Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Life Coach Needs to Stop Giving Advice for Free

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a professional life coach. I help clients sort out their problems and make smarter choices. So far, it’s been going well. I mainly get clients through word of mouth.

The one thing that I haven’t figured out is how to get my friends and family to pay for my services. It’s one thing to give a little advice here and there, but several people in my life go so far as to call me and to schedule time to pick my brain without ever considering that they should pay for my services. Meanwhile, they will pay for all kinds of other services, such as manicures, the hairdresser and all kinds of other beauty services. I don’t know why they should be more valuable than the services I offer. What can I do? -- Time to Charge

DEAR TIME TO CHARGE: Family members and friends often take loved ones for granted without meaning to. They are likely so accustomed to you doling out advice that it hasn’t occurred to them that they should pay. It can be difficult getting them to pay even after you make them aware of their behavior.

One way to create boundaries around your work is to let them know that this is how you earn a living. Offer to “give” a half-hour of free advice. Any professional counseling time after that you can offer to them at a friends-and-family discount. In this way, you let them know what your standard fees are and what you are willing to offer them. If they balk, stop giving them advice. Tell them you just want to hang out and enjoy each other’s company and not have to work. Then, stick to it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter just got injured and had to get 10 stitches in her leg. She has crutches and should heal fully. Her dilemma is that she is planning to go to an all-day outdoor concert in a couple of days. She is not supposed to bend her knee so that she doesn’t break the stitches. I don’t think going to a concert where she will be on her feet for many hours is smart. The nurse said she should be fine and able to attend, but I think it’s too much. How do you think I should handle this? -- The Right Thing

DEAR THE RIGHT THING: Take it one day at a time. Since the nurse gave her clearance, at least you have one medical professional saying it should be OK. But you will be with your daughter and can see how she is mending. Look at her wound each day as you dress it.

At the same time, do more research on the location of the concert. How much seating is there? Which acts does she really want to see? You may want to limit how long she will be at the concert, if you let her attend at all. As upset as your daughter may be, do not let her attend if you are concerned that she will injure herself again. You have to be the parent in this scenario and do what’s safe for your child.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)