My client hated her Tarot reading (and here’s how I dealt)

Thank you to all who did last weeks Tarot Challenge ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Your insights were enlightening and I wish I had you all sitting beside me the next time I do a tricky reading! This is my follow up to that reading (details have been changed for confidentiality purposes)…

True confession: my last Tarot reading client totally hated her reading.

Here’s another confession….it’s not the first time this has happened!

Not too long ago I did a reading for a friend of a friend. She wanted to ask about a new guy she’d just met. They were going on their first date on Saturday night, three days away, and she was pretty sure he was The One.

We asked the cards “what is the potential of this relationship? What could the relationship be like if they continue dating?”

I pulled three cards and turned then over one by one….The Tower, Five of Cups and Ten of Swords.

It didn’t bode well.

Robin Wood Tarot

And while I almost never say things like this, but I went ahead and said “I don’t think it’s going to work out.”

She looked at me like I’d slapped her and said “but it HAS TO work out. He’s THE ONE and I NEED for this to work out right now.”

She was pissed!

So I said “okay, let’s take a closer look at each card and what it could mean.” I broke down each card individually and all it’s possible meanings – both negative and positive.


The Tower shows that this relationship could shake her to her core and create many changes in her life. Which could be a good thing, but the miserable cards accompanying this one suggest otherwise.

The Five of Cups represents dwelling on what isn't working. If it was surrounded by some neutral or positive cards I would say it symbolizes a need to change one's mindset and look for the good. But since all the cards are dreary, I really struggled to put a positive spin on this one.

The Ten of Swords can signify betrayal, feeling utterly powerless and/or a tendency to think things are worse than they really are. All the cards together seemed to be saying stay away! Run! Run!


The cards were clear as day, but here's the frustrating part:

She was absolutely unwilling to hear anything that didn't support her fantasy that this guy was The One.

In the end I kind of gave up and said "I could be wrong. The cards could be wrong. Perhaps this will work out wonderfully. But this is just what I'm getting from these cards in front of me."

After all, my reading isn't The Last Word and I always encourage my clients to take what I say with a grain of salt.

When it was all said and done she thanked me for the reading, said I'd given her lots to think about and left. But I could tell she felt unsatisfied, like when you go to a restaurant and order french fries and the waiter brings you steamed tofu.

Or when you crash a wedding party only to find out it's a "dry" wedding. Or when Chris Hemsworth only takes his shirt off once, at the very beginning of Thor, and you sit through the rest of yet another boring superhero movie, hoping for a glimpse of ab that never comes. Okay, you get the point.

And nothing feels worse than being the cause of someone else's disappointment.

As a Tarot reader, I want to deliver. I want to give someone the goods, the nitty gritty, the juicy details they've been longing to hear. I don't want to be a wet blanket or a brick of steamed tofu. Noooooo!

But I also don't want to just make up a bunch of happy crap if the cards are saying something else. I don't want to be a Debbie Downer but I also don't want to be dishonest.


So this leads me to two important questions that every Tarot reader will eventually ask:

  1. Is there anything I could have done differently in that reading to avoid disappointing my client?
  2. What do I do if a client doesn't like their reading?

Let's start by tackling question #1

Is there anything I could have done differently?

My biggest mistake was doing a reading that focused heavily on The Future, by asking about the potential of a relationship that didn't even exist yet.

Anytime we focus a reading on the future, we dis-empower ourselves because we assume the future is set in stone and that our actions and thoughts have little influence. And that's crazy!

Some better questions might have been:

  • how can she best prepare for her upcoming date?
  • What does she need to know about this situation?
  • What message does her higher self/guides have for her regarding romance?

These questions would have made it easier to steer the reading in a more empowering direction, even if she got the same three crappy cards.

But even if I did everything right and delivered the perfect reading, she may still have hated it...


What to do if a client doesn't like their reading

Ask yourself this: Was this a bad reading skill-wise? Or did I just not tell my client what she wanted to hear?

Nothing triggers insecurity in a Tarot reader more than an unhappy client, but it's important to distinguish between a genuinely crappy reading and a reading that just didn't mirror your client's hopes.

In my case, I was confident in my reading skills. I knew the reading I gave was solid. But I did wonder....should I have delivered the information in such an upfront fashion? Or should I have been more gentle?

But what if it had been a bad reading skill-wise? Should I have offered her a refund?

Luckily, I've never had a client ask for a refund and I've never felt the need to offer one. But if I did feel like I delivered a terrible reading - and my client seemed unhappy - I wouldn't feel comfortable just sending them on their way.

However, I once read this on a Tarot reader's site: "Tarot readings are free. I charge for my time."

So I think it's up to the reader to do what feels best for them.


Self Care 101

If you're new-ish to reading for others, a bad experience can have a powerful effect on you. Even if you're more experienced, the feeling that your client didn't love their reading can be de-motivating and make you question if you're really fit to be a Tarot reader.

Set an intention: Before each reading I set the intention that whatever comes up during the reading is exactly what that person needs to hear at this time. This allows me to let the reading go once it's over and not think I should have said this or I shouldn't have said that.

Have good boundaries: It's helpful to remind yourself that your role as a Tarot reader is to interpret the cards as best you can and help your client find ideas and solutions. It's NOT your job to fix their problems or tell them what they want to hear.

Learn from your bad experiences: Whenever I'm not happy with how a reading went, I ask myself what I could have done differently (like I did above). This isn't about regret or beating myself up, it's about learning and growing as a reader.

Over to you! Have you ever had an unsatisfied client or a reading you didn't feel great about? What did you do? Tell me in the comments below ๐Ÿ™‚

25 thoughts on “My client hated her Tarot reading (and here’s how I dealt)”

  1. A very tricky situation, to be sure. I have declined to read questions like that. I won’t look at how a marriage is going to go on the eve of the wedding unless the client is having serious doubts already.

    I had one client get upset a few minutes into the reading. She got up and walked out bitching the whole way. 6 weeks later she returned and apologized because “You were telling me things I didn’t want to hear.”

    I advocate honesty, but in as diplomatic a manner as possible. Knowledge is power. I say, “This is the energy around this.” To validate, I grab another deck and see if it offers the same answer.”

  2. I love your tarot teachings, Kate. You have such a sweet, grounding energy. And lots of wisdom. I really believe you did the right thing with the reading and she just wasn’t ready to hear it. I’m actually a bit upset that someone once gave me a positive relationship reading for a man who clearly was very bad for me and I have subsequently broken all contact with! Although I think the reading may have been spot-on and had some warnings hidden deep inside it if I was willing to listen, I would’ve been quite happy to receive something a bit more honest and have broken contact with him sooner. ๐Ÿ™‚ I still have to wonder why I received a positive reading. I believe it was a lovely and sensitive person who gave it to me. Maybe I wasn’t ready to hear what I needed to hear.

    1. Thanks for sharing this, Kathy. You bring up a great point – that while getting a positive reading may have felt great at the time, when you look back you don’t feel good about it. This is a great reminder to all of us who want to focus only on the positive and brush over the negative for fear of upsetting someone.

  3. Hi, Kate.
    What happened afterwards with poor Sarah, – did you ever find out?
    Did she go on a date with her ‘Mr Fright’ eventually, or did she accept your timely ‘Gypsy’s Warning’?
    I’ve always chickened out of reading for other people because of the prospect of being faced with the very same dilemma, as raised in your original blog on this tricky situation.
    With my own readings for myself, I often find the cards do often later match reality, but in a non-literal (or sometimes, even jokey!) way.
    Maybe Mr Fright was just an innocent and harmless, high-rise buildings window-cleaner in his youth, who’d had a regrettable industrial accident (needing the extensive surgery suggested by the Ten of Swords!) and was, forever after, prone to spilling his drink (hinted at by the Five of Cups)?!
    If he struck oil with a personal injury claim for compensation, that might explain his untold wealth, I’m wondering!
    We should be told!
    Thanks so much, all the same, for raising these issues and for broadening out the subtle side of the role of Tarot Reader, with this fascinating diversion.
    I do think it’s important to not go overboard in taking the cards too seriously, don’t you?
    LotsaLuv, anyhow!
    Zoe T.

    1. Hi Zoe,
      I think Sarah was still going to go on the date. I told her to keep me posted but I don’t think she will. I will most likely hear from her in a few months to a year, so probably won’t find out until then. I don’t want to contact her and be nosy, even though I’m curious! And I totally agree – it’s important not to take readings too seriously sometimes ๐Ÿ™‚


  4. Nirmala Edelstein

    Hi Kate,

    The way I see it, the customer was meant to receive this exact reading. Even if she hated it, even if she wants to deny it, it doesn’t matter. The message she needed to hear has been delivered, and now it will sit there in her mind, and even if she goes forth with the relationship, a part of her will be a little bit more guarded than before she began. It seems to me that the dramatic response from the cards is diametrically balancing out the level of “rose-tintedness” that she is experiencing, and it almost seems like the Tower as the first card is the “come back down to earth NOW” shock that she needed to hear before anything else, because SHE asked about the long term potential, so I don’t think it could have been phrased any better, I think you did an AWESOME job, and ultimately, you might have just saved her, long term, even if it doesn’t seem that way right now ๐Ÿ™‚ Lots of love, you’re just great, as always, love your blog!!!

    1. Thank you for this, Nirmala ๐Ÿ™‚ I really liked what you said about the Tower telling her to come back down to earth – that really makes sense and yes, it did seem to be a response to her overly-optimistic stance!

  5. Kate, unfortunately this was a negative spread thru and thru. When u asked our insights a cpl weeks ago I posted “Thank Gods these aren’t my cards!” You were right I keep your integrity and the truth about what u saw. I hate giving negative readings. I am a very sensitive empath so negative readings can literally shake me to the core and make me a nervous wreck. Another thing is, when I first started reading for the “public” and I would get a reading that just absolutely made no sense, it would upset me. And it would stick with me for a while. But then I realized that I would get these readings when reading for skeptics. Ones that sat down with a negative attitude expecting me to be wrong about everything and u know what? I finally came to the cinclusion that they were disrespecting the Tarot so Tarot showed them the same respect. It took a while but when I finally had this epiphany, I became a much more confident reader and if I sense that I am dealing with that type if person now, sometimes I will simply say I can not read for u today. Also when a client is adamant that a card doesn’t make sense, I simply say “remember the card and the meaning. Later it will because hind sight is 20/20.” Usually the answer comes up during the reading anyway and I give them an “ah ha” moment. Another thing I do is I never let a client with a negative reading leave empty handed. Whatever the reading showed that she needed help with, I give them a gift (a stone corresponding with the trouble) cleansed and charged. That definitely softens the blow and gives them hope now that they have an amulet to assist them with their current situation. Sorry so long. Thanks so much Kate! I love the interaction with fellow Spiritual Advisors. While I was relearning the tarot after years off, your Tarot journal saved me! I literally sat down with crayons, colored pencils, markers, ans glitter and made an entire journal that I always ALWAYS have at my side with every single reading I do. Not only for me but to show the querent that what I’m saying is the actual meaning of the cards. Truly is my Tarot bible!

    1. Jackie!
      Thank you so much for your lovely comment ๐Ÿ™‚
      I am truly touched that my Tarot journal has been so helpful for you! That is really so wonderful to hear.
      I like what you said about how if someone doesn’t respect the cards, the reading will be confusing. I’ve noticed something similar, so I think you’re bang on with that. Also love your suggestion of giving the client something to take with them, like a crystal or something to help with whatever came up in the reading – that’s a lovely idea and I hadn’t thought of that ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. The very 1st time I read for the public someone told me I was completely wrong. I froze, but then I said, I hope you can,in time,find something of value in the reading.
    Later, when I read for her sister she told me I was wrong about her sister. Her sister loved her reading and thought it was spot on.
    I think the universe was saying, if you want to read for the public be prepared for crazy and have a sense of humor.

    1. This is a really good point, Kathy. Sometimes what doesn’t make sense (or seems wrong) at first will make sense later. I used to be in a psychic development group and one of the ladies gave me a reading that I thought was so incredibly off….but then I realized weeks later she was actually 100% accurate, I just wasn’t open to seeing it at the time.

  7. Thats why you should say and i say “Are you ready to hear the good, the bad and the ugly”? Because you may not like everything i will say but hopefully you do. If your only for the good i can’t read you . Life isn’t only good otherwise you wouldnt be here right now if it was going great. ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I’m going to use this line as well! I do always say “sometimes u may not get the answers to the area u seek and that’s because the Tarot / Spirit feels there is a more important message for u to hear at this time.” That’s of course for a full tarot spread and if the reading didn’t hone in on their love, career etc, I always offer a mini reading to concentrate on those specific concerns.

  8. First off, never compromise your morals. If you feel you should be a tell it like it is reader than by all means do so. It is what you are supposed to do when you read.
    In my opinion, I would be greatly happy with my reader had she of done this for me. If I am paying for a service, I want the goods up front. Do not blow smoke up my hinny, only to have me standing there afterward in shock, asking what just happened?
    If you want candy coated readings, buy yourself a cutesy Oracle deck and read for yourself. They are mostly all positive as opposed to the Tarot.
    On the other hand, if you don’t want to lose a friend, family member, better half or a client that you know can’t handle the truth. (pardon the movie pun) The trick I use is that the cards just don’t want to talk today. I know this by this card. (pick any negative card, they don’t remember. lol) Scoop up the deck, put it away or pull out your Oracle deck and say maybe the Oracle might wish to talk today instead.
    Is this sneaky? Absolutely! But it’s better than upsetting someone that seems to take the cards way to serious and can cause them harm in any way because of this.
    I always make sure someone that wants me to read for them understands this one thing clearly before I do! That the Universe is in constant flux, so it can change at any moment. We don’t know, nor do we have any sway over it just because we read the cards. So absolutely nothing is set in stone because of this. This way to if they do want the nitty-gritty and it’s not a positive one, they can hope things might change and not be afraid to try if it’s something that they really, truly want to do.
    Just remind them before they go to be cautious with the situation because of the cards pulled and take it slow so they can feel it out before they get in too deep.

    1. Thank you Marie for this tip – I like that idea of saying “the cards don’t want to talk” if I’m reading for someone who is really sensitive. I just might use that in the future ๐Ÿ™‚ Sounds like you have lots of experience with people like that.

    2. That is a good idea since the oracle cards put a positive spin on even the most negative cards. I like this piece of advice. Thank u

  9. Interesting stuff! What initially comes to mind happened at least 15 years ago. Not exactly the same circumstances, but… When I first began working with tarot , it felt like my whole world blew open to so many amazing possibilities. I truly was on a high for a while, at least a solid year or longer. I gave 2 icky readings back in those early days I will never forget. Both involved family weekends where one or two of my family or in-laws were as fascinated with tarot as myself, and the rest… not so much. In each case, the enthusiastic one/ones kept insisting others get a reading to see for themselves how incredible it can be, despite their obvious hesitations. Both readings went badly. Because I was so new at it all, I didn’t recognize my own intuitive sense of hesitation towards doing the readings. I guess I felt that after all the drama leading up to convincing the reading to happen, I had to do it . This obnoxious scenario had to happened TWICE to me … since I can be a little ” slow on the up-take” so to speak. The card spreads in both cases were quite dark and confusing to me, and the receivers -closed off and irritated. I remember them both validating that the cards were making sense to them , yet remained chaotic and befuddling to myself. These readings lead to me coming to a screeching holt with that euphoria about sharing tarot. I did continue to work with tarot for myself ever since, discovering that the more I seemed to learn, the more I knew there was so much more to learn… like a never ending spring of wisdom and knowledge.

    In hindsight, the first bummer reading involved a now ‘ex sister-in law’ who basically was robbing my husband’s brother blind. The second was to one of my older sisters who was at the time considering leaving her husband for greener pastures. She never followed through, and to this day has no clue I’m even aware of her situation at that time…. and that is way ok by me. What I got out of these two cases is to always honor my intuition about doing the reading, to never push tarot on anyone, as well as never allowing well meaning fans to push me onto others.

  10. I want to quote Lily here as I totally agree with what she wrote:

    “I reacted by saying to myself that my commitment is to tell what I get and the truth not to try to make the person hear what they want to hear do they keep calling me.

    The hotline gets lots of women calls mg wanting to know how to make a man who is friends with benefits become her boyfriend when he isnโ€™t interested in a relationship and I donโ€™t teach how to manipulate someone into a relationship.

    Those ones donโ€™t call back, I let them go.”

    I also work for a psychic hotline and I absolutely know what she is talking about. The truth hurts sometimes. I understand that this is not what most people want to hear in situations like that. I will keep telling what I am getting though, even if this is not the “Yes, he will leave his wife for you and you will end up happlily ever after” they are hoping for. Sorry :/

  11. Ah! Absolutely love your tarot insight for guidance on learning Tarot. This is helpful as considering doing a practice reading for a friend. Thank you. โ™ฅ ???? ???? Can I ask a wee question? Should I use tarot deck that I use for my self-readings to do reading for a friend or use a deck I don’t really use? If I used my personal deck – could I just use Reiki to clear my friends energy off cards for when I do my daily reading for myself tomorrow? โ™ฅ๏ธ

    1. Great question, Leanne. Some readers like to have a personal deck just for themselves and a deck for public readings. I don’t see anything wrong with using the same deck for personal and public readings as long as you clear your cards using reiki, sage, crystals or whatever method you prefer.

    2. Personally, I have a personal deck exclusively for myself and my husband. Occasionally I will use them for long distance readings where they r not touched by others. I’ve had a friend or 2 use them before reluctantly BC I didn’t have my “public” deck available. Just be sure to cleanse them after each use. I use incense and flame. But yes I do have a deck that is for my (and my husband’s) hands only. Even the public reading deck of course should be cleansed after each reading. I usually use sage incense BC as well as my home, I read in a public place so dont want to offend others with the very strong scent of pure sage. )0(

  12. Trudy Vankoevering

    I too, work on a psychic online site and you have to be quick to pick up and interpret a spread (people are paying by the minute). As you said, I would never have asked about the future of the relationship (even though people ask this all the time) because the response from the cards might not be relevant to the present and even unclear … I prefer to pick up on the energy of their current love interest and what they’re feeling now about the querent. I can get a definite sense of their enthusiasm or lack of right then. In addition, I don’t feel that three cards tell you that much especially when they were all negative so I would have expanded the reading into a Celtic Cross to gain perhaps a fuller or more nuanced understanding of the situation …

  13. Well I work on a psychic hotline, a client was pissed at me once because she was convinced her married lover was her soulmate and she wanted me to tell her when he was leaving his wife for her. This was more straight psychic reading but I told her he wasnโ€™t going to leave his wife and he was going to just keep the relationship as was. She got angry, hung up and blocked me.

    I reacted by saying to myself that my commitment is to tell what I get and the truth not to try to make the person hear what they want to hear do they keep calling me.

    The hotline gets lots of women calls mg wanting to know how to make a man who is friends with benefits become her boyfriend when he isnโ€™t interested in a relationship and I donโ€™t teach how to manipulate someone into a relationship.

    Those ones donโ€™t call back, I let them go.

    Itโ€™s been quiet since Doreen became born again because a lot of her followers would call for readings but now they are afraid. I believe things will pick up again though.

    I let the upset ones go, if they want a refund I believe they call the customer service and can get one regardless of what I want to do.

    1. Oh my! Can you turn away people who want a reading like that? I’ve had a cheating husband and I just couldn’t condone a woman being in a relationship with a married man. I just couldn’t read for someone like that. (It’s very sad what’s happened to Doreen. By the way, I’m a “born again” Christian, whatever that means, lol, because I don’t really know, but I read tarot. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just hate that she’s made many people doubt something very beautiful.)

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