All good things must come to an end. And so all coaching relationships will eventually end. This article will show you the right way to end the relationship so everyone feels good.

I am a business coach and I’ve hired business and life coaches to work with me, so I’ve seen the story from both sides.

Let’s look at why you’d want to fire a coach.

1.    The project has ended. For example, you wanted to learn how to acquire new sales skills. You learned them. You are happy. The coach is happy. The project is over. There shouldn’t be any surprises there.

2.    The defined period of time is over. Let’s say you sign up for a year-long program and the year is over. The coach will probably ask if you want to continue. You can decide if you want to. If not, let the coach know that you won’t be continuing. That’s just polite. You don’t want to receive a series of emails asking you to renew and he doesn’t want to see the emails unanswered. End on a positive note.

3.    In an open-ended coaching relationship with no defined end, you might decide after three sessions or nine sessions that you’ve gotten all you are going to get from this relationship. Things might have started off well and then plateaued and then you feel like no progress is being made. In this case, you should first tell the coach your thoughts and feelings to see if there is something she can do to add more value to your relationship. If not, then it is time to leave. Chances are, she knew the relationship was running out of steam as well and probably welcomed the fact you brought up the question of leaving. However, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water. You might want to alter the relationship so that you check in with the coach every three months, or so for a tune up. After all, you had a good thing going for a good period of time. That added value can help you in future when you get stuck or reach your own plateau. Just like piano that gets tuned every season, you might need to get tuned again. It’s better to do it with a coach that you have a history with than to explain your story to someone new.

4.    Bad fit. While the first three items on this list dealt with the time of the relationship, this one deals with the “feel” of the relationship. You might find quickly that your personality doesn’t mesh with the coach’s. This isn’t anyone’s fault. That’s okay. We’re all individuals and we have our likes and dislikes. We are entitled to our preferences. In this case, let the coach know that you don’t think this relationship will work out and part your ways. It’s okay to use email if you think you’d wimp out in a phone meeting. Chances are the coach knows it as well.

Just like in any relationship, it is nice to end a coaching relationship on a positive note. I’d suggest you take these steps.

1.    Let the coach know well in advance of the meeting that you want to end the relationship. Don’t call or email the day of the event and say you have a flat tire. Be an adult. Don’t make up fake excuses. The coach needs to resell that time block and she can’t do it if you give 30 minutes notice. You wouldn’t want your clients to do this to you, so don’t do it to your vendors.
2.    If you feel comfortable, tell the coach why you are leaving. Some things can be repaired. Some things can’t. See if the coach can suggest a repair. For example, you might be low on money. The coach might be willing to charge less, meet with you less often, or enroll you in a group program that is less expensive. If you feel you’ve plateaued, the coach might suggest a different set of tactics to help get unstuck. If you need to learn a new set of skills, you might be pleasantly surprised to find the coach you like actually can help you in that area, or could recommend a trusted colleague for you.
3.    If it is all right with you, end the relationship with positive comments, like “I learned a lot,” or “You helped me get over this hurdle.” Making a person feel good with sincere compliments is always a good tactic. If you didn’t get anything from the sessions, then don’t lie and say you did. The coach will ask for a testimonial since she thinks you are happy.
4.    If there is a negative reason to stop, i.e. you don’t like their personality, their punctuality, their working style, their accent, or anything else that can’t be changed, you are better off not bringing it up. If it’s a bad fit, it’s a bad fit. Move on.

If you follow these tips, you might lose a coach but gain a friend.

Publicity thought leader Dan Janal coaches entrepreneurs and small business on how to turn their publicity into profits with individual and group coaching sessions. For information go to