If you are in the business of working with human beings, no matter how amazing you are, a moment will come when a client will get pissed off at you, judgmental of you, or overly-demanding.
It can at first feel really icky. You can feel like you’re not doing a good enough job, like you need to give more and more, and like other professionals are doing a much better job than you. You can also find that you don’t know what to do next with the client.
When you encounter a client who is being Judgmental and demanding in this way, it might sound something like this (maybe not these exact words, but this is at the core of what they say or write to you):
You’re not doing it good enough
You’re not giving me enough
I’m not getting what I deserve here
The things you’re doing aren’t working for me, and you should know better!
I don’t like this part and this part and this part of your program
You’re not meeting my needs
You need to change “this” right away
So what do you do when this happens?
1) Manage Your Own Triggers so you can Respect Yourself & Your Client:
Usually the first thing that happens for a coach or practitioner when their client goes into Criticism, Anger, Judgment or Demands is for the coach to internally freak out, to feel really terrible about themselves and their performance, or to feel out of control, or to get angry back at the client.
None of the internal freak-out is going to be of service to you to shift your client out of their resistance and into a more open place. So the very first thing you want to do when you encounter The Judge or The Demanding One in a client, is to work on your own triggers.
Working on your own triggers means really unpacking your own beliefs around anger, around over-giving, around boundaries, and around feeling like you’re enough. This is an important element of the work I do when I train coaches because you can have the best coaching skills in the world, but if you’re triggered or not bringing aligned ‘energetics” into your coaching relationships and conversations, you’re not really able to help your clients.
2) Objectively Assess if You’ve Missed the Mark in Your Deliverables:
When a client shows up as demanding or faulting you for something you haven’t done for them, 9 times out of 10, it has absolutely NOTHING to do with what you’ve delivered or how you’ve shown up. Chances are you’ve really performed well and given what you’ve promised (more on what to do in that case in a moment).
But that being said, there is always the outside chance that you have misstepped in a considerable way, not delivered on a promise, or not met a legitimate need.
This is why it’s really important to objectively hear your client’s concern (or anger, or demand), assess if there is something you’ve missed, and if you have, problem solve on how to right the wrong or provide for the need.
Usually, there is a very simple solution…if, and only if….you’re willing to objectively assess AND ALSO you’ve got your triggers in check. If you haven’t managed your triggers and try to assess, there is absolutely no way you’ll be able to be objective about it and you will either not see what you missed in your delivery or you’ll feel so badly about yourself that you’ll won’t see a solution, or try to overcompensate….or worse, give up.
3) Lovingly Work with & Address Your Client’s Resistance or Shadow
As I said above, 9 times out of 10, when a client is angry at you or demanding that you haven’t done something right or enough…it’s usually NOT true. And it’s not about you.
It’s about your client.
And her own Resistance to Growth or Shadow of Anger or Judgment.
Now, working with client Resistance and Shadow are BIG topics, and I teach those techniques thoroughly in Sacred Depths Coach Training and Into the Depths Facilitator Training.
But here a few pointers to get some wheels spinning for you. You want to be able to:
— Recognize the Resistance or the Shadow
(these terms get thrown around a lot in the Transformational Industry, but very few practitioners actually know what they mean, what the difference between the two are, and how to spot them)
–Manage your own Triggers
–Don’t be scared of your client’s emotions, anger or judgment
(as soon as you get scared or intimidated or make it mean something about you, you’re not as equipped to lead)
–Lovingly call out & create awareness your client around the pattern that’s coming up for her
(people that get angry or judgmental don’t do it out of thin air. They have a history of it, whether they realize it or not, and are patterned to do so as a coping mechanism or self-sabotage vehicle. As their coach, you want to be able to lovingly yet firmly guide your client to awareness around their pattern).
–Normalize the Pattern
(if you don’t Normalize the Pattern and show how there is nothing wrong with it, your client will go into shame around the pattern and will be less open to deeper awareness and growth around it).
–Create Awareness around the Origin Story and Primary Purpose
(the more you can help your client uncover the Resistance, the Shadow or the Pattern Origin Story & Primary Purpose, then the more conscious choice she has in choosing another way of being and operating)
–Create Space for New Solutions, Energies and Patterns for your Client to Lean Into
(do this in a variety of ways including helping her own the higher level Shadow energy, or re-working the Origin Story, or Re-Wiring the Neural Pathway, and much more!)
4) Set Appropriate Boundaries:
This is a very important element to put into place when a client is inappropriately Angry, Demanding or in Judgment. Get very clear with yourself on what you are willing and not willing to do or hold for them, and then very clearly and very lovingly communicate that boundary. This step is most effective after you’ve done the 3 previous steps. If you skip to this one, you will either not set an aligned boundary, or not set it in a clear and loving way, or…your client will be stuck in their Resistance or Shadow to be able to take it in or accept it.
So there you have it! Some beginning pointers on how to handle pissed off or overly-demanding clients. Would love to hear your takeaways on this one!