As a coach, you’re probably focused on finding clients so that you can grow your business.
But once you get your first few coaching clients, you’re only part of the way there. You now need to build a relationship with those clients so that they trust you enough to let you help them.
The coaching relationship with your clients is everything! Without it, you don’t really have a coaching business.
Let’s explore the nine most important traits found in every successful coaching relationship.
9 Key Traits for a Thriving Coaching Relationship with Your Clients
First and foremost, a coach needs to be capable of practicing empathy with their clients in each of their coaching sessions.
This doesn’t mean you have to be an empath who feels what their clients feel down to their core. But it is important to open your heart to them when building coaching relationships.
Know that it’s not easy for everyone to reach out for help. Perhaps it’s the very first time they’ve undertaken a process like this. Make space in your heart to feel the pain of the struggles they’re going through. Hold it within yourself, and try to feel what it’s like to be in their shoes.
Empathy helps coaches get on the same page as their clients to fully hear what they’re saying – and detect the feelings behind what they’re saying.
If this doesn’t come easy to you, try practicing with people who are already in your life. The next time you have a conversation with someone you’re close to, pause and fully hear what they’re saying. Hold space for what they’re feeling at that moment. Simply let yourself have those feelings.
Any coaching relationship requires transparency and honesty to work in the long term.
When you’re starting the coaching relationship and ask them discovery questions, they need to be open to fully hearing your questions and answering with honesty. If they want you to help them, they need to be willing to put their heart on the table.
But honesty is just as important for you, too. Your clients won’t achieve meaningful transformations if you hold back on the truth.
And sometimes, that truth might be hard for you to spit out.
Yes, this means that you may need to give your clients some tough love once in a while. But they’re paying you to be honest with them and provide them with the support they need to achieve their goals. You won’t be able to do that if you’re not honest with them.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you have to be rude when telling your clients the hard truth. Every coach has their own unique coaching style. For instance, if your clients come to you for your gentle nature, it would probably feel alienating for them to hear you scream “bullshit” at them.
On the other hand, some clients look for coaches who have this rougher, more upfront approach. Just stick to the coaching style you prefer and make sure you stay consistent.
Honesty is also important when being upfront about your expectations from the client. It’s also important to be fully transparent about the coaching session packages you’re selling and the coaching contract you ask them to sign.
Do you stick to your moral and ethical principles and values? That’s what integrity is all about. And it’s paramount to growing healthy coaching relationships.
Coaching with integrity should entail doing what’s right for your clients. For instance, you shouldn’t automatically try to sell your clients on one of your high-end coaching packages just because you want to increase your revenue this month.
Coaching with integrity instead means that you’ll guide your clients toward the type of support they need the most to succeed at this time in their life.
And if that means you feel they’re not a right fit for you and your coaching style, then let them know. Not every client will be right for you, and you won’t need to dive deeper with everyone.
Integrity in coaching relationships also means that you keep your word. Don’t promise something to a client if you’re not 100% certain you can fulfill that promise.
4. Commitment (on both ends)
For a coaching relationship to flourish and for both parties to achieve greater success, both parties need to be fully committed to the relationship.
On the client’s end, this means they’re ready to take your guidance and turn it into action. It also means they’re committed to finally making the change they’ve always wanted to make instead of only planning around it.
With you by their side, they’ll have the plan of action to make the right changes, but they need to bring the commitment to the table.
On your end, commitment to a client means you’re ready to see this relationship through. It may require a lot of your (theoretical or literal) sweat and tears to support a client on their journey.
But your client is counting on you to see it through. Make sure you’re ready to keep going, even when it gets difficult.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should never fire a coaching client. Sometimes it’s just not a right fit. But make sure that if you fire a coaching client, it’s for the right reasons – and not just because it suddenly became a little more challenging to help them achieve their goals.
Remember to implement self-care in your routine so that you can maintain good mental health and provide effective coaching despite these challenges.
When you say you’ll do something, will you do it? Do you show up on time for your clients’ sessions? Do you keep your clients’ information private and secure?
Trustworthiness is paramount to any relationship, but it’s especially important for a coaching relationship. If your client needs to open their heart to you with honesty, they need to be able to trust that your sessions are a safe place for them to express themselves without judgment.
They also need to trust that you have their best interests at heart and that your coaching can help them. Without this trust, your coaching will be futile.
From the very beginning of your relationship with any client, make sure you display trustworthiness on all fronts, no matter what. This also includes being fully present in your coaching sessions so your client knows they can always rely on you to listen.
6. Dedication to the time
Dedication sounds a bit similar to commitment, but the two are slightly different. Whereas commitment means both you and your client are committed to seeing things through, dedication means both of you are willing to set the time aside to make this relationship work.
For instance, is your coaching client constantly canceling their sessions and rescheduling for another time? Perhaps they lack the dedication needed to make the coaching relationship work. If this is happening, consider having an open and honest conversation about it.
On the other hand, you also need to dedicate the time it takes to support your clients. This means you need to know your limit – if you know you won’t be able to provide the attention your clients need when you take on more than four clients at once, then don’t take on a fifth client.
Dedicate your resources to your paying clients, otherwise, why should they dedicate their time to you?
You still need to set healthy boundaries, though. As you get more experience with your clients, you’ll start to know how much you can take on without burning yourself out.
Your client may have the exact background and goals you look for in a client, and you may have the exact set of skills and experience they’re looking for in a coach. But that alone doesn’t create chemistry.
Chemistry is difficult to explain. It’s just something that you can feel with other people. But if you and your coaching clients don’t have it, it will be difficult to build a thriving relationship.
Usually, you’ll be able to get a feel for chemistry when you hop on your first discovery session with a potential client. So make sure only to send them a proposal to work with you if you feel some chemistry there.
In order for you to coach a client and build a healthy relationship with them, they need to have – you guessed it – coachability.
Coachability is a combination of several things, including:
- An ability to listen to and receive feedback
- The mindset required to integrate feedback to drive growth
- The flexibility to change oneself and try new things
If a client wants you to fix them, but they’re stuck in their ways and constantly question your methods, they may simply not be ready to be coached.
Keep in mind that coachability isn’t a skill. Instead, it’s a mental attitude toward coaching. If you can reframe this attitude for uncoachable clients, you can help them get ready for coaching. But others just won’t be open to the change at all. If this happens, there’s nothing much you can do except to let them go and come back ready when they’re ready for the coaching experience.
Last but not least, a coaching relationship needs accountability.
Accountability is more than doing what you set out to do. It’s also taking responsibility for your work and your life.
You need to hold yourself accountable and do right by your coaching clients. But at the same time, your coaching clients need to hold themselves accountable for their own results.
Clients who don’t take accountability for their own actions won’t be a fit for any coach because they’ll often look for someone to blame when they can’t reach their goals.
Although accountability is the client’s responsibility, it’s partly your job to teach them new things about accountability. Not everyone realizes they have this power within themselves. Help them get there, and your coaching relationship will only flourish as a result.
Build a Long-lasting Coach Client Relationship
A healthy, long-lasting coaching relationship with your clients is key to not only growing your business but also helping your clients get where they want to be. As your successful coaching relationship grows, you’ll be more in tune with each other and will be able to communicate more seamlessly.
One way to simplify communication between you and your coaching clients is to implement an all-in-one coaching software like Paperbell. You no longer need to dig through your email for notes or email your clients back and forth to figure out a time that works for their coaching session.
Try it for free today to test out how Paperbell can simplify your coaching business!