Is Your Client Testing You?

Are you “bending over backwards” to get or keep your coaching


Too many coaches depend on PEOPLE PLEASING to enroll (or retain)

their clients…

…treating their coaching business like it’s a customer service job.

That makes client enrollment and retention HARDER.

AND it wastes too much time

stealing you away from building a successful coaching business.

And then coaches wonder why they can’t make enough money


If you’re feeling that way, it’s not your fault.

We’ve been taught that “The customer is always right.”

But – Is that true?

Maybe… if your job is in customer service.

As a Coach, it does NOT apply to you.

In fact, it’s dangerous to your business and your clients’ results.

Coaching is NOT a customer service position.

“The customer is always right” mindset…

…sucks coaches into a “People Pleasing Death Spiral”.

People pleasing death spiral

The coach feels the need to…

  • Drop their prices.
  • Do their clients work for them.
  • Spend WAY too long on coaching sessions.

Which causes a lack of clients.

Which further motivates them to…

  • Drop their prices MORE.
  • Do MORE of their clients work for them.
  • Spend EVEN MORE time on coaching sessions.

Which perpetuates their lack of clients EVEN MORE.

Notice the endless spiral here?

Coaches stay in the “People Pleasing Death Spiral” due to FEAR.

(As if their client will become The Hulk if they get angry or upset.)

These coaches think it’s their responsibility to keep the client happy or ELSE.

And the “People Pleasing Death Spiral” causes even more problems:

  1. Your client doesn’t overcome challenges, so they don’t grow.
  2. You end up chasing the client for everything.
  3. Your client doesn’t follow your coaching.
  4. Your client makes unreasonable demands of you.
  5. Coaching becomes just ‘another job’ where you take orders from the boss.
  6. You get paid less than you’re worth.
  7. Your client cancels or no shows coaching sessions.

Coaching is NOT a customer service position.

How do you avoid the People Pleasing Death Spiral?

Pass your client’s “Coach Competency Tests.”

Just like ICF tests you on Core Competencies when you get your


…CLIENTS are also quietly testing you.

Your client is probably NOT testing you consciously.

Your client unconsciously learned these ‘testing’ behaviors to get what they


As a result, they unconsciously attempt to turn you into a “Customer Service

Representative” to get what they want FROM YOU.

Client tests

The problem for your client?

These ways of thinking and behaving are holding them back in coaching with


…and, ultimately, from living the life they want.

Here are a few “Coach Competency Tests” that clients often try on their


1. The 911 “Crisis Client” test

Have you ever coached a “Crisis Client”?

A “Crisis Client” regularly contacts you, expecting you to put your life on hold

to help them.

They’ll claim they’re in a “crisis” (to them, EVERYTHING is a crisis).

If “Crisis Clients” convince you to drop everything for them

…you are teaching them that THEIR time is more important than YOUR time…

…and that you’re always going to rescue them.

Rescuing your client rewards them for finding new crises in their life.

  • A new crisis gets attention.
  • A new crisis gets someone to fix things for them.

Don’t reward “Crisis Clients” with a ‘rescue’ (Behavior that gets rewarded gets


Rescuing your client might feel like a “win” for your client (because they don’t

have to face difficulty)…

…but it disempowers them long-term.


Getting rescued robs them of confidence.

Confidence only comes from facing AND overcoming their own challenges.

Confidence only comes from facing AND overcoming their own challenges.”

IF your client is truly having an emergency….

…they should call the police or paramedics, NOT YOU.

Clients are NOT that fragile.

Clients may not always get what they want…

…but they always get what they NEED.

You might be thinking “Isn’t it harsh to ignore my client when they need


You don’t have to ignore them…

…but let your client handle their own challenges.

Like a baby chick breaking out of their shell….

…your client will need the strength they get from overcoming THIS


…to overcome their NEXT challenge.

There’s nothing wrong with a quick text message for encouragement.

Use your best judgment.

Just don’t fight your client’s battles for them…

…or they will lose the war.

The next “Coach Competency Test” is…

2. The “Wooden Leg” test

When your client faces a challenge, they might say…

  • “I can’t do it, I never went to college.”
  • “You don’t understand, my family doesn’t support me.”
  • “I don’t know how.”
  • “I can’t figure it out because I’m not smart enough.”

…or anything else out of your client’s control.

Just like the ‘man with the wooden leg’ has a perfect excuse not to


…your client uses these ‘wooden legs’ as excuses to get them off the


Don’t fall into that trap.


Your client will want you to fix the next challenge for them again…

…and again

…and again.

That’s the definition of “enabling” your client.

The next “Coaching Competency Test” is…

3. The “No Time” test

  • “I don’t have time.”
  • “I decided something else was a higher priority.”
  • “Well I HAVE to take care of ‘such-and-such’ don’t I?”
  • “I have too much on my plate.”

We are ALL busy.

Yet we ALL waste time.

The “no time” test is your client trying to convince you…

…that doing what’s necessary is “unreasonable.”

Another gambit to get off the hook.

Remind your “no time” client that we all have the SAME AMOUNT of time.

Your client has time for the things that are MOST important to them.

If this “thing” IS important enough to your client…

…you can help them to use more of their time on that priority.

Bottom line?

TIME is never an excuse.

TIME is never an excuse.

The next coach competency test that some clients will try is…

4. The “Give Me All The Answers” test

A client ran the “Give Me All The Answers” test on me recently.

They asked me what to do to solve a common problem.

So I brainstormed some options with them.

Then I recommended a book for more answers.

They agreed to read the book by the next session.

However, on the next coaching session, guess what?

They hadn’t even purchased the book yet!

Instead, they wanted me to waste the whole session with ME giving them a

verbal book report.

I declined.


If my client didn’t value the information enough to read the book


…what are the odds they would apply what they’ve learned?

Almost ZERO.

My client had NO OWNERSHIP of the book’s ideas.

There’s nothing wrong with sharing ideas from books, seminars, etc.

But, at some point, your client needs to value the answers enough to pursue

them on their own

…without YOU dragging them forward.

If they don’t care enough to ‘read the book’, that’s ok, it’s THEIR life.

But, if your client commits to it….

…hold them accountable, and don’t spoon feed the book to them.

Finally, there’s…

5. The “Amuse The Queen” test

This test happens when a client asks you for ways to produce a result.

You give them some options.

But they decline all your ideas.

Since you failed to provide an option they want

…they ask you for MORE options.

Soon, you find yourself on a hamster wheel

…trying to give your client THE PERFECT OPTION.

It’s as if your client is a bored King or Queen

They sit on their throne

…expecting YOU to continue to offer gifts until they are satisfied.

But your client is NOT royalty.

You are NOT a “Peasant”, existing only to satisfy them.

Clients use this test to see if you’ll accept responsibility to find the right option.

That way, if they don’t find ‘the perfect answer’…

…they can blame YOU.

Give the responsibility for ‘finding the answer’ back to your client (where

it belongs).

Coaching is NOT a customer service position.

As a competent coach, you know that your client is 100% responsible for the

results they produce.

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(NOTE: If you’ve been waiting to start your coaching business, or were wondering if you can do it profitably, then you need to watch this video. In the video, I’ll explain how to How to Build a Profitable Coaching Business in 30 Days. Click HERE now to watch the video.)

The more often you pass these 5 “coach competency


…by recognizing them as opportunities for your clients to “grow”, do their own

“homework”, etc….

…the less often clients will use these tests on you.

Pass these tests by:

In fact, my coach, (Dean of Master Coach University) Jeffrey Sooey…

…is passing his “coach competency test” from me as I write this.

I committed to having this post done by a deadline.

I kept pushing the deadline back (I find writing a tad challenging)…

…BUT, I KNOW Jeff.

Jeff is NOT going to write this post FOR me.

Jeff WILL hold me accountable to the deadline I committed to.

Jeff knows that I’m 100% capable of writing the post BY MYSELF.

Jeff isn’t going to “rescue me” from writing this.

So this post will be on time.

I could “bail out” on writing this post to you.

I have free will.

But I’m not going to.

I am committed to follow through on my commitments.

And, I will finish it myself, because Jeff knows…

..and I know…

(and now YOU know)

….that coaching is NOT a customer service position.

Until then, remember:

In coaching, the customer isn’t always right.

The 7 consequences of the “People Pleasing Death Spiral”.

The 5 “Coach Competency Tests” clients might try on you:

  • The 911 “Crisis Client” test
  • The “Wooden Leg” test
  • The “No Time” test
  • The “Give Me All The Answers” test
  • The “Amuse The Queen” test

Pass these tests by:

  • Pointing them out.
  • Avoiding ‘enabling’ your client.
  • Holding your client responsible.

Don’t bend over backwards just to get or keep a client.

Take the high road…

…and your clients will follow.

Kristoffer “No Pleasing” Thompson

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