We have all had them. You know the clients who make an hour session seem like 10 hours. They can zap our energy. They can be overbearing and in some cases they can be high maintenance. They are the difficult clients. Invariably each trainer will not get along with every client they train. The odds of that are rail thin. But there are ways of dealing with clients who are difficult, that will make your day and life easier.

    Set Clear Expectations

    This applies to goal setting and overall client rapport but more specifically to our topic, dealing with the difficult clients. If we set clear expectations of both parties in the beginning, you minimize the amount of “difficult” one client could have. For example, if you set the expectation that each session begins on the hour and you have a 24 hour cancelation policy, it will be more difficult for the client to be late or cancel right before their session. They understand that there will be consequences to being late or cancelling late. This won’t prevent them from doing it but it will set the expectation that you, as a trainer, won’t put up with it.

    Be Proactive and Not Reactive

    As a trainer it is vitally important that we do not take things so personal and look at things more objectively. For instance, if a client comes in and is having a bad day and is complaining or being snarky, it is important that we look at this from their perspective. Whatever they say or do cannot be taken personally on our parts, therefore we do not react to their behavior. We are only there to empathetically view their situation and not react. Essentially, their behavior is a reflection upon them and not upon us.

    Communication is Crucial

    If a client is being overly difficult or acting irrational, how you convey that to them can make or break your relationship. Becoming defensive can put the spotlight on you instead of reacting calm and cool and allow the spotlight be placed upon them. Communicate to your client things that they do that you do not like or hinder the relationship. Being open and honest with people is always the best policy but also keep in mind that you must own your own shortcomings in the relationship as well.

    Know When Enough is Enough

    There will be a time where you and a client are not clicking. The relationship has run its course and both parties are not happy. It is important to let the client know how you are feeling and that maybe another trainer would be better suited to work with them. There is no reason to work with someone you don’t enjoy working with.

    Clients can be difficult at times and very frustrating. But it is important to remember that if you keep the communication open and be honest with your client to have a stress free client/trainer experience.

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