The magic of boundaries

Boundaries.

We all need them.

We all have them but we just don’t always state them out loud. You know, so other people know what they are… and that is the problem

Meatloaf was on the right track “I’ll do anything for love but I won’t do that”. Trouble is we never find out what “that” is.

People cannot and will not respect a boundary that they don’t know exists

This is where it gets tricky. We don’t like upsetting people so instead, we say nothing and then wonder why people keep pushing up against our boundaries.

I come up against this with clients from time to time. I have it set up so all bookings with me are made online via an online booking site. It keeps it simple for me and my clients. They can see when I am available in their own time zone and work out what suits them and voila, done. They even get a simple email reminder of when they have scheduled.

Seems simple enough, right? It’s a win, win for me and my clients.

Except for one client who didn’t like using online, electronic methods to book so she would ring me when it suited her to book a session. Each time she did I was out and about, not near my computer or my diary (yes, I still keep a regular appointment book). Each time I directed her back to my website.

I wasn’t trying to be an arse. I was merely reiterating my boundary. This is how I operate. This is what works for me.

Then there was the client who told me the appointment times I had didn’t work for her. No problem, I opened up some other spots as she is in a different time zone.

Guess what happened?

Yup, she needed something different again.

You see I hadn’t stuck with my own boundary.

Once people know that you are flexible then they will keep asking for changes and your boundaries get pushed right out the door.

It is tricky when you are in business because you want to help your customers, you want to serve to the best of your ability but there also has to be a line which does not get crossed.

We need to state our hours of work and stick to them. We need to be able to spend uninterrupted time with family and friends without taking every call, answering every text and email.

At the same time if we are working from home we need to be able to do our work without friends dropping in unannounced or calling for a “quick chat”.

The only way yo do that is to keep our boundaries firm.

Clearly tell your clients the hours of work and the way that you work. Refer them to your FAQ page. Point them to your scheduling page. Keep reiterating it until they get the message. The broken record technique is invaluable. Say it as often and in as many ways that you can.

Let your friends and family know that you are working from home. Not lounging around waiting to grab a coffee or chat for hours. If you do it once they will think you aren’t serious and do it again and again.

Once you have clear, openly stated boundaries it becomes like a magical forcefield.

No longer are you having to remind people what they are or aren’t because now they know. This frees you up to do what you love with who you love. It helps you serve your clients in the best way possible because you have work time and family time clearly defined and don’t feel like you are at everyone’s beck and call.

Trying to please everyone means that you are the only one not getting what you want and there is no fun in that.