Thank you to all who did last weeks Tarot Challenge 🙂 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.
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:
- Is there anything I could have done differently in that reading to avoid disappointing my client?
- 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.