How to Handle Terrible Coaching Clients: Recognizing When You Can and Can't Help
This is a guest post by Mary Grace. Want to contribute? Check out the 2017 publishing calendar.
When a client starts failing it can be devastating. Maybe the results weren’t what was expected after both of you worked so hard toward their success or it’s possible you couldn’t convince them to do the work in order to reach that success.
If you are working with a failing client or a frustrating one that doesn’t seem able to put in the work without a fight, it may be time to re-evaluate. Is this an opportunity for triumph or trouble?
It’s a time to re-evaluate their path, refocus goals and look at your relationship with their progress.
There are certain clients who can react with anger when their goals fail or their plans fall apart. Knowing how to react then can make the difference between moving forward and staying behind. A failing client can move forward, but despite your efforts, some need to be dropped.
When to keep a terrible client
Most coaches have encountered a terrible (or very difficult) client at some point in their coaching career. Knowing which clients to let go and which ones to keep is part of creating a viable coaching business. If your client is holding you back, interrupting your work or keeping you from excelling, drop them like a bad middle school boyfriend. If your client doesn’t complete tasks assigned to them through your coaching, work towards their goal or seem interested in the coaching process at all, they may not be ready to be helped and therefore may need to be dropped.
On the other hand, some of those troublesome clients can still be successful if they respond well to boundaries and goals. If they only need a quick change, are making improvements or if it’s genuinely your fault, then keeping them can be worthwhile. It’s about forward momentum. Can they move forward?
Life coaching is hard. You’re guiding your clients through both the tough times and cheering them on through the successful days. If someone is willing to work with you, continues payment and doesn’t affect your personal life or the lives of your other clients, work with them. It’s all about becoming better and learning.
Why you should sometimes keep terrible clients
Getting repeat customers is really important as a reliable source of income, but the real soul of of your business is helping your clients. Even if someone sucks and is difficult to deal with at times, but is moving forward, keep them. It’s all about getting better.
Maintaining these terrible clients means that they know that you care about them. After all, you are an amazing coach who cares for your clients. One way to get repeat customers is to care for your clients. Even those who take advice like a lead block takes up water need your advice; that’s why they are there.
How to help clients bounce back from failure
Failure is rough. If a client is not finding success in their life or career or just not meeting their goals they might need a change of pace. Knuckling down and pushing forward is a great way to move. But, sometimes your client needs a change of pace to invigorate their mood and make them a better competitor in their life or career. Little changes like exercise, hobbies or a vacation can make a world of difference for mood, health and stress. Working on soft factors might be a good way to take them out of the situation for a moment while reevaluating.
Think outside the box when coaching terrible clients
Taking your meetings to the gym can be a great way to stabilize a troubled client who is stuck in a grindstone time of life. It relieves frustrations, alleviates stress and will make them feel like they have accomplished something. there are a ton of ways to make their exercise unique. Getting your client to the gym, moving and working out their stress in a positive, effective way is a really great idea for someone who feels stuck or like things aren’t moving quick enough for them. It can also work for anyone who is displacing their aggression onto you. Offering an outlet will help keep up effective and professional communication that aligns everyone for success.
For the tight-wound client who doesn’t know where to go or might be so inside their own head that they just can’t move forward in a productive manner, a vacation might be needed. Removing them from the environment that is not successful and giving them time to escape is important. It can even be an economical location close by, like a forest, or national park, where they can hike, maybe have limited electronic access or just see something beautiful that will release their frustrations with the world.
If a client is frustrated with the lack of immediate results, isn’t seeing the success that they hoped for, getting them out of that negative headspace can improve both of your success. There are times when it’s not the headspace, it’s the client. Those are times to let them go.
When to let a client go
There are certain people who you should not work with and knowing when to let them go can be tough. Toxic clients can hurt your life, cut into the success of other clients, refuse to pay or refuse to work with you. A poison client who is unhappy with your work or who is causing undue stress can spread their negativity like a virus.
To find out if you have one of these bad (totally scrapable) clients, take the time to evaluate why you are leaving them behind. Are they argumentative? Unwilling to try? Abusive?
Working with a coach can bring up all sorts of emotions within the client, but their behaviour shouldn’t be abusive or cause you excessive stress.
It’s also important to remember that sometimes personalities clash. If you and your client just can’t seem to get onto the same page, it is likely that you are just not a good fit for each other.
Why some clients fail
Find out why this client is unsuccessful. Are they unsuccessful because you have been unable to help them? Have they refused to apply your advice to their life? Or do they have unrealistic expectations of what you can do for them? An unsuccessful client can become successful if they are willing to work with you.
If your client is unsuccessful because they refuse to apply your advice, dropping a client could leave you with more time for another client who actually needs you.
If this client affects your relationship with your other clients, that is a huge sign they need to be cut out of your client list. This includes them leaving terrible reviews online or bursting in on other’s time. If they don’t want to match your current rates and you're having trouble raising your rates, consider a temporary suspension. They might just not realize the amazing value you are offering them through your coaching services.
If a client is willing to work with you, keeping them can help them succeed in life. That’s one of the biggest reasons you should keep an unsuccessful or unhappy client. But if you're dealing with a client from hell, who takes up your time, money, whom you can’t help improve - ditch them. Ditch them now.
About Mary Grace
Mary Grace is based out to beautiful Boise, Idaho and loves hiking, skiing, and examining human interactions. Comment down below or tweet her anytime.
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