Act with Courage

In this Q and A column, Communications Coach Vera Held explores with Good News Toronto readers important aspects of courage that surface in our personal and professional lives.


Q: I’m a personal trainer. My client “Henry” is not making progress and he can only afford to train with me once a week. He’s at the gym five days a week but only walks on the track. He has Sleep Apnea, must use a mask to sleep, and his eating habits are poor.  I’m so frustrated that he’s not making progress. And he’s making me look bad to my other clients and colleagues.


A:   Ahhh. The frustrations of a coach, don’t I know them well. In addition to making you look bad to others, the greater problem is that he’s making you feel unsuccessful. Change is the only constant we have and this chap doesn’t want to change. He’s stuck. Your challenge is to continue to provide a top-quality training program, direct him to a nutritionist, and be supportive. You also need to adjust your mindset and accept the fact that he truly might be unable to really progress. He is in control of his health and physical fitness goals – or lack of them. So be fair to yourself and keep your frustration checked. Having realistic expectations of what Henry will accomplish will free up your head and give you extra energy to devote to yourself and your other clients. The proverb, “You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink,” certainly applies.


Q: One of my staff had a baby who was in and out of hospital for several months. I had no idea until one of my spies (my executive assistant who keeps her ear to the ground) told me. I immediately offered him flexible work hours. He told me he was a private man and that’s why he hadn’t asked for help. He’s also not Canadian-born and in his culture men do not attend doctor appointments with their wives.


A: Not only did you automatically accommodate your employee’s need for flexible work hours without him requesting help but you are one culture-savvy boss. In multicultural Canada a smart boss makes the time to learn about the cultural backgrounds of his or her staff and parlays this to their works styles, habits, attitudes, and needs for community and autonomy. Bravo. Keep up the great work.


Q: I was dismissed for “personality issues.” They told me nothing verbally or in writing. What should I do?


A:   If you are looking to possible “Wrongful Dismissal,” you need to contact an employment lawyer to discuss how to best retrieve the data from your previous employer. This is the first step: to determine what, in your employer’s eyes, you did wrong.   “Personality Issues” could mean anything from you don’t get along with your boss and colleagues and you impede interdepartmental workflow to poor communication and inappropriate behaviours such as bullying, sarcasm, showing disrespect for your co-workers, interacting with anger, and inciting problems rather than solving them. The list is vast, so first narrow down why you got fired. Your lawyer will then guide you on next steps. Good luck.


Vera Held

Vera Held

Vera Held is a coach, facilitator, speaker, writer, PR consultant and the author of business best-seller How Not to Take it Personally. Send your tough workplace questions to Vera at
Vera Held

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