Coaching Difficult Clients: 4 Powerful Tips

Make coaching difficult clients easier

coaching difficult clients
Difficult client?

If you stay in the coaching business long enough, you are eventually going to run into what industry professionals call “problem clients.” These are clients that are difficult to deal with for whatever reason, and they often have to be handled with kid gloves. So what makes coaching difficult clients easier?

The behavior itself varies, and can run the gamut from anger to inappropriate comments or touching. You need to develop a strategy for dealing with these problem clients and see if you can change their behavior, and if not, your strategy should include a plan for parting ways with them.

1. Be committed to their success

You want your clients to succeed but not at all costs. If you invest too much of yourself in their success, and they fall short, don’t take it personally. Don’t allow the outcome of a particular coaching project make you feel emotional or responsible. Coaching relationships are important but you need to leave a professional gap, a distance to prevent you from getting too close personally. After all, you will need to let go at some stage.

2. Watch out for warning signs:

Look for warning signs with difficult coaching clients
Warning Signs

There are often warning signs that you can look out for when you are working with clients to spot a problem long before it happens. Of course, this does take some experience so you may still have some problem clients at first that sneak up on you,  but be prepared to learn from each experience and look for those warning signs in future clients so that you can pre-empt any problems.Prevention is better than cure in some cases.

3. When your energy is waning..

If you have a client that is just draining you of your energy and enthusiasm every time you talk to them, even if they aren’t doing it intentionally, you may want to consider releasing them. If you have a client that is making you feel drained after a session, it could easily overflow and affect your personal life, and your relationship with your other clients.

4. Say what you need to say when coaching difficult clients

let your yes be yes and your no be no
Yes! No!

Let your ‘yes’ mean ‘yes’ and your ‘no’ mean ‘no’. Make sure that you are saying what you need to say and not being indirect or vague. Make sure that your client understands you, and that you have laid down firm boundaries and ground rules. Don’t be afraid to be direct with clients who start to make excuses for not responding to your coaching questions. In addition, if you have a client that you no longer think is a good fit for your coaching, speak up and tell them rather than letting it continue, because you’re not doing either of you any favours.

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