When you are a self-employed Highly Sensitive coach, you need to make a healthy income doing what you do. Otherwise, your work is not sustainable and won’t last. Your Highly Sensitive coaching rates need to be truly viable.
As a Highly Sensitive Person, you bring a lot of attentitiveness and listening skills to the table. You emphathise with your clients, more than most. But, this also has a cost! You can’t be in this hightened caring mode non-stop. You’ll need down-time and you’ll need coaching rates that allow for that.
Many of your clients will understand this perfectly and not resent you for it. Yet, there will always be people who think that you “owe” them and who will contact you to let you know that what you are charging is wrong. According to them, your Highly Sensitive coaching rates should be on par with what they want to pay, not what is reasonable for you.
By the way, this can also happen if you live in a western country and have a few clients overseas who make a good local income, but have a much lower cost of living (and hence make less money than you do). They may expect you to lower your rates because they are used to paying x, y, z locally. Yet, you need to base your rates based on your cost of living, not theirs.
The Compassion Trap in Setting Your Highly Sensitive Coaching Rates
As a Highly Sensitive business owner you need to balance compassion for others, with compassion for your yourself and your work. This can be tricky to say the least.
I’ll be the first to admit that I get accused of being “not very empathic” from time to time when it comes to confronting someone on an issue that needs confronting.
Being a caring person doesn’t mean you always give people what they want. It also doesn’t mean you always make everyone feel good. When people are stressed, they can be unreasonable and only see the “me me me” side of things. They are suffering, and therefore you should bend over backwards to accomodate them. Not so.
Besides, just making someone feel better to make them feel better does not actually serve them.You’ll find that much of the time, healthy boundaries serve everyone involved. It doesn’t actually pit you against your clients.
To have a healthy coaching business and be happy sensitive and self-employed, you need to strike a good balance between what you provide for others and what you get back. What you get back is basically money.
I know you might want to add some things to the list, like: fulfillment, kindness, appreciation etc. And those are all good things BUT you can’t count on them, and I don’t believe you should want to count on them.
The Lure of the Bare Minimum Coaching Contract (“I just want to help!”)
Too many caring providers start working with a client for a kind of bare minimum contract (minimal money, maximal service, and minimal commitment from the client). This radically lowers your chances of being able to help someone.
It’s great that you care, but your client will also need to care about the process. If you start off with minimal commitment from their end, then you’ll need to find a way to make them step up as you go along. This is much harder than starting the coaching relationship right.
Your highly sensitive coaching rates, need to be part of your overal coaching strategies. The money is not separate from the help you give people. What you charge is part of the healing environment you create for your clients.
More times than not, someone’s ability to pay*, is directly proportional to their ability to heal. Not always, but often their issues around money, will carry over into their issues around healing. Sadly, you can’t help everyone and if you try, you will likely end up exhausted, burned out and needing healing yourself.
*I’m talking about regular rates here, not celebrity coaches who charge $10,000 per session etc. Obviously, most of us can’t afford that no matter how willing we are to heal.
Your Coaching Clients Will Resist You: Count on it
If you’re in the business of helping people heal and transform, then you are in the business of resistance. Your clients will resist you. They will get stuck. They will get upset. Not all of them. Not all the time. Yet, if you are counting on kindness and satisfaction, to balance out a lack of financial compensation, then you’re doing everyone a disservice.
Coaching is a process with many twists and turns. It comes with a lot of challenges. You can’t predict how things will go when you start working with a client. Your client can’t predict how things will go when they start working with you. There is no way they can predict the emotions and struggles that will surface as you work through the problem they came to you for.
Your Highly Sensitive coaching rates need to create a buffer for the twists and turns. They need to create a container for your client to be able to have their experiences.
For empaths, this is doubly true. Chances are, there will be many times when you can sense what’s going on with your clients outside of their usual session time. Reaching out to them with email support when you sense they are struggling, is a wonderful service to provide. Yet, if you’re not careful, and your rates have not accounted for this, you can end up overwhelmed, exhausted and resentful.
My Highly Sensitive Coaching Rates Include Bad Client Behaviour
You need to charge a rate that allows for your clients to behave badly from time to time.Click to tweet
I think your highly sensitive coaching rates should account for bad client behaviour too. Why? So that, when they are stressed / unreasonable / don’t follow through / don’t want to hear you… you still get paid well. You still feel appreciated based on what you are being paid. This is really important.
It’s much easier to be o.k. with someone acting out when your coaching rate “covers” that. It’s much harder when you have a “sympathy” rate that expects your clients to be perfect angels all the time.
The money covers some of the lashing out you’ll need to deal with (whether it’s bold and outright, passive aggressive, or in the form of unnecessary complications).
Let’s just say, when I hire a coach or therapist to help me with something big and meaningful, I want them to build in some space for me to be moody and unreasonable. Making important changes in your life means your buttons get pushed.
The more you create a safe space for your clients, the safer they will feel to unleash their fear and frustration. That is a good thing. But it’s not the same as dealing with the “perfect student” who never makes a fuss. When you charge the right rates, it compensates for all of that. You don’t feel grumpy.
Compare that to what it’s like when you basically gave someone a lower rate in exchange for expected kindness and good behaviour which you didn’t get.
Sympathy rates come with all kinds of strings attached. You don’t want to offer that to clients. You want them to pay you a rate that functions like a real ticket to entrance. They pay you that much and they can really be themselves with you, ask you all kinds of questions, have an emotional meltdown, request explanations in three-fold… it’s all included.
An Example of how Healthy Coaching Rates Change Lives for the Better
I currently have a client who was abandoned by previous therapists. They considered her “too difficult”. I’ll readily admit, for a crucial while, she was one of my toughest clients. But, I am up for a challenge, and because she paid me a healthy rate for sessions, I felt well compensated even during sessions that were far from peachy. Basically, it allowed both of us to hang in there and get to the other side of the woods in one piece.
She wasn’t paying me peanuts and she wasn’t a charity case. She was truly contributing to my livelihood, and as a result, I could really invest energy and attention into sessions with her.
If my Highly Sensitive coaching rates had been half of what they are, I would have felt resentful and probably not wanted to continue doing sessions. That would have meant that she wouldn’t have gotten the help that she needed. She had tried and been rejected so many times, do you see how crucial this is?
It’s not her fault that she behaved the way she did. She had a complicated painful history and a sensitivity to energy that few people really understand. Yet, had I only focused on that trauma and treated her like a victim, I would have walked out on her:
“Poor you, here, let me give give give” is too exhausting a stance to take, and it’s disempowering too.Click to tweet
Instead, I treated her as a competent person, able and willing to pay for the help she needed and quite aware that she was no easy case. We could both be honest about that.
It paid off. She got to the other side of the resistance that she’d been struggling with for years, a lifetime even. It took a while to get that ball rolling, but now she can keep it rolling on her own.
What About Assholes Who Want You to Coach Them?
Seriously, it happens.
Of course, all of what I’m saying here does not cover outright assholes. If you know of an asshole who wants to work with you, I highly recommend thinking twice and if you do proceed to charge a special asshole rate.
This asshole rate covers the costs of all the extra massages and time off you’ll need to recuperate from the abuse. I’m serious.
It might be worth it. Then again, assholes being assholes (they want to get the most and give the least), if you actually charge them what it would truly cost you to work with them, chances are they’ll be the one to say “no thanks”, which is perfect too.
About the Video Below
Anyhoo. Below is a video in which I unravel a complaint that I received about pricing for one of my programmes. I decided to share this one because the email is just so nifty and it is sure to push so many Kind Businessowner Buttons.
I don’t want you to reflexively go into “give more” mode just because someone insinuates that you are unkind, unreasonable and “wrong” for doing what you do in the way you do it. So I am sharing my “unraveling” thoughts on this and offering a different perspective.
Towards the end, I’m also including thoughts for those who feel like they’re always on the wrong side of poverty and can’t have what they need.
- If you’re struggling with negative feedback (you can’t seem to let it roll off your back, no matter how hard you try)
- If you have a big heart and tend to over-give to clients and get depleted
- If overal you feel that you’re on the right track with your work, but would like to feel more energised and inspired doing it
…then I might be able to really help. You can find the services I offer to Highly Sensitive self-employed pioneers here.