Like any good relationship, that between a coach and their client is built on trust and client communication. But like any business sometimes a potential client just isn’t the right fit.

As a coach is only as good as their reputation and results, it’s imperative for both the client and you, the coach, to clearly understand when to walk away. So, here are four signs a client may not be right for you, and what to do when you need to turn someone away.

The walls are up

The key to great coaching is to have all the information at hand. That means a client has to be candid about where they are and where they want to go. Part of this may mean they have to open the book to reveal exactly what’s going on inside a business and take the tough step of holding up a mirror to the operations within it.

If you feel a client is cagey about revealing their operations or they may not even have been the instigator of coaching in the first place, then it might be time to assess where the relationship will likely go.

The solution: The best thing you can do at this point is to outline your services and clearly note the process involved. Then, with the understanding of the commitment and work involved, give them time to think about whether coaching is for them.

The personalities aren’t compatible

It’s just a fact of life that one person can’t be all things to all people and occasionally you just get a sense that you and another won’t see eye to eye. In a relationship where trust and shared goals are essential, that may mean passing on a client.

The solution: Refer them to another coach who may be a better fit for their personality and needs.

They’re hesitant to take your advice

As they say “you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink”. There’s a lot of give and take between any coach and client, and the likelihood is this will involve you imparting carefully crafted advice. The truth is, it’s hard for people to change habits and often they will display discomfort in doing so. But if that advice falls on deaf ears then you have a choice of options.

The solution:

  • Ask them to trial your methods for a set period to see if things improve, setting measurable outcomes to gauge the results.
  • Give them time to consider your advice.
  • Refer them to another coach if they are uncomfortable with the direction you choose to take.

The brief is outside your scope

Only the foolhardy get in above their head and in coaching this can be a rooky mistake. If you genuinely feel you do not have the right skills to suit a specific client, it’s in your interest and theirs to cut the relationship short. Chances are they’ll come back to you later when the time and circumstances are right.

The solution

Use your network to find the exact person to suit their needs, whether it’s a specialist in marketing, a guru at branding or an accountant who knows figures inside out. Part of your business plan should include finding and connecting with these people to draw on when required. And if you’re worried about your business image, well the right network will give as much as it receives.