How to Create Powerful Client Boundaries
by Kendall SummerHawk











If you love to help your business
clients -- plus give a lot of value and
service -- then I bet you also experience
clients who test your boundaries.
Hey, it happens!

Sometimes it happens unexpectedly, like
when a client surprises us with a special
request or need. Those aren't the tough situations. The tough ones are the ones that
create that "heart sink" feeling when you see your client's appointment on your
calendar or hear their voice on your voice mail.

The warning signs for situations like this are pretty apparent early on. Luckily, there
is
something we can do to either prevent a difficult situation from occurring, or
minimize one that pops up. Either way, arriving at a successful solution means you
have to be willing to love yourself
more than you love your client!

Here's an example of what I mean: Suzie is a coach, with a practice that is growing
slowly. Her clients are loyal and she enjoys working with them. Except for her client,
Mary. Mary calls in 5 minutes late for most appointments. Her initial client agreement
arrived the day of her first coaching session. Then, after three months of working
together, her check bounced.

What's tough about situations like this is that the client isn't being all out terrible...but
she is certainly crossing a line. If Suzie ignores the situation (hoping it will improve
on it's own) then she is silently telling Mary that she doesn't deserve to be respected.

But hope is not a strategy.

The ripple effect of that lack of respect will be felt far and wide in Suzie's relationship
with Mary
and in her relationships with other clients too! It impacts Suzie's ability and
confidence to raise her fees, make a big coaching challenge or ask for valuable
referrals. It also potentially diminishes the quality of results she and Mary will create
together.

So what are Suzie's—and YOUR—options?

Here are 5 quick tips for handling difficult or demanding clients with grace and
elegance:

Tip #1 Speak the plain truth and speak up for what you want

I have always found that being direct and honest about a situation is THE best way to
create a positive outcome. What that looks like or sounds like will vary depending on
your situation, but it does not include mincing around or being vague.

In Suzie's situation, she can tell her client, Mary that she needs her to show up on time
and prepared for their coaching sessions. Remember, clients WANT us to hold them
to their greatest potential! We can accomplish that by speaking up and clearly stating
what we need in order for the relationship to work. Our clients can then choose
whether they are willing to participate at the level you expect. Which leads me to tip
#2...

Tip #2 Be willing to let the client go

This can be a tough one to follow but I guarantee that once you release the need to
keep the client (or the need to "make it all okay for them") you free yourself from
being out of integrity.

Plus, when you know you are willing to let a client go if your standards are not met,
you automatically create more choices and options in how you want to proceed, and
more credibility in the actions you take. I've noticed that the more I am willing to let a
client go, the faster that client shapes up!

Tip #3 Be clear about your standards

In all fairness to your clients, you must be crystal clear about your standards and the
boundaries that support them. When the tables are turned and I am the client, I've
found that the more clear my coach/supplier/vendor is, the more I enjoy working
with them. The funny thing is, is that their clear standards make me a better client and
I get more of what I want!

Do you have clear standards on how you want to be treated by your clients? Do the
standards you have need to be updated given where you are now in your business? I
recommend writing out a list of what you expect from clients. Don't be surprised if,
when you write your list, you realize where you've been letting clients get away with
behavior you don't really find acceptable!

Tip #4 Don't waffle or overly-apologize

The best way to encourage someone to take ownership and responsibility for their
actions is to model what you want. Overly apologizing or waffling on a standard
you've set sends a signal that you don't really mean what you say or you won't back it
up.

When faced with an uncomfortable client situation I'll apologize for not being clear
earlier on. By doing so, I'm taking responsibility for my part in the situation. Then I go
right into asking for what I need and making a request to see if the other person is on
board with me...or not.

Tip#5 Don't wait! Take care of the situation sooner rather than later

In my work with horses I have to be crystal clear on my boundaries at all times. The
horse, on the other hand, is always looking for any "leaks." It's as if they have a
thought bubble above their head that says, "Hmmm...I wonder what I can do to get my
human to ____(fill in the blank)?"

So I've learned to be clear and firm at all times, not just sometimes. That doesn't mean
I nag at my horses. But I do make sure I have their attention and respect, and if I don't,
I'm doing something immediately to get it back!

Is there a client situation you're tolerating now? In your fantasy world, what would
that situation look like instead? Great! Now take action and make that situation look
just like how you want it to, using the tips I've given you here!

Client relationships can be a slippery slope. Once they start to go downhill, they seem
to pick up speed and before we know it, we're in a situation that is going to take a lot
more work to clear up.

My coaching request to you is this: Love yourself more than you love your clients,
and let that love show by creating clear standards for the people you let into your
world. The magnetism you create when you do is a powerful attractor for many great
people and events in your life and business!

Meet the author: Kendall SummerHawk, the "Horse Whisperer for Business" delivers smart,
savvy ways entrepreneurs can turn their hectic business into a smooth-running, fun, 6-figure
money-making dream. To learn more about her book, Brilliance Unbridled, and sign up for more
FREE tips like these, visit her site
Kendall SummerHawk.
Image courtesy of http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1018975
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