I’m going to take a guess here and say you’re generous…
To a fault.
I know this because coaching attracts heart-centered givers.
You love serving your clients.
And you love giving them your time, your expertise, your energy and your attention.
But if you don’t have healthy boundaries with clients in place, all that giving can turn against you in an instant.
Weak boundaries with clients are more than just a mild problem.
They can shake your confidence, ruin your credibility, and break your client’s trust.
Here are 3 warning signs that you’ve crossed the line and entered “Weak Boundaries With Clients Territory.”
Warning Sign #1: You’re Always Waiting
Do you have clients who are chronically late to your coaching sessions?
They keep you waiting and waiting….
When they finally turn up, they have a “great” excuse all lined up…
“Sorry, I had to go the dentist.”
“Sorry, I had to take my dog to the vet.”
“Sorry, I didn’t notice the time.”
And on and on.
If your client is late once or even twice, it’s probably just an unforeseen circumstance that got in the way.
But when the same client shows up late – or postpones – your sessions again and again…
It’s not about them anymore, it’s about you.
Set things straight. Tell your client you won’t tolerate lateness more than once or twice at most.
Let them know – early on – that your policy is to wait not more than a minute or two before you leave.
If your client has signed on for a series of sessions, allow only a couple of postponements. More than that and they’ll have to forfeit the session.
This may seem harsh and unfair but it’s not.
A client who isn’t committed to turning up at the right time for a coaching session isn’t committed to doing much else.
Clients like these will waste both your time and their own.
It’s best to draw clear lines that show you’re serious about your work even if they are not.
This will help you focus your time and energy on dedicated clients who are ready to receive your help and guidance to create real transformations in their lives.
Warning Sign #2: You Coach For Free
It’s an unfortunate fact but it’s true…
There are people out there who sign up for coaching packages, sessions or programs and don’t pay.
This is a common challenge that every coach encounters, sooner or later.
When you have a client who does not or cannot pay, you must do the hard thing and let them go.
I know coaches who allow clients to continue with sessions even when they miss payments.
This is wrong and dangerous.
When you give your client the idea that it’s okay not to pay, you’re essentially giving your expertise away for free.
This will create all sorts of problems.
For one thing, you’ll be struggle to stay above the poverty line.
You love your clients, yes but you need to eat and pay the rent. You can’t live on air and love alone.
Another major problem that can come from clients who don’t pay?
They won’t value your time.
They won’t take your advice or implement your ideas…
And they won’t get the results they’re looking.
This will damage your reputation as a coach.
Save yourself the trouble and draw the line from the get go. Let your client know that you will stop all coaching sessions if you don’t receive payment.
If you want, allow some flexibility for late payments.
But keep this to just a day or two.
Anything longer than that and it’s time to say adios.
Warning Sign #3: You Don’t Have Time to Breathe
If all you do is coach, coach and coach some more…
If you’re feeling exhausted, burned out and drained…
If you have no time for a healthy, happy personal life…
It’s time to take a hard, honest look at your boundaries with clients.
Do you have clients who message, call or email you with “urgent” issues at all hours of the day and night?
Do you have clients who keep pushing your sessions past the agreed end time?
Do you have clients who ask for free coaching advice or want to “pick your brain” outside coaching sessions?
If your answer is yes to any one of these – or all three- then it’s time to pull the brakes and take stock.
Set clear rules for your clients. Tell them you’ll take their calls and messages only during office hours or during specific days and times in the week.
Then stick to these rules.
Ignore messages, emails and phone calls that come through outside the times you’ve set.
This may seem severe but it’s a healthy way to create good boundaries with clients. Your clients will soon learn you’re happy to help them when they respect your time.
You can’t coach at your highest level when you’re tired and pulled in different directions and your clients won’t get your best work.
This isn’t fair to you or to them.
Never fall into the trap of thinking you will lose or disappoint clients when you have boundaries in place.
The opposite is true.
Boundaries are the line between ordinary and extraordinary coaching.
Healthy boundaries will help you gain respect, and credibility as you create a powerful coach-client connection.
And that’s when both you and your clients can get the most out of the coaching relationship.