Client-coach relationship

Hello Brooke,

One of my clients is a woman I am somewhat friends with — we work in the same field and have become friendly over the years, but she lives in a different city so we mostly emailed, and I didn’t count her as a close friend. We are both freelance content creators, but I’ve been at it longer, my work has been more successful, and I’ve built a larger platform.

I have offered four free sessions to her, to start with, and then we switched to paid. We’ve done 1 paid session, and have another this week.

She just emailed me today with a list of things she would like to discuss/change/clarify. Some of them have to do with the coaching itself (mode of payment, structure of the sessions) but a few items on her list have more to do with the nature of our relationship.

She’s wondering if the coaching relationship will endanger our friendship, she wonders about the imbalance of her possibly sharing more things about herself / being more vulnerable than I will be, and lastly she says she’s long wondered why I don’t follow her on social media or share her work with my audience. She feels I don’t value or appreciate her work.

I was a little taken aback by this and I’m not sure how to react.

The considerations on the coaching I can handle/discuss, no problem, it’s the maths. 🙂

But when it veers into insecurity/appreciation territory, I wonder what’s appropriate or in her best interest.

To be truthful, my main impulse is to offer to coach her on these questions: I want to withdraw myself from the equation and look at the situation together as if the person not sharing her work were someone else, and explore the underlying thoughts behind those question. What is she making those things mean? What would it mean to her if I did share her work with my audience? Does she want to rely on other people’s validation (including mine) to determine the value of her work?

I think this would be important work for her, but I don’t want to appear manipulative or sneaky, dodging her questions and implying that I’m the perfect, untouchable one who never has to explain herself.

We are scheduled to speak on Wednesday, and my plan for now is to respond to her tomorrow with responses on “the maths” (coaching logistics) and telling we should discuss the rest during our session on Wednesday.

I’d be grateful to hear what you would advise in a situation like this.

I imagine these are things you cover during the coaching training, and FYI I have put down my deposit for 2018, but I’m building my skills in the meantime. 🙂

Thank you!