When You Just Aren’t Feeling It in Your Coaching Relationship

post from Judy Nelson:

What happens when you no
longer feel the enthusiasm you once had for your coaching sessions?

You know the signs of problems:

ü  Sighing
when you realize it’s time for another call or meeting

ü  Thinking
about all the other things you could be doing instead of the session

ü  Wondering
whether it was a good use of your time when the call ends

Or worse…

ü  Dreading
the call

ü  Saying
you need to sign off early when you don’t

ü  Considering
rescheduling even though you don’t have a good reason

ü  Cancelling

Most coachees have been
there—and so have most coaches! If one of you feels this way about the coaching
session, then in all likelihood the other does, too.

Neither of you mentioned it
because it’s uncomfortable. However, avoiding the discomfort of bringing up
uncomfortable subjects is just further proof that the coaching process is

It’s time to address the uncomfortable
issue directly. Maybe not asking point blank, “Do you dread our sessions, too?”,
but rather, “If it’s okay with you, I’d like to spend a few minutes today
talking about where we are in the coaching process.” Another option could be,
“I’ve noticed a decreased energy between us in our last few sessions. Perhaps
we could think about whether we need to make some changes.”

Recognizing your negative
feelings is an opportunity to take necessary action. Here are four more tips
for addressing what could feel like an awkward issue:

1.    Email ahead. Ask
for time to be set aside to discuss progress or next steps. It ensures that
both of you will come to the session mentally prepared for the conversation.

2.    Rehearse Your Lines.
Having the right words ready makes it easier to say and helps you find the ones
that communicate in the best possible way. Some examples could be, “I noticed
that I’m not putting as much into the coaching process as I was early in our
relationship.” Or you could try, “Sometimes, I’m unprepared for our sessions
and I think about canceling.”

3.    Be ready with suggestions. He or
she might ask for suggestions on how to make the process work better for you. Be
ready to answer. A possible response could be, “Sometimes, it feels like we’re
losing focus.” Or perhaps try, “There are times when I’m not feeling engaged
with our process.” Solutions could include stepping up the timeline or
modifying the sessions tone or style.

the room.
If the other person reacts defensively or sounds irritated
with your discussion, it might be time to take a break.

Are You Wasting Your Client’s Money?

coaches have set goals and timelines for the client along with scheduled, periodic
reviews. However, these measures do not preclude a decline in energy required
for coaching success.

Try this exercise to see if your coaching
experience needs work:

a list of all of your current clients. Imagine that you have a coaching
appointment in one hour. Assess how you would feel in anticipation of the

Excited, Energized
Resigned, Bored

clients who received checks in the excited/energized
or positive columns probably feel
the same way. All clear here.

a client call in a neutral mood
could be a warning sign for troubled water. Is it time to right the ship?

your anticipatory reaction as the coach is resigned
or negative
, it’s a red flag and a call to action: the coaching
relationship is headed for rocky shores.

dread? The moment of truth is upon
you. How will you respond?

Clients: Are You Ready to Step
up Your Professionalism?

Executive coaching develops a
client’s self-awareness and self-management skills to become a more competent
professional. Like the coach, the client also has a responsibility to monitor
progress (or lack thereof) toward his goals. If the client feels bored with the
coaching process, then she has every right to suggest a pause for reflection.

It is not easy, especially for
people with a natural high need to please, high anxiety, and insecurity (or all
of the above). But true professionals embrace and manage discomfort. Moreover,
practicing this skill is exactly the type of exercise to try in a coaching

bottom line? Both coach and client have an obligation to address negative
feelings as soon as they are aware of them. To continue the sessions without
exploring these concerns is, at best, unprofessional. If unaddressed, the
feelings will make the remainder of the coaching process even less effective
and more dreaded.

In other words, if you don’t
fix the problem together, then you two will end up wasting both of your time
and the client’s money. And nobody wants that—least of all the client!

@CoachJudyNelson has
golfed with presidents, been heckled by famous comedians, and researched
insurance policies for riding elephants on behalf of Zsa Zsa Gábor. As a former
CEO, Judy has been a
Professional Coach
since 2006 and assists leaders and career
seekers to develop and reach stretch goals. Her new book, Intentional Leadership (Motivational Press, 2016) debuts later this