How to Confidently Handle Difficult Coaching Clients and Situations

Jessica Graiser
May 9, 2023
5 min read

How to Confidently Handle Difficult Health Coaching Clients and Situations

Are you a health coach who's ever had a difficult client or situation? You're not alone. Working with challenging clients is a common experience in the coaching industry, and it's essential to know how to handle these situations confidently. In this blog, we'll dive into how to confidently handle difficult coaching clients and situations, so you can avoid negative impacts on your business and feel empowered in your coaching practice.

As you read on, keep in mind that these tips and recommendations come from real-life situations that we in the Flowell community have experienced and discovered first-hand.  

Don't Let Difficult Clients Take Your Energy and Negatively Impact Your Business

It's easy to let difficult clients get under your skin and negatively impact your business. However, as a health coach, it's essential to remember that you're in control of your energy and your business. Don't let a challenging client drain your energy or negatively impact your business. 

Instead, learn how to work with them in a way that's respectful, professional, and productive. When you're working as a health coach, your energy and mindset are essential to the success of your business. Difficult clients can be draining and stressful, and if you allow them to get under your skin, it can negatively impact your overall energy and mindset, which in turn can have a negative impact on your coaching practice.

You have the power to set boundaries, manage your own emotions, and handle difficult clients effectively.

Here are some tips on how to do that:

  1. Set clear boundaries: It's important to set clear boundaries with your clients from the outset of the coaching relationship. Let them know your availability, your coaching style, and any other expectations you have. When you have clear boundaries in place, it's easier to manage difficult clients and ensure that they don't drain your energy or negatively impact your business.
  2. Manage your own emotions: When you're dealing with a difficult client, it's easy to get triggered and feel like you're doing something wrong. However, it's important to remember that difficult clients are a normal part of the coaching process, and that their behavior is not a reflection of your skills or abilities as a coach. Take a deep breath, step back, and try to approach the situation from a place of calm and objectivity.
  3. Be respectful and professional: No matter how challenging a client may be, it's important to treat them with respect and professionalism. Remember that you are the expert, and that you have the skills and knowledge to help them overcome their challenges. Focus on finding solutions rather than dwelling on the problem, and maintain a positive and professional attitude throughout the coaching relationship.
  4. Stay productive: When dealing with a difficult client, it's important to stay focused on your goals and your business. Don't let a challenging client distract you from your overall vision and purpose as a coach. Instead, focus on finding ways to move forward in a productive and positive way.

Don't take it personally–It happens to all of us!

Working with challenging clients can be emotionally triggering. It's common to feel like you're doing something wrong or that the client is attacking you personally. However, it's essential to remember that coaching is about the client, not you. Don't take difficult feedback or behavior personally. Instead, approach it from a place of empathy and seek to understand what's driving the client's behavior. 

Let’s take a look at some strategies that you can use to help you avoid taking difficult client situations personally:

  1. Develop a growth mindset: THIS CANNOT BE EMPHASIZED ENOUGH! A growth mindset is the belief that you can improve your skills and abilities with practice and effort. Adopting a growth mindset can help you approach difficult client situations with a more positive and productive attitude. Instead of feeling discouraged or defensive, focus on what you can learn from the experience and how you can improve your coaching skills.
  2. Practice self-awareness: Self-awareness is the ability to recognize your own emotions, thoughts, and behaviors. By practicing self-awareness, you can learn to recognize when you're feeling triggered by a difficult client situation and take steps to manage your emotions in a healthy way. You might try taking a deep breath, practicing mindfulness or meditation, or taking a short break to recenter yourself.
  3. Seek support: It's essential to have a support system in place as a health coach, especially when working with challenging clients. This might include connecting with other health coaches, seeking out a mentor or supervisor, or joining a professional organization. Having a support system can help you process difficult client situations and get perspective on how to handle them in a healthy and productive way.
  4. Remember your purpose: As a health coach, your purpose is to support and guide your clients towards better health and wellness. When working with challenging clients, it can be helpful to remind yourself of your overall purpose and vision. This can help you stay focused on the bigger picture, even when dealing with difficult situations.

Ask Yourself: Are the Money and Energy Exchange Worth It?

When working with a challenging client, it's essential to take a step back and evaluate whether the money and energy exchange is worth it. If the relationship is causing significant stress or negatively impacting your business, it may be time to respectfully cut ties. Remember, you have the power to choose who you work with and what type of energy you allow into your coaching practice.

Respectfully Cut Ties if a Client No Longer Fits With You

If you've evaluated the situation and determined that a client is no longer a good fit for your coaching practice, it's essential to respectfully cut ties. This may be uncomfortable or challenging, but it's necessary for maintaining the integrity of your coaching practice. Remember, it's better to end a relationship that's not working out than to continue working with a challenging client who's draining your energy and negatively impacting your business.

Check-In to See How to Support the Client

When working with a challenging client, it's essential to take a step back and check-in to see how you can best support them. Are they lacking something? Are they stuck on their own? These questions can help you understand the client's perspective and identify ways to work with them more effectively. Remember, coaching is about supporting the client, not judging or criticizing them.

Coaching is a Relationship, Just Like Dating, It May Not Work Out

Coaching is a relationship, and like any relationship, it may not work out. It's essential to approach coaching from a place of empathy and compassion, and to understand that not every client will be a good fit for your coaching practice. Don't be discouraged if a client relationship doesn't work out. Instead, use the experience to learn and grow as a coach, and to refine your coaching practice to better align with your values and goals. Remember that coaching is a relationship: Coaching is a unique relationship between two individuals, and just like any other relationship, it may not work out for everyone. If you're struggling with a difficult client, try to remember that this is a normal part of the coaching process. It's not a reflection of your skills or abilities as a coach, and it doesn't mean that you're doing something wrong. Instead, it's an opportunity to re-evaluate the relationship and find ways to move forward in a positive and productive way.

Find People Who Have the Same Expectations

When working with clients, it's essential to find people who have the same expectations as you. This can help avoid challenging situations and ensure that you're working with clients who are aligned with your coaching practice. Don't be afraid to set boundaries and communicate your expectations clearly. This can help attract clients who are aligned with your values and goals, and who will be a pleasure to work with.

Remember that difficult client experiences can help build up your confidence: 

While working with difficult clients can be challenging, it can also be an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. By setting boundaries and learning how to handle challenging situations, you'll become more confident in your coaching abilities and better equipped to handle similar situations in the future. So don't shy away from difficult clients - embrace them as an opportunity to learn and grow as a coach.

The Wrap-Up

Handling difficult coaching clients and situations is an inevitable part of the coaching process. But by following these tips and strategies, you can approach these challenges with confidence and compassion, and find ways to turn even the most challenging experiences into opportunities for growth and learning. Remember to check in with your clients, set clear boundaries, and be honest and upfront about your expectations. And if you do encounter a difficult client, know that you have options and that cutting ties may be the best decision for both you and your coaching practice.

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