When I am not in the state to coach…

In the ICF core competencies we read:

  1. Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one’s emotions
  2. Mentally and emotionally prepares for sessions
  3. Seeks help from outside sources when necessary

but what if I am just not in the mood, if I am in a bad state, pre-occupied, not really able to do a good job as a coach. This question was asked by a participant in one of our weekly free meetups and exchanges. It was great to have such a lovely group of coaches (from Greece via Germany to Shanghai) there who came up with the following answers:

If it is not too bad, just start coaching

I always feel energized by coaching — even when initially I did not feel like it. Once I start listening to the client, listening for what is important to them, which insights they already had, what they want, what they are able to do, I am no longer fatigued. That’s one of the beauties of the Solution Focused approach: we listen for energizing things (without brushing away what’s difficult, of course), we trust that the client will figure things out — so coaching does not become a strenuous activity.

If being present is difficult, be present to yourself

What is going on? I think, I’d first try and notice what I am feeling and then offer myself some compassion and acceptance for what is. Then I’d maybe write down things that are worrying me and what I will do about them, so they are out of my head. I might ask myself what I would like my state to be and what I know about how to find that state. For example, I know that I get better when I take a walk, or lie down for just a bit.

Find someone to reflect with and talk to

I can always call a friend, a fellow coach, my supervisor or coach to think things through if I cannot manage on my own. It’s good to have a few people at hand that you can call for a quick “pick-me-up” coaching


It hasn’t happened for me in almost 25 years of coaching, but I know I would if I was in a bad way. I just read that cancelling because we broke our leg is normal — why not if we are not in a mental state to be able to coach? Of course, we need to be healthy (mentally and physically) enough to run a business. (A lot of solopreneurs underestimate the resilience that you do need to be self-employed). We can’t cancel every second time, but when we are really not able to coach, we shouldn’t. Having clear agreements upfront about cancellation or postponing times, fees etc. for both client and coach is probably a good idea here.

Do come to one of our free meetups and exchanges if you would like to raise your questions:

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