Help! A Client Called My Bluff! What Do I Do Now?

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  15. Help! A Client Called My Bluff! What Do I Do Now?

The #insidemymicrobiz experiment has garnered a lot of questions from readers. Good questions deserve a column of their own.

Got a question? Hit me up on Twitter or email me: [shanna] at [this domain].

I’ve gotten myself into an interesting spot (not quite a dilemma or even a problem, just not sure what I want to do about it)…

A former client contacted me recently about my current coaching packages because she wanted to see if she could use her education budget through work for coaching. Yay.. Except she was the client who signed up with me when I was in certification and committed to 6 months (at a very cheap rate because I did a special while in certification)… And then after our first session, I had to chase her for months to get the 2nd session scheduled… And at the end of the year, I cut her loose, keeping the one month fees she paid for and telling her our agreement was over (and inside I was saying good riddance).

Ok. So.. She emailed me and I was torn. So I decided to bluff. If I quote high and she leaves, that’s fine. If she takes it, at least I’ll be well paid. I responded and said that for my “corporate clients” I charge $1000/month for 3 sessions/month… And that any missed or canceled appointments would need to be rescheduled within that month (no carryover), and no refunds. Oh and minimum 3 month commitment.

I didn’t expect her to take me up on that… But today she emailed and asked if she could prepay (so she can use this year’s budget) and can I provide a certificate of completion? Umm… So not a problem to do either of those, but do I want to coach her? Have I set enough policies and boundaries that I won’t get pissed off every other week? That said, I’m a much different coach now than I was back then… I don’t accommodate or put up with the shit I used to. And then there’s the part of me who could really use the money… And the part that wonders if this is compromising my values… And the part that wonders what $1000/mo worth of coaching looks like. Mostly wanted to vent/write it out, but also curious what your thoughts are on this?…



Hmm. If it were me, I would take it. Personally, a grand is a grand. You bid high, and she called your bluff. What do you care if she only comes to half her sessions? She thinks she’s getting a good deal (because it’s not her money, but still.)

So then, what are you getting out of it? For starters, you’re getting a grand, which I’m guessing is about double your regular rate. That’s a big psychological barrier to break. Next time you ask it will be easier. You also get a good lesson in detaching from the outcome. It is not your responsibility whether or not she progresses. That’s on her. If she doesn’t make appointments, it’s not your job to hound her.

You also get practice creating and holding boundaries, which is so good for people. Most of the time we interact with people who are either perfectly polite or just the tiniest bit outside it. To get to cross swords with someone who is honest-to-goodness pushy means that you have to learn where your boundaries are or she’ll wipe the floor with you– and you would have let her. This will grant you the ability to be SUPER clear about your boundaries to all your other clients, which will increase your transparency and their comfort– everyone likes to know where the lines are.

[Tweet “To get to cross swords with someone who is pushy means you’ll learn where your boundaries are”]

She’ll probably be a big pain in the ass. You’ll want to tear your hair out a half-dozen times. You’ll be stuck with her until March, and hilariously, she will probably want to re-up. You might have learned your lesson and fire her after three months. Or, you might have trained her to be decent client (and yourself not to be a mother hen) and be fine with continuing.

That’s why I would take it, at least. If you’re very prone to letting people push you around and then hating yourself for doing it, you might want to keep this door firmly shut and work your way up to this kind of thing. But it sounds to me like you need to take your boundaries for a test drive.