Through further questioning, Robert found out from the man that when he was 12 he fooled around with a male friend who showed him the ‘thighs together and thrust’ technique, so that’s what they both did until they moved on and got interested in girls. When he started dating the lady who was eventually to become his wife, she was equally ignorant of how you have sexual intercourse as the subject was never discussed with her mother or her friends.

Robert taught the couple the correct way to have sex, which was eye-opening for them. They left his office with a solution which quickly led to the wife conceiving.

[And I am sure you would agree with me that it would be almost impossible for a problem like this to happen today with sex education lessons in schools and much readier access to ‘leaving nothing to the imagination’ adult entertainment.]

“How do you have sex?” It’s such a simple and obvious question, isn’t it? Come on!

But here’s the thing… None of the other experts the couple went to see ever asked that question. Not one of them. [/slide] [End of hide/reveal text]

Why don’t experts always ask the smartest questions?

Heck, why don’t we, in our daily lives, ask smart questions…

when our colleagues are overwhelmed and unable to cope

when our children have problems at school

when our partner has significant challenges in their life

Sometimes we get very busy. We rush. We jump to conclusions. We jump in with suggestions.

We are too left brain, using logic rather than tapping into our intuition. We’re in fight or flight survival. We’re in ‘Ready Fire Aim’ mode.

We have a lot on our mind…

we have noisy mind chatter

we may be hungry as we haven’t stopped all day to have a bite of lunch

we’re self conscious of the smell of our sweat or of our breath, of the way we look, of the crumples in our clothes

we have feelings of guilt about past times when we didn’t handle a situation well

we feel regret about being a bit too sharp with someone earlier in the day

…and thousands of other small things.

We don’t stop for long enough to really listen and answer from a place of compassion and wisdom.

However Robert did stop.

He breathed.

He took his time.

He thought.

He trusted himself.

He appreciated himself.

He valued himself and his skills.

He listened to the small voice of his inner mind: his subconscious, his intuition, the quiet voice of experience.

He was fearless about asking a silly, obvious question that could have been laughed at, not wishing to cause the couple to be embarrassed as they stumbled through an explanation of a basic biological process that has been done often wordlessly billions of time throughout history.

I’ve thought about this story – and many, many others like it, over the last 2 decades working with people to help them get the very most out of their lives.

Over those 20 years I’ve studied – like a man possessed at times, and to the point where people have teased me about my intensity or even been irritated by it – as I reached points in my life where I was stuck and didn’t have all the answers: times of financial challenge; times of problems in relationships; times where a client couldn’t or wouldn’t get out of their stuckness…

…until I found solutions which gave me new strategies, approaches and habits which I could integrate into my life and share with others – including some very smart ‘obvious’ and ‘non-obvious’ questions which would enable clients to get delightfully satisfying results in one or a few telephone or internet video sessions.

What you will find on this site is some of the fruits of that work in the form of articles like this, ebooks, mp3 recordings, teleseminars, and the one-on-one coaching I do. All my paid products come with a money-back guarantee or even a better-than-money-back guarantee.

Here are some next steps for you. Take as many or as few as you want…

  • sign up to get my free ebooks and mp3 recordings, access to some hidden articles (listed here), and to get motivating and uplifting articles and stories in your email inbox from time to time via my Beyond Challenges email newsletter
  • post a comment or question below
  • phone me or email me if you want to book a session with me
  • tell your friends to visit this page – or better still, send them the first part of this story in an email (by clicking here) so they can read the couple’s story, and click a link to get to this page to find the answer
  • read more on this site (this page tells you more about me)

And also…

  • complete my quick questionnaire to find out how grounded and centred you are. You can even find out how you compare with other people who have completed this questionnaire – and a few simple ways for you to get into what I call The Living Present so your life is more vibrant and you’re able to support others far better.

Bloggers: please don’t lift this story complete: by all means post the first part of the story, or your version of it, and link to this site for the answer. Thank you.