I have a client who wants to hang out and have me over to her house all the time. She also texts me all the time, with non-related personal training stuff, and wants to take me out to eat for special occasions.
I told her that she doesn’t need to do that for me. I try to limit my texts to her now because I did go to her house 2-3 times before to be nice to her and have dinner. But it is weird because no one else is at her house and she is 45 years older than me, not friend age!
I am a straight woman, just 25 years old, but it just doesn’t seem like a good idea anymore—I was trying to be nice but I believe she thinks I am her long lost granddaughter (or worse).
I don’t want to be friends, just have a good client to trainer relationship and she seems to think I am to be her best friend. How do I tell her kindly that she needs to stop. Is there a code of ethics that specifies this, something sort of “excuse” as to not offend her—or is that not possible? I tried to be nice and kind by changing the subject when she asks me over, or say no thanks “you do not need to do that for me—etc., ” but she is taking it way too far with texts/dinner/always wanting me to come over.
Suggestions on how professionally tell her to stop or is there a code of ethics that I can use to tell her she has to stop?
Hello No Name,
I can appreciate why you want to remain anonymous. Your situation is truly very challenging.
Before I offer a suggestion, here is what I understand. The individual you are training is 70 years old. This tells me a lot. It tells me that she has loads of life experience and likely has motives for getting for pally wally with you. The motives don’t necessarily have to be negative. All I am saying that this is a person who has considerably more life experience than you.
I don’t know if she is divorced, has children or even grandchildren for that matter. For me I would question, after all these years of living on this earth, where are her friends.
Because of her age, it is quite possible that she has lost friends in death or even a husband.
However, here is how I would approach it.
I am of the opinion that this will not be the first time someone has told her “No. I am unable.” and I would then graciously say thank you for the invitation. From that point on I would continue to say No and graciously say thank you for the invitation.
I wouldn’t give any explanations as to why I am unable to do whatever the request is. However, if your gut feeling is telling you not to do something you should honor your gut feeling.
She’s a big girl. She’ll get over it.
You are certainly in an unusual situation. I assume you want to keep this lady as a client.
Joanne certainly has a point when she asks where her friends are. Unfortunately, some people do not have friends, and there is reason to believe that she drives away people with her – I assume – well-intentioned invitations.
You probably accepted some invitations initially which opened the door for her. From here on, you have to say ‘No, thank you’ without further explanation. Should she ask you why you no longer have time, be honest that you are not comfortable with this evolving relationship.
No, there is no code of ethics for this case behind which to hide. But be compassionate with her; it is possible that you are the only person she interacts with.
Ultimately it’s up to you. I have clients invite me places all the time, sometimes I go, sometimes I say no and don’t feel obigated to say why.
People want connections
Possibly you can suggest other activities to your client that she may enjoy.
It sounds like she is lonely.
I think it’s important to be professional from the first moment on.
You are a young trainer, use this as an experience to look back on.
There are great answers here for you and I agree with them. You are not responsible for her reaction to your declining. Say no gracefully and thats it. You do not owe her an explanation. Moving on from this, my suggestion would be to keep your boundaries tight with clients. If a friendship develops after a while, fine, but at the beginning it would be more professional of you to decline until you learned more about the person, then if you decided to create a friendship, it would be more comfortable.
Hi. I have found myself in the situation where a client has befriended me and it works, and in others where it does not. Your situation certainly sounds like it fits in the ‘it doesn’t work’ category. Your client sounds lonely and starving for attention. But, as her trainer, and more importantly as someone who is uncomfortable with the level of attention that she is heaping on you, I think that you are correct in wanting to stop this sooner rather than later.
I’m a person who tends to deal directly with a situation. My advice would be to take on this uncomfortable conversation head-on. Sure, it might mean that this particular client-trainer relationship will come to an end and that would be unfortunate, but ultimately if you or she or both of you are uncomfortable under the existing professional relationship, then this situation truly has no long-term prospects anyway.
I would, in a gentle way of course, tell her that ethically you don’t think that it’s a good idea to socialize with your clients (if that’s how you feel) and that it is not a personal decision but a professional one. If she refuses to understand or comply, then you may need to terminate this relationship.
I hope that this helps you in some way. Good luck!