Coaching Friends Without Losing The Friendship

Coach FEATURE: Ruchi Parekh | The Launchpad
February 2, 2022
February Tools Clinic 2022
Monthly Tools Clinic 1: What Makes My Heart Sing Exercise (Feb 2022)
February 3, 2022

Coaching Friends Without Losing The Friendship

Have you ever had a friend call you and ask you for help?

Coaching help?

And as hard as you try…

…your coaching doesn’t work?

Why didn’t your amazing coaching ‘work’ on your friend?

It probably has nothing to do with…

  • Your coaching skills
  • Your friend being ‘uncoachable
  • Your friend’s circumstances

The reason I can say this with such confidence?

The same thing happened to me…

…and I’m no slouch with my coaching skills.

A friend of mine, Amy, called me 2 weeks ago…

“I could really use some accountability coaching…

…would you be willing to help me?”

Since Amy is such a good friend, I agree.

“But,” … I tell her, “I am about to go into a meeting…

…can you call me at noon when I have a break?”

Amy replies, “That would be great! Thank you!”

Noon comes and goes.

She doesn’t call.

(proving that she NEEDS accountability coaching)

2 weeks later…

…Amy calls again.

Amy still wants help

…and now I have a bit of time.

So we talk…

…but the conversation isn’t going anywhere.

Now I’m feeling like coaching Amy is a waste of time.

Now I’m feeling like I can’t coach her AT ALL…


Looking back on it now… I realize the simple reason

Because I never enrolled her into coaching with me.

It wasn’t her fault…

It wasn’t a lack of coaching skills on my part…

I didn’t ENROLL her.

I lowered my own standards.

I was undisciplined, and abandoned my own process.

And THAT’S why Amy missed out on the magic of coaching.

Because the magic of coaching only happens if a client ENROLLS into coaching.

Why does enrollment ‘release the magic’ in coaching?

ENROLLMENT suggests that your client is pretty clear about their goals.

Most clients won’t enroll into coaching if they don’t have anything at stake.

Not a lot of people are spending thousands of dollars on coaching while saying “I don’t really know what I want.”

Enrolled clients know WHY they want to achieve their goals.

Once your client enrolls in coaching, you can be pretty sure they care a lot about where the coaching conversation is going

…because they want it to lead to their dreams coming true.

Enrolled clients know WHY they want to achieve their goals.”

ENROLLMENT means your client is committed.

People don’t enroll into things they’re not committed to.

And, without commitment, your client will:

  • Go numb
  • Fall asleep
  • Get defensive
  • Turn victim
  • Run away
  • Quit and forget to tell you

(You’ve probably seen a few of these behaviors yourself.)

By the way, enrollment generally means that you have a signed contract between you.

  • You don’t see a lot of university students enrolled in courses where there wasn’t SOME paperwork to codify the arrangement.
  • You don’t see a lot of people enrolling in government services where there weren’t substantial agreements, waivers, etc.

Why would coaching be any different?

Bottom line…

ANYTHING you’re serious about, you put in writing.

ANYTHING you’re committed to, you eventually put in writing.

So, remember, for your client’s sake:


ENROLLMENT means your client has paid you.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Put your money where your mouth is.”?

Payment is like an extra layer of commitment.

Payment means your client has something tangible to lose if they decide not to participate.

Think: “flesh in the game”

I can’t make my clients show up for their calls, but clients are much more likely to show up if they feel they paid for something

…because they have something to lose.


ENROLLMENT means your client understands their role.

It’s really hard to enroll in something when you don’t know your part in the game.

Your client’s roles should be listed in the contract:

  • Play full out
  • Show up for calls
  • Discuss issues directly with you
  • Follow through on commitments
  • Bring results and valuable focuses to sessions
  • Be prepared to get coaching

…and on and on.

When your client signs their enrollment contract, they should have to read and agree to EVERYTHING involved in their side of the coaching relationship.

Only then do you know you’ve got their FULL agreement to what’s involved in coaching.

ENROLLMENT means your client understands YOUR role.

My clients get my time, expertise, and commitment to help them become the person who can achieve their goals, navigate obstacles, and celebrate their wins.

Most importantly, my client’s know what NOT to expect from me because it’s NOT part of my role.

This sets them up for success because they’re not hoping for extra babysitting from me.

They’ll pull their weight because they understand I’m not “doing it all” for them.

When you ENROLL a friend into coaching…

You STOP being their friend

…and START being their coach.

(at least during the coaching sessions)

Your friend STOPS being your friend…

…and STARTS being your client.

(at least during the coaching sessions)

Not a lot of friends (or coaches) are willing to do that.

In some ways, coaching is the OPPOSITE of a typical friendship.

Coaching relationships vs friendships

Friendships are usually about…

  • hanging out…
  • feeling good…
  • connecting.

Trying to turn that friendship into a coaching relationship?

That coaching relationship requires…

  • discipline
  • standards
  • an environment that creates breakthrough results

That’s hard enough for most coaches with their ‘non-friend’ clients…

…and it’s even harder with friends.

You might be thinking…

“But I can separate it.”

Yes…you can separate it.

But when you’re drawing that line with a friend…

…it might feel awkward or distant.


Because your friends expect you to be empathetic

…to be on their side

…and to jump into their drama and cry, laugh, or scream with them.

In other words…

Your friends want you to join them in the full experience of their life.

The ups…

…and downs.

Your friends don’t expect you to stand on the sidelines.

Your friends don’t expect you to make them analyze how their limiting beliefs are keeping them from happiness.

Your friends don’t expect you to put 100% of the responsibility in their hands.

In the context of friendship alone…

Your friends expect you to connect with them.

Your friends expect you to respond with unconditional acceptance.

How to Build a Profitable Coaching Business in 30 Days VIDEO COURSE

If you suddenly fail to give your friends what they expect

…the friendship will suffer.

“So Colette…

…you’re telling me the reason coaching friends doesn’t work…

… is that they’re not enrolled?

What if I enroll my friends into coaching?

Should I make them pay to talk with me?

Shouldn’t I just coach them because they’re my friend?”

That is entirely up to you.

But I’ll share the day I realized that charging a friend for coaching is probably best.

One of my best friends…

(She opened her home to me, providing refuge from the San Diego wildfire evacuations in 2006…)

…INSISTED on paying me.

“Why?” I asked (trying to talk her out of paying me).

How could I charge a friend who practically saved my life…

…just to TALK to her??

I’d feel so guilty… like a taker!

And, I didn’t want to lose her friendship.

But, she won me over with her argument…

“…I want to support your business…

…I would be paying someone else to help me anyway…

…you need to value what you do and charge me…

…you have to treat this like a business, not a hobby.”

I realized she was right.

I realized that my guilt was just protecting me from the discomfort of a disciplined coaching relationship with someone I loved so much.

I realized that I was about to compromise my own coaching (and what was possible for my friend in coaching) in order to preserve the friendship.

So, I let go of my story…

…and I charged her.

But I gave her my ‘Friends & Family’ discount. ?

You may not want to enroll all of your friends into coaching…

…but it doesn’t mean you can’t enroll a friend if coaching is what’s best for them.

You may not want to enroll all of your friends into coaching…but it doesn’t mean you can’t enroll a friend if coaching is what’s best for them.”

There’s nothing wrong with giving your friend that magic that comes with enrolling in coaching.

WARNING: When you’re coaching a friend, avoid these pitfalls:


It’s so easy to get emotionally caught up with your friend’s experience.

As a friend…

…your attachment to your friend affects your ability to be a neutral party.

If your friend isn’t happy…

…you’re likely to suffer with them.

Don’t let that happen, or you’ll lose the ability to fully coach your friend.

Create boundaries about what your role is.

There is a reason why great surgeons don’t operate on their own family members.

They’re just too emotionally involved.


When coaching a friend, it’s easy for either of you to forget your role(s) in the coaching relationship.

Friendship is a strong emotional bond, and those ‘friend feelings’ can easily creep into the coaching conversation… at any time.

Stay vigilant about your roles in the coaching relationship.

Create clear expectations about how coaching is different from your friendship.

Creating this distinction will elevate your friend’s respect for you and your coaching, and open the door to real value from that coaching relationship.


Create boundaries about what your role is.

The tendency is to be lenient or vague with friends when it comes to standards, expectations, and accountability.

Friendship isn’t a military exercise.

But, once you’re in a coaching relationship, the tables turn.

Make sure you create clear expectations about what your friend is responsible for so they take ownership in their progress.

Don’t ‘let up’ if your client plays ‘the friend card’ in an effort to get off the hook.

It should be pretty obvious why coaching friends is fraught with pitfalls and challenges at this point.

That’s why many coaches would rather avoid a coaching relationship with a friend.

But, you can still help your friends without coaching them.

In fact, as a coach, you’re especially equipped to help your friends…

…even OUTSIDE the context of a coaching relationship.

Here’s how you can support your friend without enrolling them into coaching:

Help clarify their goals.

Most people don’t know how to write goals that are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Help your friend become clear about the reason for wanting to achieve their goal, and set a date for achieving it.

Listen without attachment.

This is one of the most difficult aspects of helping a friend.


Because you want what’s best for your friend and for them to avoid pain.

It’s still possible, even in the context of a pure friendship… no coaching required.

Stay in the ‘friend zone’.

Remind yourself that (in this case) you are their friend

…NOT their coach.

Be their cheerleader.

Offer them a shoulder to cry on.

Give them unconditional love.

As a friend, the last thing you want to do is risk your relationship.

Personally, I find power in being the coach throughout my entire life.

I’m willing to face the challenges and consequences of that…

…even with friends.

Now that YOU understand the very real issues involved with coaching someone close to you…

The only question is…

…are YOU going to face those challenges?

Colette “Coaching Everybody” Coiner

Leave a Reply

Skip to toolbar