How To Let Go Of The Non-Coachable Complainers (aka Shitty A-hole Clients)

This is a must if you're going to forge ahead and help the people you're really here to serve

by Kris Ward

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No matter who you are… no matter how much talent and courage you infuse into your work…

No matter how many years you’ve hustled to build a name for yourself and how much of your heart and soul you pour into your offerings for your clients / students / customers, there’s always gonna be the small percentage of people who won’t be satisfied and they’ll beat you down for it.

Every few years we’ll meet one or two of them.

Weeds. Get’em outta there.
Image Credit: Shutterstock

They’re like nasty weeds – they’ve just got to GO! 

They’re the non-coachable complainers, AKA shitty a-hole clients. Ah, what lovely contrast they provide.

If we can remember the sentiments shared here, dealing with them will suck a little bit less AND we’ll be able to transmute the negativity of all of it into powerful learning and a whole new level of self-trust and self-valuing.

Here’s what you need to know about them:

  • They make a lot of assumptions and they don’t communicate those assumptions or check to see if they’re accurate (when is this NOT a dangerous recipe for disaster?).
  • Regardless of what you convey to them regarding what you will and won’t be delivering, they create their own expectations (often very unrealistic) then they bash, nitpick, turn their noses up and point fingers when their expectations aren’t met.
  • They compare you to others and tell you why you should be more like so-and-so, or do things more like that person over there.
  • They ostracize themselves and refuse to participate fully, then they blame you for their lack of success / satisfaction / happiness.
  • They decide somewhere along the way that they don’t like your style – then they proceed to try and teach you how to change your style to match their preferences.
  • Once they’re unhappy and the crappy attitude has fully set in, it will be very hard for them to look for anything but more evidence of why they’re right and you’re wrong. Nothing is going to make them happy but getting validated for being right.
  • It’s actually really sad because they’re just treating you like they internally treat themselves a lot of the time, which is why they’re stuck and perhaps why they came to you for help in the first place. Too bad you won’t be able to help them because they won’t do their part.
  • They’re not bad people. They’re just mis-matches. They’re not good clients for you, and evidently, you’re not a good match for them either. That’s 100% OK. Because it’s high time to move the hell on.

So what’s your part in this? And what happens next?

It can be a massive energy drain if you let them continue to beat you down for not doing things their way. Respect yourself and don’t fall into that trap.

Don’t apologize for being authentically you. Don’t bend over backwards trying to be someone you’re not just so you can make them happy.

It will only rob you and your other clients of the energy, focus, clarity and unwavering self-trust that you need in order to show up for the clients you really ARE here to serve.

     When you work for yourself, there’s a natural tendency to try to be all things to all people, which often turns out to be counterproductive,” says Stephen Denny, author of Killing Giants: 10 Strategies to Topple the Goliath in Your Industry. “You have to be willing to know who you are, who you’re not and whether a client’s needs––and values––align with yours.”

Don’t believe a word of what they say… UNLESS it feels constructive and important.

If there was anything actually constructive in their feedback that could help you do things better in the future (better for you and better for everyone), of course take that into account and quickly implement doable change wherever possible.

Don’t feel like you have to defend yourself or reply to every bullet point on their laundry list of complaints. It’s not worth it.

Just fire them as a client/student/customer by letting them know how clear you are that there is a mis-match and that it’s time to end the working relationship.

Even if you don’t legally have to, consider refunding their money in full (there’s nothing like a full refund to bring YOU a sense of freedom and closure – a reminder that you owe them absolutely nothing).

Wish them well, and move on. But keep in mind:

You’re human. So expect the whole thing to hurt.

There will be some disappointment. Some anger. It will sting.

Don’t stuff any of this down as that will only make it fester. In fact, breathe to let yourself feel if more fully. Just don’t get caught up in it. Know it will pass as you take the pressure off and practice self-compassion.

As quickly as you can, shift your attention to gratitude for all the clients and students who light you up and lift you up.

Be grateful for the learning. Recommit yourself to never accepting a client who doesn’t feel incredibly blessed for the opportunity to work with you and who doesn’t resonate 100% with your style and way of doing business.

Similarly, never accept a client who YOU wouldn’t feel incredibly blessed to work with. If you accept a client just for money, I promise you it will cost you more than it pays you. Also…

Recommit yourself to never accepting a client who hasn’t fully read, understood and agreed to your terms and conditions.

These terms and conditions need to be in writing. Contractual documents need to be signed by all potential clients stating that they are fully aware of who you are, how you do things, what you DO and DON’T deliver, who is invited to work with you, and who is NOT.

Over the years, as you encounter mis-matched clients, grapple with each situation as honestly as you can, and gain more and more of this ‘lovely contrast’…
Add more detail to your contracts.

Add to the list of qualities and needs shared by your true target market, your ideal clients – but also add to the list of qualities and needs shared by the people you cannot and will not be able to serve. Put it all in there as explicitly and directly as you can.

You have my full permission to pull from the list above – describing the non-coachable complainer – to include in your list entitled “Do Not Apply To Work With Me If…” or “Do Not Come To My Class If…”.

What you’re doing here isn’t bitchy or judgmental.

It’s valuing yourself first. Which is what you HAVE to do if you’re going to be able to show up fully for those you love and want to serve. It might offend some people… the ones who WON’T be a good fit to work with.

But that’s a good thing. It filters the mis-matches out and saves you time, money and heartache.

Taking these steps helps set and uphold healthy boundaries.

It will protect your energy levels (and your sanity) so that you’ll have full focus, clarity and presence to continue to do your important work and serve your true peeps.

Do it for you AND for them.

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Kris Ward
Kris Ward is a Lifestyle Design Coach™ Trainer and the president and founder of AbundantYogi.com. She has helped to educate and inspire over 100,000 people worldwide out of painful conflict around money, self-sabotage, and inhibited self-expression into having the freedom and abundance to do what they love every day, and ...read more

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Read 12 comments

  1. Freda
    says

    Remarkable! Its actually remarkable piece of writing, I have
    got much clear idea regarding from this piece of writing.
    Freda recently posted…FredaMy Profile

  2. Jeannie
    says

    There is definately a lot to find outt about this issue.
    I like all of the points you have made.
    Jeannie recently posted…JeannieMy Profile

  3. rencontre sérieuse
    says

    Thanks for finally writing about >Letting Go of Your Worst Clients – The Abundant
    Yogi Blog <Liked it!
    rencontre sérieuse recently posted…rencontre sérieuseMy Profile

  4. Info Dan Berita Bola
    says

    Aw, this was a very good post. Taking a few minutes and actual
    effort to make a really good article… but what can I
    say… I procrastinate a whole lot and never
    seem to get nearly anything done.
    Info Dan Berita Bola recently posted…Info Dan Berita BolaMy Profile

  5. Leah
    says

    Ooooh, it sounds like someone did you or one of your colleagues wrong! 🙁

    I’ve definitely worked with energetic mis-matches before, and it’s really a bad situation all around.

    Before my current business, I wrote web copy for local businesses. I had one client who, like you said, had completely unusual assumptions and expectations about me and my work. Even after opening up to a non-ideal client about how I wasn’t the right fit, she still wanted me to continue doing work for her. Although I wanted to make good on our project agreement, it was so energetically *wrong* that I couldn’t even do my best work.

    I returned all of her money even though I had already completed 3/4 of the project, and kind of severed all ties. From then on, I decided I had to talk to EVERY client before we get started, just to feel out their energy and expectations. It makes a big difference!!

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      Smart. And agreed. That’s a great strategy. I actually do the same. It takes time yes, but in the long run, it also saves time, money and precious energy and resources. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Ashley
    says

    Love this! Yes! AND I’d say there’s the draining side to “but they’ve taken …” Where you justify prorating or keeping some of the monetary exchange for working with you – this is where you need to DEFINITELY just part – it is so liberating! It frees you up to receive this AND more out of the relief you experience from letting go of this energy vampire who’s praying on you
    , the energy you give to others AND the enthusiasm others bring to the table.

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      Agreed.

  7. Caroline Frenette Intuitive Leadership Coach
    says

    I love all the tips you share to ensure that clients are clear on the coaching relationship. It’s really important to have contracts in place and to be clear on the boundaries.

    But I can’t help but think that if a client is “getting to you”, you’ve lost your grounding. You have momentarily forgotten who you really are; God, Genius, Love, Infinite Potential…

    Namaste,
    XO

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      Annnhh. I love that you shared your piece. And I have to disagree on this one. We’re human. If a client isn’t fun to work with, they aren’t doing their part of the work they agreed to do, and they don’t enjoy working with us, no amount of “remembering we who we really are” is going to change the fact that what we have here is a mis-match. Plain and simple. End it, learn from it, refund monies, and move on.

  8. Anne-Sophie
    says

    Hey Kris: totally with you on this! It’s so important to not take things personally, not question your authenticity or abilities and keep on serving the people who ACTUALLY want you.

    Easy to forget — great reminder.

    xo Anne-Sophie

    1. Kris Ward
      says

      You’re welcome. Thanks for chiming in.