Handling Difficult Client Situations with Ease: Problem 1- Trouble with Boundaries

boundaries

Handling Difficult Client Situations with Ease: Problem 1- Trouble with Boundaries

May 15, 2022

Operating a business is challenging in its own right. Dealing with difficult client situations can make it an even more problematic. Problem clients can rob you of your joy in the work you do and take your time and attention away from other clients. Today, we’ll discuss one of the most frequent issues, maintaining boundaries, and things you can do to manage this situation more efficiently. As a business owner for the last 16 years, this is one of the hardest lessons I had to learn!

Boundaries are important; not only for your clients who need to understand that boundaries exist but also for you and your family, especially if you work from home. Do you have clients that call and text you at all hours of the day and night? This intrusion on personal and family time creates resentment from your family toward your business. In other words, it’s a problem that needs to be addressed, Pronto!

Follow these 3 Steps to Establish and Maintain Boundaries in Your Business

Step 1: Create “Collaboration Guidelines

If you’re having a problem with clients failing to understand and recognize boundaries, it is time to sit down and create a set of “collaboration guidelines” for all your clients. While these won’t eliminate existing problems, which need to be addressed, it will help prevent some future problems with boundaries.

boundaries

What should your collaboration guidelines include? Keep this document straightforward and simple. Include the following:

  • Identify your office hours. These are the hours when you are available to answer phone calls (when not working with other clients), return phone calls, respond to emails, respond to text messages, etc.
  • Establish realistic expectations for client communications. This is where you remind your clients that each of your clients is important to you. When you are working with one client, it may take a while to respond to another, but you will do so as soon as possible.
  • Reiterate the importance of boundaries and personal time. Clients need to understand that there are boundaries and limits to your availability. This is your opportunity to show them the importance of boundaries, office hours, realistic expectations, etc. in action.

You collaboration guidelines need to be simple to read and contain few additional parameters, so the key details do not get lost in translation. In the future, send out the “collaboration guidelines” whenever you give clients your personal contact information.

For existing clients, make it a teachable moment. Remind them that it is important for all professionals to establish boundaries and create “office hours.” Inform that these are your office hours and you would appreciate their understanding in limiting communications to these times.

Step 2: Create Auto-Reply Messages Outside of Office Hours

These auto-reply messages are important because they do several things at once without requiring you to interrupt your personal or family time to interact with your clients:

  • They give you the opportunity to remind clients of your office hours.
  • They let your clients know you will respond to their messages or requests during your next regular “office hours.”
  • They allow you to remind your clients they are IMPORTANT to you. This way you do not risk alienating your clients through perceived unresponsiveness while honoring your own need for personal time and boundaries between work and life.

Step 3: Stick to Your Guns

This is sometimes the most difficult part of the process for people who dedicate their lives to helping other people. It was for me! It’s also essential that you hold yourself accountable to the standards you set for your business communications. What does that mean for you?

Don’t answer your clients when they call, text, email, or send Facebook or Twitter messages after hours.

In fact, you should ONLY respond to them during normal business hours. UNLESS the client continues to push and reach out. Then, you should send a BRIEF reply telling them you are unavailable and EXACTLY when you can be reached (during your office hours…and restate the hours and days).

Boundaries are as important for your clients as they are for you. For you, they allow you the opportunity to relax and recharge, uninterrupted by work, with friends and family.

For your clients, it lets them know that they must create boundaries in their own lives with family, work, friends, and coworkers. It’s an important lesson that drives home the importance of valuing your time.

As the owner of a successful business, I’ve developed a process to solve every business challenge you’re facing. From systems to marketing and everything in between, I’ve got you covered.

I use a curriculum-based approach with situational coaching. We will brainstorm about your unique business situations. You receive practical advice to overcome the challenges of starting and maintaining a business combined with accountability and guidance.

I currently have a very limited space for new consulting clients. Please contact me for availability.

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