Setting Healthy Boundaries With Clients
Have you ever been woken from your sweet sleep by a call from a client who needs you to do something they could have done themselves? Have you had the misfortune of dealing with a manipulative client who keeps chipping in new topics as you wrap up a program?
Set some boundaries already!
Need help? Keep reading!
As a coach or professional service business owner, people will tend to lean on you, consult and trust you for guidance. It is inevitable, because your business put you in that capacity. You may also want to give your all to your clients, extending your time beyond work hours, or taking their calls at any time… and giving free sessions or accepting late payments. This is great, but in what light does this put you?
It simply states that you don’t value your own self, expertise and time. You are also sending a message that your balance between your personal life and business is not important you. Clients will definitely take advantage of it, and you would become a slave to your job. When you get wiser and decide to retrace, you will rouse a whole truck of rabble that may never settle.
They will ring your phone out of schedule and still send you mails that they need immediate answers. To them, they have paid you, so you should always be available. No respect for your time whatsoever. Gradually, you become a slave to your clients’ needs and subject to their erratic behaviors when you fail to meet up.
You become their assistant, rather than a coach, a guy who may one day lace their shoes. You get drained, anxious and start losing yourself. Boundaries provide you with ample personal time you need. And trust me, time is precious!
Sometimes, in a bid not to offend or lose a client, coaches allow certain behaviors without calling it to a halt. This sets off a chain of events which can lead to huge problems as work with the client progresses. Setting boundaries are essentials if you must have a healthy relationship with your clients. This will build a relationship of trust, decorum and mutual respect.
This is not about you bamboozling the clients with rules and regulations. It is not the aim at all. Rather, an enlightened and right thinking client will understand that this is the only way they can get the best out of you. Setting a healthy set of boundaries is the only way to ensure clients get the best coaching experience working with you.
But… it’s best you set these boundaries at the beginning of your program with your clients.
Below are some proven ways to set healthy boundaries for clients.
Set Clear and Strict Policies for Payment and Cancellation
Before you sign a client on, furnish the client with information about your payments and cancellation policies. As much as you want to help, you don’t set out to waste your time in business. The time and energy of both you and your clients are valuable. It is always wise to actively look out for both of you and your business. Keep your price point and policies very firm.
What will your program cost?
Do you take installment payments?
What is the medium of payment?
Do you accept late payment and is there a late fee attached?
What is the window period for meeting cancellation?
Does the client get a waiver of are they charged for it?
Explicitly explain these things, and even better, put it in writing. This aids clarity of procedures on the part of the client. Discussing money with a client is rather awkward, if there was no clear notification from the beginning.
Think your charges through and thoroughly, before putting it out to the client. Do not spring up hidden charges on your client. Work with integrity.
Do not feel guilty about your rigid stand on your policies. The human nature is a selfish one and some clients would want to have you all to themselves at no cost at all. They may even go to the point of manipulating or guilt tripping you into bending the rules they do not like in their favor. Do not ever give in. it will set a precedence that you’ll not be able to control in the long run.
If they are not in agreement with your policies, they should take their business elsewhere.
Set Clear and Strict Schedules
Just like you discuss about your service and the results you will help prospects get, create a clear picture of what working with you will be like. Make a comprehensive outline of the services you provide.
Let clients have an idea of the duration of your program, the frequency of meeting and an in-depth view on what your coaching relationship will look like. This will help your clients know what to expect, without having some unrealistic hang of events and operations.
Once you sign up a client officially, set clear schedules even before the first coaching meeting.
How long will both of you spend on your program? 6 weeks? 3 months? 6 months?
How many times would both of you meet during the program? 8 times? 40 times?
How long will each meeting be? 1hour? 4hours? 1hr 45 minutes?
What medium would you be meeting on? One on one? Skype? Phone calls? Or would it be a combination of all?
Make a detailed and simplified agenda for your meetings. There should be a seamless unfolding of events unique to the needs of your client. This is why your program should be distilled into steps that are simple enough for your clients to work with. Make each meeting count by doing something productive. And this is only possible if there is a schedule and plan for clients to follow.
You don’t necessarily have to lump the whole program before the client at a given. But having a generally detailed idea of what the working relationship will be like will let clients know what gives with you. Their time with you will also be maximized.
Learn To Say No
“NO” is a really powerful word that either drives one insane or preserves sanity. Saying no to the excessively needy people has never killed anyone. If you want to preserve your sanity as a coach, make “NO” your lifelong companion. Some clients will want to spend way beyond their scheduled meeting time with you. They would keep chipping in new issues even when it is obvious that their time has run out and you’re wrapping up.
In some cases, you get the emotional blackmail tactics. Put your leg firm on the ground with a NO! If they have a problem with you, because you refuse to sleep over at work for their sake, then its time they go elsewhere.
Your job is your business, to be handled with utmost care and you are in charge. You cannot be in charge if you do not have control of the happenings in your own domain. If you simply let such acts fly, you would be giving a person who needs help the position of leadership. And this, I tell you, is a well heated and yummy recipe for disaster. This is because; they totally have no idea of what they are doing.
If your client won’t observe and respect your rules and boundaries, if they won’t let you be in charge, drop them. For yours and their sakes, when a client gets overbearing without hope or willingness for change, kindly fire them off your program. You don’t need their business.
There is also the case of clients wanting you to share your personal life with them. Your coaching sessions are professional settings, not thanksgiving dinners. As much as you should make them feel comfortable, get familiar and share some jokes, your personal life is off limits! The program is about them, and not you.
The parts of your life you are willing to share should be one you’re comfortable with and not compelled to share.
Some dessert for you…
Many clients honestly do not know when they are stepping out of line. They are unaware of these things, and it is your duty as a coach to look out for your business by putting them right. But if they insist and continue, do not hesitate to show them the door.
Setting healthy boundaries with a client should never be bad or stall the client from reaching their full potentials. Healthy boundaries are not growth inhibitors. They are rather catalysts for great coaching relationships and outstandingly dramatic outcomes.
Firmly set boundaries bring more prestige and respect to the coach, keep client- coach relationship on track, and affirm trust. And like the Bible says, wisdom is profitable to direct!
Healthy boundaries help coaches serve clients better from the highest place!
To learn how to implement all these in your business, schedule a breakthrough strategy session with someone on our team.
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