Maintaining Client Boundaries - 8 Ways to Stand Strong
The only thing we can change is ourselves, i.e. our behavior. You’ve heard me say this many times as I know it to be true. Today’s topic is about the resistance we have to creating and upholding boundaries with our clients. We often experience conflict when it comes to making clear statements, writing a contract that outlines the scope of work, raising or sticking to our prices.
For many of us, backing down or retreating is our automatic response when someone asks for more. We are afraid of losing the client, scared of the unpredictable outcomes, or believe that standing up for ourselves means something bad will happen. Perhaps we are conflict adverse or are sure an adversarial conversation will ensue if we stand firm in our position.
Some of us are all about over delivering, believing this is the best way to keep our client’s happy and the primary reason they’ll continue working with us. Giving excellent service should be a prime deliverable for all of us. This is different than believing we have to discount our rates, do work we’re not being paid for, or give in to every client request without compensation.
If you offer your clients the world and only charge them for a continent you can’t get mad when they expect the world of you. As much as we’d like to blame the demanding client who asks for more (and more), we have to step back and look at our part. Why don’t we take pause and revisit our agreements when the scope of a project shifts? Why don’t we have a candid conversation with the client?
It is my opinion that most people, including your clients, will appreciate you standing strong; being clear, decisive and straightforward. This is not to say that some clients count on you being intimidated or scared because they know they can push your boundaries and get what they want. However, when you are dealing with clients who are invested in a win-win situation, being wishy washy or ambivalent won’t serve you. You will appear to lack confidence and might not be seen as the best person for the job. This is true across the board, no matter what type of business you have or what your clients do. Self-confidence goes hand in hand with setting good boundaries.
What can you do when presented with a boundary challenge?
1. Pay attention to your gut; she won’t be lying to you! 2. Know what you do best, know what you want, know what you’re worth and stick to it! 3. Have all contractual agreements in writing. 4. Let the client know from the onset that if they want to change the scope of the project/agreement/engagement you will submit a written update that includes additional costs and expenses related to the request. 5. Do not do the additional work until you’ve reached agreement with the client. 6. Don’t assume the client is asking you for something they aren’t verbalizing. 7. If a client asks for a discount and you are willing to give one, don’t respond immediately. Think about it and get back to them once you are clear on what you want to do. 8. Always make sure the client knows when they are getting a deal or a discount. This is best reflected in writing. The invoice is a good place to show what services/products they have gotten for free or at a discounted rate.