7 October 2022

To Have a Coach, or Not, That is the Question? Typical Coaching Objections

Steve Halsall

Red Tiger Consulting


It is our role as professional coaches to manage expectations on what coaching is, what it isn’t, and what the client (coachee) expects to achieve from coaching. Ultimately, it is all about the client embracing the coaching process and for the coach and client to co-create an environment conducive to deep thinking in order to drive positive change or outcome for the client.

Coaching isn’t for everyone, and whilst many people have found great success in having a coach, there will always be the occasional horror story where blame on an ‘unsuccessful’ outcome is either put on the coachee or the coach. Coaching success typically comes from when the coach or coachee are nicely synced in achieving a specific objective or wider goal for the coachee. Coaching is not therapy, although it can be extremely therapeutic.

Our most experienced Coach, Steph, and I sat down and discussed typical objections to coaching. We have divided them into two distinct types: Practical and Emotional. This blog attempts to dissect and challenge/counter these objections. If you do have concerns or objections then I would invite you to dig a little deeper in order to assess their validity.

Before we dive into the detail I would like to share two occasions where I have benefited from outside support in order to achieve specific personal goals. The first was in the run up to my 40th birthday and I decided that having a personal trainer would help me achieve my fitness goals. This was the first time I have ever paid anyone to support me. Of course, anyone can get a book on fitness or look up YouTube videos on how to get fit, but I needed a person to hold me accountable and push me towards my objectives.

This worked for me. My PT kept our sessions fun and engaging, and the result was I over-achieved on my goals. I spent a lot of money over the course of my sessions with them and it was certainly not money wasted. It is very hard to put a value on how getting fit made me feel.

The second was my first real experience of being coached by my wonderful cohort on the recent Barefoot course (for learning on the course please refer to my earlier blogs, Stepping Outside of Your Comfort Zone, and What Coaching Is and Isn’t). Every week we would get an opportunity to be coached and there was a range of personal and professional challenges I brought to these sessions. Every single session I managed to further my thinking and progress towards achieving my desired outcome.

Practical Objections

There are three main practical objections to having a coach, which we summarise as follows:


Time is the most popular objection. People are too busy – which is interesting as Coaching can be used to drive productivity and free up people’s time! It is very common for self-development to be skipped when people are overworked and stretched. Coaching clients in this situation are often the ones who have the most to gain from coaching. Early coaching intervention can be so beneficial to avoid it developing into a critical situation. I see Coaching like throwing the person a lifebuoy ring if they are struggling to stay afloat (coaches love a metaphor!). If the client refuses to take the ring then they will usually tire, lose energy, and potentially drown!

The objection could also be driven by a client’s perception of time required. Coaching doesn’t need to be time consuming. It is amazing how much value can be gained from a single 30-minute coaching session. One-to-one Coaching sessions typically vary between 30-90 minutes in length. Frequency can also vary depending on need – from weekly, to bi-weekly, to monthly and beyond.


Coaching does cost money but I would argue it’s about what value you put on any desired outcomes. Questions I would invite you to answer at this stage are:

  • Justification and affordability: have you thought that you can’t currently justify the cost at this stage (so other things take priority for you), or do you not have the funds to afford it regardless?
  • Perceived versus actual cost: have you been quotes a price for a coaching engagement or are you making assumptions about the cost based on prior engagements or an impression you get from others?
  • Who pays: are you assuming that it is you that foots the bill? If the coaching requirement will benefit your development in a work environment or you are in an at-risk situation it is likely that your employer may pay. They often have budget for staff development and can potentially fund this coaching investment in you. It’s certainly worth asking the question if it is something that you are happy to do through your employer.

Coaching can seem costly, particularly is you calculate the fees as an hourly rate (total fee divided by the hours of face-to-face time). I would argue against this as it is not a true reflection of the rate. It is worth bearing in mind that the coach has a number of additional overheads to consider, notably:

  • The chemistry session – this is typically between 30-45 minutes and it’s an opportunity for the coach and the client to determine whether they are suitable to work together. These are usually free.
  • In between session preparation – this is time spent by the coach preparing for the session. This can include planning any methods or models, reviewing notes in advance and time after the session for reflection (how did the session go, is there anything you would do differently next time?), to document any ideas for subsequent sessions and (if agreed) communicate any outcomes/actions to the client. Personally, this adds another hour for every hour coached.
  • Email/message contact between the coach and client between sessions (usually offered and if it isn’t, feel free to ask if it’s something you would find useful).
  • Additional services – you may benefit from other services such as psychometric/personality tests which usually incur additional cost.
  • Cost of being a professional accredited coach – this includes course fees, ongoing training/CPD, coaching supervision (all coaches should seek regular supervision). It is suggested that an hour of supervision is required for every 10-20 face-to-face client coaching hours. Professional membership fees (in my case the International Coaching Federation), professional indemnity/public liability insurance, and VAT (if VAT registered).

If immediate affordability is an issue, there may be the option to spread the payments, rather than paying completely up front.


If the coaching engagement is in person, then there needs to be two individuals who can be in the same physical place at the same time. This may prove to be challenging, particularly if here is significant travel time between the coach and the coachee.

This is becoming less of an issue now that online or hybrid coaching is increasingly common. Coaches will always adapt to suit the coachee in terms of how they coach/would prefer to be coached. The point here is that location (home, office, enclosed or open public space) and mode of communication (in person, text, email, via a phone or video call) can vary depending on personal preference.

Emotional Objections

We have identified a number of ’emotional’ objections which may prevent potential coachees from getting coaching support.

Fear of being judged

This is about thinking that having outside help is a weakness or some sort of admission of failure. Thankfully this is changing, and we are becoming more open personally and happy to utilise external support when needed. Self-care is increasingly important and is seen as a conscious developmental action. Coaching can be wrongly perceived as remediation or an intervention; one of the principal premises of being a coach is that “our clients (coachees) aren’t broken and don’t need fixing”. Coaching can also enable the client to become more self-sufficient

Fear of opening up

Let’s face it, talking about stuff can be very difficult – particularly to someone who you feel doesn’t really know you. Facing truth can be challenging and sometimes the best coaching is delivered where the client steps into some discomfort – this is often when the best enlightenment can happen. A coach’s role is to shine a light into their clients’ minds, which can sometimes be uncomfortable.

Our coaches at Red Tiger often talk about high support, high challenge in their engagements but the skill is in the coach being able to dial up or dial down this challenge. The other real benefit of using a coach is that they will treasure what you say, without judgement or bias (known as unconditional positive regard) – as adults this is a very rare space to be in and very difficult to achieve through speaking to friends, family, work colleagues or partners.

Worried about trust and building a rapport

This is around being able to tell a ‘stranger’ all your stuff, to wash your dirty laundry (metaphors again!). A reputable coach will use the chemistry session to build that trusting, confidential environment and seek to build a rapport with the client over the first few sessions. If you as a coachee don’t feel the rapport then the relationship may not work. Your coach should also be clear about confidentiality and ethics. All our coaches work under the strictest confidence and adhere to ICF’s Code of Ethics.

Externally influenced negative perception of coaching

In any walk of life negative experience is always amplified and remembered. Some people may have formed an indirect negative opinion of coaching based on something they have read or heard.  All we can say to that is you won’t truly know until you have tried it for yourself.

Not in the right head space to embrace coaching

The client has to be right head space to do it (which overlaps with the final bullet below). For example if the client has a serious underlying mental health issue then there could be a requirement to pause coaching until specialist support is found to improve their mental health.

Not open, willing, or committed to change

The client has to be open to exploring the issue and part of that is around being open to plan for change. This could result in having to change beliefs (often limiting) or behaviours in order to achieve the desired results which can be particularly hard if negative behaviours are habitual or ingrained. The main question we ask with clients in this predicament is how much do you really want to work smarter not harder, be more productive or be more satisfied?

Hopefully this blog has given you a lot of food for thought and if you have considered coaching before but not followed through we are very interested to hear of your reasons why.

Think About the ROI

It would be remiss of us to not talk about the ROI of coaching. This return on your/your company’s investment could be seen as financial – in terms of getting the next promotion or pay rise, or exceeding your targets in order to receive a bonus.  It could be about supporting you after redundancy to find a new role. Coaching has a role to play in supporting these objectives.

The ROI could also be non-financial – think about the benefit of improved motivation, less stress, increased engagement and how it drives your performance. It may also be about feeling better about yourself. In that respect coaching is very similar to other health and beauty services – from being a gym member to having a spa day – it is an investment in yourself to improve how you perform/look/feel. In our experience all our coaching clients have got tremendous value out of their coaching – check out our testimonials for evidence.

After evaluating any objections I would also invite you to think about the following questions, where appropriate: How do you rate your personal or professional happiness? What value do you put on your health (emotional, spiritual and physical)? How much do you value having better relationships or improved career progression or less stress?

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Published by Steve Halsall

Steve is the founder of Red Tiger Consulting. He has worked in Location Planning for over 20 years – both on the consultancy side and client side. His passion is building successful teams that evolve their capability (skills, software and data) to meet the ever changing requirements of analysis. In his spare time he is mainly kept busy with his two children, falling in and out of love with Liverpool FC and at some point he wants to re-start his golfing ‘career’.


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