Sometimes the best answer is “I am not going to tell you.”

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Or how to decide when not to answer a clients question.

The 6 of Coins highlights that knowing what the goal is determines the best path to accomplishing it. If the goal is to help then that might guide readings away from what the client is asking. It might even lead you to say no.

The 6 of Coins highlights that knowing what the goal is determines the best path to accomplishing it. If the goal is to help then that might guide readings away from what the client is asking. It might even lead you to say no.

I am always thinking about how to help clients. Over the last decade my thoughts have changed a lot. I used to think that giving people answers was helpful. Later I spent some time thinking that a psychological approach was the best. At times I have leaned closer or further from more magical ways of working with people. At this point my style is really a free flowing mix of all of these approaches and more.

Lately though, I have been thinking about how my job as the reader is to control the reading. Sometimes this means refusing to answer questions for clients. It is not that the cards don’t offer an answer, but more to the point the reading suggests that my answering the question is detrimental to the client’s journey.

I am sure, whether or not you read tarot, that you have run into someone who was just desperate to get an opinion or answer to some question. “What do you think of this new guy?” “What job is right for me?” “How do you find true love?” None of these questions are unreasonable. We all desire some kind of guidance or assurances at some point or other in our lives. So how can we decide whether or not it is helpful to answer a question in a reading.

Are they ignoring you? You can often tell when a person is not listening to the reading. They interrupt to say what they think is going be the answer. Or they say “Uh huh. But what about Bill? Is he my true love?” If they aren’t listening – refusing to give an answer might open their ears.
They tell you not to tell them. I am a big fan of listening intently to my clients. Every so often someone says “I just can’t live with it if Petunia is not my true love! Please tell me what you see.” If they are obviously worked up and say this I’ll often refuse to answer. I will take the reading in other directions, but a direct answer to that question is rarely helpful.
They already know the answer. When a client tells me about the horrible person who is mistreating them and then asks if they will change I refuse to answer. The fact the client can name all the ways in which their job, lover, or situation is unreasonable means they don’t need an answer. They might need help on how to make a change, but they are aware that the change is required.

In all of these cases I won’t refuse to read for them. I will, however, point the reading towards advice that can help them. Being able to say no to an unhelpful line of questioning is a powerful tool to have as a reader. It does require that you be very comfortable with the clients emotions. They might get angry, break down, or withdraw. Being willing to hold space for the whole of their being is perhaps the best gift someone can receive in a reading, but only if you as the reader are not absorbing the emotions or suppressing your own reactions.

If you aren’t reading for other people keep this in mind when you are reading for yourself or listening to your friends. Ask yourself “What is the most helpful approach?”

Let me know if you try it. Along with shushing talkative clients, or sharing silence with quiet ones, saying “no” is a tools I use often with people. Please let me know how it goes for you.
Andrew McGregor

If you would like to take your tarot practice to the next level please grab my free book or contact me me to talk about some personal tarot mentoring.

“No” image used under Creative Commons License.

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4 comments on “Sometimes the best answer is “I am not going to tell you.””

  1. Brigit | Biddy Tarot

    I really believe clients will respect you more when you say that you can’t answer a specific question or you’re not going to be adding any value by answering a question within a certain context. I have times when a client has paid for a reading, but I have come back to say that I don’t think they will get value from the reading given the question they’ve asked. We either shift the reading to something that is more valuable, or we agree to refund the payment and they can spend that money on a legal advisor, a therapist or a pregnancy test!

  2. Andrew McGregor

    Totally. Tarot cannot answer everything. Especially if a phone call, test, or other professional is actually qualified to give an answer.

  3. Jenna

    This is very timely post for me because lately I’ve noticed an increase in my saying no to clients if I felt the question serves to reinforce a dysfunctional pattern. I would rather attend to the underlying anxiety or worry from whence the question springs.

  4. Andrew McGregor

    That is the power of a long(er) relationship with clients too. You know their patterns and scripts. It allows you to shape the process to to reveal the subtext of their lives. It is powerful
    When that happens. The years of knowing them can build the trust that allows that to happen.

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