As an empowerment coach I end up having a lot of conversations of the type of thing I can help with, family, friends and colleges as well as potential clients. I’m often asked for advice and certainly have lots of personal dilemmas disclosed to me whether I like it or not. The temptation is to immediately launch into outlining the options and choices open to the person, it’s what I do naturally, it’s why I went into this line of work. However, I’ve learnt that what I’m doing is essentially coaching for free and that can often end badly. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe in monetising every thought bubble I have, I don’t bill my friends after a heart to heart, I’m not completely cagey about what I know and how it might help someone, and of course I use free discovery calls to see if potential clients are a good fit, but I won’t coach for free and these are the reasons why:

1. Unsolicited Advice is Annoying.

I struggle with keeping my mouth shut, especially when I can see what, to me, is a glaringly obvious problem but not everyone wants to hear your opinions on it. Sometime people just want to vent, they know what they need to do but they just want to have a good ol’ healthy bitch about it. Telling them their options and possible solutions just ends up being insulting because they’re not stupid. If you have a rule of no coaching for free, you’re less likely to offer unsolicited advice, and tick people off.

2. Secondary Gain.

Ever found yourself in a time loop conversation? You know the one, where you feel like you’ve had the same conversation a million times. The person keeps venting the same frustrations and problems, you’ve outlined the solutions each time but they never act on it and just come back to rehash the same stuff. Chances are that they are getting some kind of secondary gain, where unconsciously they get some weird benefit. E.G. They never go and get physio for an injury because they get lots of sympathy when they complain about it and people run around after them. They’d be horrified if you ever called them out on it, and the reality is that they’re unaware of it so there is little point. They’re actions and payoff are unconscious. Pointing out their options and solutions is a pointless and frustrating exercise because unconsciously they don’t want to fix the problem. If they wanted to they’d pay a physio or whatever practitioner was most suited to their particular problem. Being their “free” albeit well meaning coach is just a drain on your energy and isn’t helping anyone. If they’re friends and family, just redirect the conversation. If you don’t have any relationship with them… Walk away!

3. Devalues Your Worth

It can be hard enough putting a price on your services that reflects the value of your work without testing your money blocks. When you coach for free, you end up helping all sorts, not just your ideal client. Ideal clients love what you do and walk away stoked by the outcomes you’ve helped them achieve. Non-ideal clients, tire kickers and freebie hunters will always tell you that you’re over priced and lacking value. Save yourself the heartache and turmoil and just don’t go there.

The important rider to this is that I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t give away lots of value or that you shouldn’t be generous with your expertise. What I am saying is that without a conscious boundary of “no free coaching” you can end up competing with the free version of yourself, putting your energy and efforts into “bottomless pits in crisis” people, and never having the time, focus, or energy to work with the kinds of clients that will most benefit from what you have to offer.

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