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When you're not qualified to answer the question

how to respond & avoid looking dumb

Lemme paint a picture for you.

Let’s say you’re a business coach.

You’re in a session with your client, when suddenly, out of nowhere, they catch you off guard with a question like:

What technique can I use to deal with my bipolar disorder?


Yeah, awkward on multiple levels.

  1. You’re not qualified to address mental illness (unless you’re one of the few coaches who’s also a licensed psychologist/therapist).

  2. It’s totally outside of the topic they hired you to coach them on!

So whaddaya do?

If you’re already in this moment, best thing is to be honest and direct.

Something like:

“Hey Suzy, thank you so much for your trust and vulnerability in asking me for help with your bipolar disorder.

Out of deep respect to you, I’m not the best person to answer that but I encourage you to seek help from a licensed therapist who’s best equipped to support you in that way.”

See? Nothin’ too crazy.

BUT, here’s how you can prevent the awkward altogether…

With all new clients, have them read and sign an “expectations document”.

This doesn’t replace an actual legal contract between you, but is more of a “written handshake” on what you expect from each other.

Write out some bullet points in plain english of what you do coach on, and what you don’t.

(you’ll probably need to update this several times in the future to include new things you wouldn’t have guessed people would ask you about!)

Just having this in writing and having them sign this will help you to avoid SO MANY awkward conversations, and just keeps both of you safe and focused on what they hired you to help them on.

Here’s a basic expectations document I just put together for you if you need a template.

Quote of the week:

The most important things to say are those which often I did not think necessary for me to say — because they were too obvious.

André Gide

Song of the week:

- Kirk

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