Effective Strategies for Life Coaches on Managing Resistant Clients

May 26, 2023
By Team Simply.Coach
how to work with resistant clients

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As a life coach, working with clients who are resistant or difficult can be challenging. Whether they are struggling with change or simply don’t believe in the process, these clients can create roadblocks to their own progress. However, with the right strategies, you can help them overcome their resistance and achieve their goals. In this blog post, we’ll explore managing resistant clients in life coaching. 

Build Trust 

so how does a life coach go about managing resistant clients? The first step in working with a resistant client is to establish trust. Trust is the foundation of the coach-client relationship, and it’s essential for creating an environment in which the client feels safe to explore their challenges and goals. To build trust, you need to listen actively, show empathy, and demonstrate your expertise. By being present and attentive, you can help the client feel heard and understood. You can also share your own experiences and insights to show that you understand their struggles and are committed to helping them succeed. 

Identify Underlying Issues 

When working with a resistant client, it’s important to identify any underlying issues that may be contributing to their resistance. This could include fear, anxiety, or a lack of confidence. By addressing these issues, you can help the client feel more comfortable with the coaching process and more motivated to make changes. To identify underlying issues, you can ask open-ended questions, use active listening skills, and observe nonverbal cues. Once you have identified the underlying issues, you can work with the client to develop strategies for addressing them. 

Set Boundaries 

Another important strategy for managing resistant clients is to set boundaries. Boundaries help to establish clear expectations and guidelines for the coaching relationship, and they can help to prevent the client from taking over the coaching process. Some examples of boundaries you might set include limiting the frequency and length of sessions, establishing clear communication protocols, and defining the scope of the coaching relationship. By setting boundaries, you can create a structure that supports the client’s progress while also respecting their individual needs and preferences. 

Use Empathy 

Empathy is a powerful tool while managing resistant clients. When you show empathy, you demonstrate that you understand and care about the client’s struggles, which can help to build trust and rapport. To use empathy, you can reflect on the client’s feelings and experiences, acknowledge their challenges, and offer support and encouragement. By using empathy, you can create a positive and supportive environment that encourages the client to open up and engage in the coaching process. 


Working with resistant clients can be challenging, but by using the strategies outlined above, you can help them overcome their resistance and achieve their goals. Remember to build trust, identify underlying issues, set boundaries, and use empathy. By doing so, you can create a supportive environment that encourages the client to engage in the coaching process and make positive changes in their life. 

If you’re dealing with a difficult client – one who isn’t resistant to coaching but challenges your ability to effectively communicate and help them achieve their goals – read this blog post here


1. What causes clients to be resistant in the coaching process? 

Clients may be resistant for a variety of reasons, including fear of change, lack of motivation, or a negative attitude toward coaching. It’s important to identify the underlying causes of resistance to develop effective strategies for overcoming it. 

2. How can I overcome resistance in clients? 

To overcome resistance in clients, you can build trust, identify underlying issues, set boundaries, and use empathy. By doing so, you can create a supportive environment that encourages the client to engage in the coaching process. 

3. What if a client doesn’t want to engage in coaching? 

If a client doesn’t want to engage in coaching, it’s important to respect their decision. However, you can explore their reasons for not wanting to engage and try to address any concerns they may have. You may also need to revisit the coaching agreement and make sure that the client’s goals are aligned with the coaching process. 

4. How can I maintain my own motivation when working with resistant clients? 

Working with resistant clients can be draining, so it’s important to take care of yourself and maintain your own motivation. This may include setting boundaries around your own time and energy, seeking support from colleagues or a supervisor, and engaging in self-care activities. 

5. Can working with resistant clients be beneficial for both the coach and the client? 

Yes, working with resistant clients can be beneficial for both the coach and the client. By helping the client overcome their resistance and achieve their goals, you can experience a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction in your work as a coach. The client, in turn, can experience positive changes in their life and feel empowered to make further progress. 

About Simply.Coach

Simply.Coach is an enterprise-grade coaching software designed to be used by individual coaches and coaching businesses. Trusted by ICF-accredited and EMCC-credentialed coaches worldwide, Simply.Coach is on a mission to elevate the experience and process of coaching with technology-led tools and solutions.  

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