Some trainers complain about how clients treat them: frequent cancellations, late payments, poor attitude during sessions, tardiness and inappropriate behavior.

The solution lies in taking the focus off the clients. And although it can be tricky, evaluate how you are teaching them to treat you.

First, let’s see what the clients see:

Arriving late? The clients see a trainer who doesn’t respect their time. Dressed unprofessionally? The clients see a trainer who doesn’t take training seriously. Conversations stray grossly off-topic? The clients suspect the trainer doesn’t value their investment and that they don’t have a responsibility to stay focused either. Gossiping? The clients wonder if their own life details won’t be kept private. In these examples, the trainer is unintentionally teaching clients that a professional relationship is not always given or expected. The unfortunate side effect (in addition to poor retention and missed opportunity) is that clients question their obligations.

As a society, we respect individuals who are routinely fair, clear and respectful. In my book, top-notch trainers behave in a respectful and consistent manner with all clients at all times. The key to garnering respect from clients (the solution to all of the problems above) is to always be respectful in your communication.

Some problems are tougher: late payments, price-point criticism and inappropriate client behavior or boundary crossing.

The solution principle is the same: It is your responsibility to “teach people how to treat you.” In these scenarios, it can be a bit more complicated. In some way (again, unintentionally), the trainer has taught clients that such behavior is acceptable. Late payments? The trainer did not craft, clearly explain and consistently enforce billing policies with every client. Price-point objections? The trainer may question his or her own rates of service. Time spent quantifying the trainer’s value and expertise can build a trainer’s confidence. Market research in their field can empower trainers to respectfully respond to pricing criticism with concrete explanation. Inappropriate client behavior? A trainer might worry about losing the income and avoid addressing the problem directly. Or worse, trainers may have initially opened the door with inappropriate behavior themselves. The solution here is to have a separate conversation and restart. Begin the training process again with a new understanding of what is acceptable and enforce it.

Each of these issues is a springboard for an entire article in itself, but for this discussion, I ask you to focus on the fact that clients are learning from you how you want to be treated. My best advice is to be clear about the kind of experience you want to have when you show up for work everyday and then be relentless in your consistency of respectful behavior. Clients will happily reciprocate, and everyone will have a more successful experience in the end.