How to coach someone who doesn’t want to be coached

Coaching is not an easy business, but it can be enormously rewarding.

When you see transformations and milestones occur in the lives of clients it brings a sense of fulfillment like no other.

In many situations, the biggest obstacle a client has to changing their lives is their own beliefs and self-imposed limitations.

They insist they already know best and don’t need guidance.

Here’s how to work with this resistance instead of against it.

Get to know them

Coaching is a process. Don’t rush it. Get to know your client gradually and keep pressure and judgments off for the initial sessions.

Your job here is to get to know the client. Find out what makes them tick and how their life led them to where they are, with their unique challenges and strengths.

When somebody doesn’t want to be coached, it could be for various reasons.

  • It may be that you are coaching them in a work environment and the coaching sessions are mandatory.
  • It may be that they are attending coaching on the advice or pressure of a family member, spouse, or friend and really don’t want to be there.
  • It may be that they are there voluntarily but become highly resistant whenever personal questions come up or issues that trigger strong emotional responses
  • Or it may be that they are simply very rude and like to interrupt.

Get to know your client and find out what it is about coaching that seems to rub them wrong and why.

The truth is there are a number of typical “hard cases” when it comes to coaching.

As a business strategist and communications leader Lex Schroeder writes:

“There are many types of people who are resistant to coaching:

The deflector, the interrupter, the ‘I know all the answers,’ the ‘I know more than you…’

Understand the root cause of the person’s resistance to coaching through relationship.”

Digging up the roots

In the next point, I’ll get to more about the roots of resistance to coaching. It’s often necessary to unearth what exactly is going on and why.

Some clients may simply be a more aggressive personality, but other times they are actively resisting emotional and psychological traumas that come up.

This is generally in conjunction with an authority figure or someone they consider above them telling them what to do.

Granted, the hierarchy of competence is a natural part of life, but all too often people have experienced incompetent and manipulative friends, lovers, family members, bosses, and gurus trying to take advantage of them.

And they’re worried you might be the same.

Gain their trust

Gaining a client’s trust is of paramount importance. If they don’t trust you, they won’t confide in you or enact your advice.

Getting to know your client and understanding the roots of their resistance is key.

Perhaps they have often been undermined in life or been dealing with cultural or familial pressures that they find overbearing.

Thus, on hearing you make certain insights about their life, they resist instinctively, associating you with hurtful emotions of being controlled or compartmentalized into a role.

Your job is to guide the client out of this perception and show them that you truly are on their team and collaborating with them, not trying to pull their strings.

You are truly there to understand and to help.

Gaining a client’s trust is about listening more than you talk, and emphasizing your role as a collaborator, not a controller when you do talk.

You’re there for them, but you’re also there to be that extra head that can have insights and ideas they might otherwise miss.

Once the client realizes you’re not judging, you’re just analyzing, many of their initial reservations may give way to trust and fluid conversation.

Introduce them to Life Journal

One of the best resources you can offer to your client is called Life Journal.

This program is all about giving clients the foundation they need to go step by step and strategically build the life they thought was always out of reach.


What does it take to build a life filled with exciting opportunities and passion-fueled adventures?

Most of us hope for a life like that, but we feel stuck, unable to achieve the goals we wishfully set at the start of each year.

I felt the same way until I took part in Life Journal. Created by a teacher and life coach Jeanette Brown, this was the ultimate wake-up call I needed to stop dreaming and start taking action.

It broke through my resistance to coaching and showed me real and applicable tools to start improving my life and habits immediately.

Click here to find out more about Life Journal.

So what makes Jeanette’s guidance more effective than other self-development programs?

It’s simple:

Jeanette created a unique way of putting YOU in control of your life.

She’s not interested in telling you how to live your life. Instead, she’ll give you lifelong tools that’ll help you achieve all your goals, keeping the focus on what you’re passionate about.

And that’s what makes Life Journal so powerful.

If you’re ready to start living the life you’ve always dreamt of, you need to check out Jeanette’s advice. Who knows, today could be the first day of your new life.

Here’s the link once again.

Use the resistance in your favor

pexels shvets production 7176319 1 How to coach someone who doesn't want to be coached

A common thing that happens when somebody doesn’t want to be coached is that they push back until their coach becomes frustrated or lashes out at them. They then use this as “proof” that the whole thing was just about controlling them or acting superior in the first place.

In fact, coaching is the opposite of being above somebody or running their life for them.

In many ways, it’s actually about giving someone the tips and tools to more effectively live their own life.

And it doesn’t mean that a coach has his or her life perfect either. It simply means that as a professional you are sharing what has worked for your clients and from your research. This is valuable, but in order to get the client to appreciate the value, it’s sometimes useful to use their resistance in your favor instead of pushing back against it.

How to do it

Every coaching relationship is different, and every set of challenges and questions is going to differ as well.

Your personality as a coach may be more on the intense, proactive side, or more on the easygoing, subtle side.

It all has value, and each client-coach combination is unique and valuable.

In general, however, your role as a coach should be to slowly guide the client into seeing you as their ally rather than a therapist-client style of connection.

You want to allow them to go their own way with only slight course corrections from your side.

The founder of Taoism, Lao Tzu, puts this best:

“Water is the softest thing, yet it can penetrate mountains and earth. This shows clearly the principle of softness overcoming hardness.”

In order to use your client’s resistance as a plus instead of a drawback you simply have to show appreciation for their hardheadedness and then direct it toward their own life goals instead of against your advice.

When they tell you they know better, say that you are not doubting their experiences or perceptions.

When they interrupt to always “one-up” you, say “good point,” or “I hadn’t thought of that,” and then calmly start back with what you were saying.

You’re like a calmly running brook that gets its way slowly and guides the current, which is the client’s undirected and intense energy and resistance.

Then as you begin to show appreciation and empathy for their resistance, you can begin to point out situations in life where determination and standing up for yourself are very good qualities.

Express understanding and appreciation of their lack of desire to be coached, and use it to help guide the client into a more empowered mindset.

Urge them to take this untameable spirit and turn it on to the problems that are overwhelming them:

Use the client’s resistance to coaching to coach them.

Work together, not apart

If you want to know how to coach someone who doesn’t want to be coached, it’s all a matter of working together as a team.

Letting your client know that you’re on their side and that they are still ultimately in the driver’s seat is extremely important.

Courses like Life Journal can be very helpful in giving a client the tools that he or she needs to break through resistance to being coached.

At the end of the day, coaching is all about learning to work at a speed that is comfortable but still challenging for your client.

It’s a matter of balance:

You don’t want to push too hard and scare them away, but you also don’t want to baby them and fail to see any real progress.

Picture of Paul Brian

Paul Brian

Paul R. Brian is a freelance journalist and writer who has reported from around the world, focusing on religion, culture and geopolitics. Follow him on and visit his website at

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