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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

BY LAURA AMANN

Ending a professional relationship that is also a personal relationship can be tricky. Sometimes the end comes naturally—time is up or the goal is accomplished. But sometimes, a professional relationship ends because styles or expectations don’t mesh. You may like your coach or mentor, but find that you’re not getting what you really need.

Whatever the reason, handle the break in a professional manner. Give advance notice before the final session so that you can complete unfinished business. Be courteous, even if the relationship wasn’t positive. Offer feedback when asked.

“I appreciate clients who tell me what I have done well and what needs to be improved,” says professional coach Rochelle Melander, author of Write-A-Thon. This includes affirming the performance, but also communicating if homework was too overwhelming, the pace felt too fast, or if you didn’t feel pushed far enough.

“It’s really challenging when people just disappear and I don’t know what happened,” says Jodi Helmer, a professional mentor for freelance writers. Let the mentor know if you’ve decided not to freelance anymore, or if life got too busy, or if it just wasn’t a good fit.

Contractual agreements should have a dissolution or break-up clause that allows one or both parties to break the arrangement under normal circumstances. Review your contract thoroughly to ensure there are no penalties for either party if you agree to end the relationship.

Coaches and mentors understand that not everyone works well together, so there is no shame in ending a relationship that isn’t helping you advance. It’s worth taking the time to find a good fit, even if you have to search a couple of options. And consider that sometimes your needs change as your career progresses—a coach who worked well with you five years ago might not match your needs as well now as would a mentor in your field.

There’s plenty more where these tips came from! To read Amann's full guide to working with a writing coach or mentor, pick up a copy of the July/August 2015 Writer’s Digest or download it instantly now.

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