Three Types of Clients in Professional Coaching

Three Types of Clients in Professional Coaching

Talyaa Vardar, MA, FCPC, MCC
Talyaa Vardar, MA, FCPC, MCC
Executive Coach, Psychologist & Art Therapist

If you finished your ICF professional coaching certification program recently, working towards building your hours while you coach people, you wonder why some of your coaching relationships don’t work while others work well?

As an ICF certified professional coach, self-reflection after each coaching session as well as about your coaching relationship should become a regular habit to improve your skills and your awareness about your skill development. However, other than that you should also realize that not everybody might be coachable.

Yes, not everybody is coachable.

How To Find Out If Someone Is Coachable?

So, when you have a new coaching client the first question you need to ask yourself: “Is this person coachable?”. If you have enough rapport, you can even ask this question to your client directly.

In a professional coaching relationship, one factor that has a direct impact on coaching relationship success is the “commitment” of the client. 

  1. Is this person sufficiently determined to work on the coaching outcome?
  2. Is this person sufficiently motivated to reach the coaching outcome?

In my experience as a certified coach for many years now, there are typically three types of clients in a professional coaching relationship:

  1. Apathetic
  2. Complainer
  3. Performer

Type 1: Some clients may be APATHETIC 

Apathetic coaching clients are people who are not interested in changing things. Maybe they are acting this way because of their beliefs or a condition they are against. Maybe they are only “curious”. Maybe they only talk to you because they are forced to. (Example: their company forced their participation in coaching) 

Maybe they might have heard or come to you through the reference of a friend. Maybe this person does not think there is a coaching goal to be reached or is not aware of that necessity yet.

With apathetic clients, there is no intention to change things around at the moment of the relationship. Another possibility might be that there isn’t enough chemistry and trust built between coach and client.

As a professional coach you should always:

  • Look for strong points, focus on positive points.
  • Offer appreciation of their qualities that you observe.
  • Question their tendencies when it comes to responsibility.
  • Pay attention to the language he/she uses. Look at the extent he/she lays claims to his/her life, his/her actions.

Type 2: Some clients may act like COMPLAINERS:

A complainer is a person who complains and tries to reach a goal by changing things but does not take the steps necessary to reach their goals. They believe that the goals are impossible or very hard to reach. Usually, either their self-awareness is not there yet or they are not ready to dedicate themselves to creating change.

The coach’s answer to the complainer:

  • Bring out new evidence that shows they can achieve the goals and proves them wrong.
  • Invite them to explore one possibility, then the next one … Eventually, list these new possibilities and discover them together.
  • Give them observation homework.
  • This group has a high likelihood of getting stuck when it comes to coping with external conditions and people. Focus on coaching them on their life coping skills.
  • Chunk the goals and challenges down into manageable sizes to make them easier to achieve.

Type 3: Some clients are PERFORMERS:

This group is creative, ready, and willing to do something to reach their desired goal.

The coach’s answer:

  • Coach them on what is truly important to them about the meaning of change. 
  • Support them to reinforce the link between body-mind connection.
  • Help them to explore their habitual thoughts and feelings.
  • Support and encourage them to celebrate their wins and successes.

As an ICF certified professional coach it is useful that you know about these three client types. Beware that most of the time the coaching relationship with apathetic clients will not continue.

However, there is a high chance that complaining clients might turn into performers if you set the relationship right from the very beginning. Start with building trust and chemistry.

If you are looking to get yourself certified as an ICF Certified Coach, head over to our program page to find our latest programs for less than 2000 CAD.

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