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Boundaries for Microbusiness Owners: What Are They Good For?

January 28, 2013

I gasped when I saw the title of Danielle LaPorte’s latest blog post flit through my Tweetstream this morning.

Photo by Kevin Dooley courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons.“Bag your boundaries,” she says.

WHY? was my first thought. Designing and keeping clear boundaries is one of the things that’s helped and is helping me grow, professionally and personally. Boundaries help me sleep better at night (no reading email in bed, no responding to important client emails from my iPhone, no work on the weekends unless it’s my idea). They make client relationships run more smoothly. They enable good projects to get done more efficiently. And I’ve noticed that when my peers, colleagues, and clients step up to enforce their own thoughtful boundaries — business gets better, blood pressure goes down, and those Wrong-Fitting clients show themselves the door.

You can read Danielle’s take on boundaries here.

Here’s my thoughtful alternate take on why boundaries are so important for values-based microbusiness owners:

Danielle writes:

“You know what’s a major turn on for potential clients and collaborators? This: ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to makes this awesome.’ Hellohhh, beautiful.”

As someone who works every day on creative projects with small business owners, both 1:1 and as the leader of a team, I appreciate the spirit behind DLP’s perspective. It’s gorgeously open, enthusiastic, and in the big picture, it seems ‘right.’ However, I think it’s irresponsible advice, especially in light of an audience comprised of many newly minted coaches, creatives, and solo business owners. Let me tell you why.

I completely agree that as service providers, it’s necessary to do our best work.

We owe our openness to the creative process to our clients. Even if, occasionally, that somehow takes us past the promised number of revisions, or if we go 15 minutes over the hour on an intake call. I would rather deliver my best work and feel inspired doing so than stick to my contract to the letter but deliver work that I don’t believe is my best effort, and that I doubt has an optimal likelihood of satisfying the client’s business goals and brand objectives.

But, I think newbie practitioners and those who have a hard time with boundaries anyway will take Danielle’s post today as a license to consistently overdeliver (to the detriment of their business and their craft) and a credo to bend over backwards, because “DLP says it’s good business.”

As creatives, most of us have had clients who would have gladly run us ragged requesting endless re-works and revisions if we’d let them. Not because the work we deliver isn’t good or great, but because the clients are not actually ready for the process we deliver. Thus, they feel perpetually dissatisfied, confused, and unclear as to what they want.

As Creative Director of a boutique copywriting, branding, and marketing agency, it’s important to me as I build out systems and processes for The Voice Bureau that we don’t sacrifice the human touch in favor of a more scalable and sustainable business. There’s a balance between boundaries that work to support client relationships, and boundaries that simply keep everyone from feeling seen, heard, and satisfied.

In the comments, I really want to know:

What are your thoughts and experiences around boundaries in your creative business life? Good? Bad? Do yours need tightening up or loosening up?

***Please know — I do NOT see this conversation as about Danielle, so please keep that in mind as you craft your response. This is about a topic that is VERY important to business owners and I welcome all points of view.

(Photo credit.)

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{ 82 comments… read them below or add one }

vivienne January 28, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Thank you for this! I definitely read that message in my inbox this morning knowing that I do need the boundaries I have, that we each learn our own process around boundaries…and that what Danielle said wasn’t a total fit for me. I’m glad you spoke up and wrote about it as I think we need all these different viewpoints as we settle into our roles as entrepreneurs and find out what works for each of us.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Thanks for sharing, Vivienne. Glad this take resonates with you.

(BTW, love the striped B&W skirt image on your home page.) :)

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Heather Thorkelson January 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Abby I’m totally with you on this and I swear there is something in the air because my Monday blog post today (which was set up in my Ed Cal long ago) is called How to Avoid Problem Clients and it’s essentially my tips on which boundaries to put in place in the early days *precisely* so that you don’t get the over delivery burn out. The only reason I’m still IN business is because of my boundaries! So yes, and thank you very much for this alternative perspective.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Thank you, Heather! I have learned boundaries as I’ve gone, mostly through not holding them in their proper place as I’ve started and continued client relationships. Most of these lessons, of course, are hard-won and bittersweet. I have to say, when it comes to DLP’s post, I admire the passion but don’t love the practice (of being boundary-less-ly open).

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Heather Thorkelson January 29, 2013 at 7:05 am

Yeah, I admire the passion too but my gut reaction to “I’ll do whatever it takes to make this awesome” was ….”within the parameters of a *clearly understood* working relationship.” And no two boundaries fit the same…learning what works for you as you go is the best, and finding effective, gentle ways of communicating that to people is a wonderful skill to develop. Nothin’ bad with boundaries…no ma’am.

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Paul January 28, 2013 at 1:03 pm

My boundaries are invisible. Like replying to emails on weekends or late evenings—I just don’t. No client has ever called me on it. I guess my issue with creating boundaries is more an issue I have with rules. Any time I set a “rule” I feel limited, so I just don’t bother with them. Instead I do what feels right for the situation, and more often than not it follows a pattern (but I don’t act on or publicize that pattern).

I love this post Abby! Differing points of view are awesome and there needs to be more of them online.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:05 pm

I love your easy, organic way of managing your business relationships, Paul. Cool that you’re able to do what works for you without having to explain or define a rule. I personally am fond of rules — especially when I create them for myself. They’re part of my own internal guidance systems. Although I absolutely believe there are almost NO rules that can’t be broken if done so thoughtfully and effectively.

I have to wonder if holding boundaries in one’s business is something women tend to struggle with more than men. (Yep, even after all this time.)

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Alle January 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I resonate with recognizing a pattern but not broadcasting it to the world at large.
As a newbie to the creative business world, I’m paranoid that I have to take everyone’s advice on everything. Need to carve my own way.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Hi, Alle –

Ah, what a great perspective to take any any stage of business. Even people with several years of self-employed business under their belt get caught up in Input Syndrome. Interestingly, your comment is a nice segue way to the next post I’m writing, on the stages of brand development awareness. :)

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Also, can I just say how glad I am that I found where to deactivate the yellow smiley face every time someone types an emoticon? Ahhhhhhh.

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Caroline Frenette Master Intuitive Coach January 29, 2013 at 11:15 am

I love your attitude Paul: no attitude, cool, easy.
I want some of that in my inbox!

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Tara Gentile January 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm

Hi Abby!

I agree with both you and Danielle. And I love that this conversation is being had.

I’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people who are using boundaries as a defensive mechanism instead of as tool for crafting systems that scale. Instead of asking microbusiness owners to state their boundaries, can we ask them to construct systems that mean their boundaries don’t get bumped up against? For instance, I do often put up long and long running Out of Office replies. But those replies contain instructions for getting help now, using the systems I’ve created. It’s not perfect but it does help a lot of people and leave me without a care in the world. The message is not “I have boundaries! Go me!” but “I’m here to help. Here’s how to get that help.”

I also see the trend towards leading with boundaries as being a symptom of victim mentality. If you lead with your boundaries, my impression is that you expect that I don’t already observe them. You expect me to make you a victim. That’s not cool. On the flip side, it can also easily come off as a declaration of “Look how enlightened I am. I won’t let you take advantage of me.” Also a turn off.

In this case, I believe Danielle was talking to her right people. Her right people are readers who see past her prose and into the purpose of it. Now, obviously, her audience–as you rightly point out–is full of lots of people who are not actually her right people. So another interesting question, for me, that stems from your post is, “Does a write have a responsibility to right for the majority even if that majority is not who she really wants to write for?”

Would love your thoughts on that question.

Tara

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Tara Gentile January 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

One more thing. I think the main point is NOT “Don’t have boundaries.” It’s “Create a business/life where the boundaries are integrated. You don’t need to *lead* with them.”

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm

Hi, Tara –

Thanks for this thoughtful reply.

Instead of asking microbusiness owners to state their boundaries, can we ask them to construct systems that mean their boundaries don’t get bumped up against?

Yes, oh, yes! To me, boundaries without a clear reason to have them (or enact them) are as empty and futile as saying, Mmm, I like THIS color palette and THESE font choices. Let’s go with them because they’re pretty! ;) Again, none of these actions support the business owner in meeting his or her business goals and brand objectives.

And yes — I concur that leading *with* boundaries (even for someone who has, say, a high Power or Security value) tends to put a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. I see what DLP is saying on that note, but I also think her post is not to be misinterpreted as a sweeping prescription for what TO DO in values-based microbusiness.

And on that note, to your question:

“Does a write[r] have a responsibility to [write] for the majority even if that majority is not who she really wants to write for?”

In my take, nope. Absolutely not. Brands who write for everybody end up writing for nobody. (As we’ve all heard a million times.) In writing for ONE person per Value Prop (whether it’s for a total brand or for a singular offer), we lead with specificity, and that specificity has an uncanny way of feeling universal. DLP and you and I will always attract readers who can derive value from what we’re sharing, but ultimately, polarizing posts like hers today are just the thing for showing your Not Quite Right People that you’re not exactly talking to them.

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Heather Thorkelson January 29, 2013 at 7:07 am

Tara, I couldn’t agree more. Very nicely put.

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Rebecca Bass-Ching February 3, 2013 at 8:05 am

Thank you Abby for such a thoughtful response to DLP’s post. It really got me thinking about a subject so important to me.

I think for me, my definition of boundaries is what made me really value DLP’s post. I see a difference between setting a boundary – which draws a line as what what I say “yes” and “no” too personally and professionally – and a huge wall of rules and have to’s which repels and feels icky. Walls keep the good and the bad out. Walls feel controlling, narcissistic, distancing. As Tara noted above, “I’ve seen a huge increase in the number of people who are using boundaries as a defensive mechanism instead of as tool for crafting systems that scale.”

Boundaries are always getting pushed and tested and it takes emotional fortitude and being clear on the meaning and the purpose of the boundary. If you resent setting your boundary, as DLP noted many do, it is time to rethink your so-called boundary.

Truly effective boundaries create safety in a personal and professional relationship. If someone makes it to the point where I am saying I will do what it takes to make this awesome, they are a good fit for me because of my established boundaries, not besides them.

When we are working harder than our client, true boundaries have gone by the wayside. Same goes when it takes climbing Mt Everest to get in the door. Abby, I really appreciate how you summarized this point, “There’s a balance between boundaries that work to support client relationships, and boundaries(aka walls – my insert) that simply keep everyone from feeling seen, heard, and satisfied.”

Getting clear who, when, when to say “Yes” and “No” to is one of the best decisions I have made in my adult life.

Over promising, over delivering for the right clients at the right time is magic. Constantly over promising and over delivering is when scarcity has taken over and boundaries are out the window.

Abby, I hope you and other biz thought leaders keep flushing through this important topic as I think it is so foundational to a successful and thriving business and life.

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Abby Kerr February 6, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Thanks for sharing your perspective here, Rebecca. I really appreciate your balanced view. :)

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Susan Cadley January 28, 2013 at 1:10 pm

As someone who works in the field of boundaries, psychology, it’s all about the word healthy and both perspectives have merit. I use the pendulum as an example with my clients, when something is “too much” of something or “not enough” of something, there may be an imbalance or it may be unhealthy. We need our boundaries to be true to ourselves and setting and speaking them is crucial to our well being. Remaining too open is not self responsible. On the other end of the swinging pendulum, when boundaries are set so rigid, it can be experienced as aloof and controlling. So I get the turn off factor DL writes about, as I’ve had both professional and personal relationships with this ingredient. We need both. Right brain and left brain. Boundaries & openness. I wouldn’t bag the boundaries, just be mindful about the intention behind them and follow your inner knowing.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Thank you, Susan! Beautifully balanced perspective here. This is what I’m aiming for in life and business.

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Hillary Weiss January 28, 2013 at 1:24 pm

Aaaaaaaaamen, Abby! Another home run post – as usual.

Right now, I’m in the middle of a complete overhaul of my business that includes setting new boundaries BECAUSE I spent a whole year and a half almost entirely without them. I think that’s the natural thought pattern when you start out: gotta take on every client, gotta do every job, gotta accept every request… even if it’s a Saturday night phone call. Why? Because you need to build your reputation.

But now I’m on the other side of things, I realize my reputation still would still have been based in a solid foundation even if I hadn’t bent over backwards for absolutely every client’s request (no matter how nutty). Why? Because the clients who required me to become a pretzel in accordance with their complex & 911 emergency demands didn’t really seem to notice all the bending that was going on… they believed what I was doing was normal & expected. And I let them go on thinking that.

Mind you, this isn’t because they’re bad people, or cruel slave-drivers. It’s just that saying yes over and over will do that to people. We take ‘yes’ for granted when we hear it all the time. And they also didn’t see the 4 am crying episodes, the anger & resentment that built up as I lost weekends and holidays, the important events I had to miss because someone’s error-riddled email blast needed “a little love” t-minus 12 hours before liftoff.

As the writer/artist/producer doing the work, it’s our JOB to set the standard. I went boundary-free because I thought that was the only option. But it wasn’t. Looking back now, I see that my workaholism bordered on insanity for a while there. If I’d just set standard boundaries at the beginning (i.e. no calls after 8 pm, no editing requests at midnight with less than 6 hours to go – unless you’ve set the draft on fire), I have no doubt in my mind I still could have built myself up.

Currently, I’m in the process of adjusting my business to work with one client at a time, within a set limit of days. Why? Because when I set up boundaries, I’m free to really delve into the quality & depth of the work I’m doing, and can craft more beautiful things. That’s the best fit for my creative process. It’s a huge change, but I’m no longer worried about losing clients/fans of my work because of these new boundaries – because if they don’t want to work within the parameters that permit me to produce at the highest level all the time, then I don’t think we’re a fit to work together anyway.

And granted, Danielle’s post isn’t entirely about working without boundaries, but I agree that the advice does border on irresponsible. Not just for those of us who work in the field, but also for clients seeking writers. Is the standard destined to be “Ew, that person sent me a long contract. Better not work with them, even though I know they’re the best,”? That’s not a world I’d personally like to work in.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Hillary –

As the writer/artist/producer doing the work, it’s our JOB to set the standard.

Yes, yes, YES. Absolutely.

I personally have found that clients who resist signing contracts or won’t take the time to figure out how to use the digital signing software are not the easiest to work with.

And just typing the above, I’m noticing that we (values-based microbusiness owners) have a high value on clients being ‘easy’ to work with. Lucky us! If we worked for a big outfit, we wouldn’t necessarily have the luxury of deciding who it is we want to serve.

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Hillary Weiss January 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Absolutely agreed! That’s why we’re here after all.

And Tara made an excellent point about not leading with boundaries at risk of sounding like a victim or overly-enlightened… but at the same time, we have to consider: would we want to work with someone who responds to clear boundaries in such a way?

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:52 pm

Good point!

I also think it’s easier for some people to ‘hold’ boundaries in a strong but serene way, whereas for others of us, even the thought of holding a boundary sends us into a breathless tizzy. (And of course, there’s a wide range of responses in the middle.) I think boundary-designing and -holding is a learned skill.

(Thinking now of the wonderful Randi Buckley’s course, Boundaries for Kind People.)

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Erica January 28, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I’m with Tara on this one. Leading with your boundaries is akin to suggesting you expect me to take advantage of you. It’s an assumption that kills communal creativity and the sense of trust necessary for professional working relationships. I’m not suggesting boundaries should be transparent or non-existent. I’m suggesting that fellow professionals don’t need to be reminded, especially preemptively, that those boundaries exist. It’s simply understood.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 2:56 pm

This is a very mature perspective, Erica:

It’s an assumption that kills communal creativity and the sense of trust necessary for professional working relationships.

In your own practice, have you ever run into boundary issues with clients who don’t seem to get it right from the start?

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Hillary Weiss January 28, 2013 at 3:04 pm

Erica, I agree with you that in some instances there can of course be a mutual unspoken understanding about limits & boundaries between two professionals. But in my experience, it has not always been so simply understood. It’s also hard to create a solid professional working relationship based around assumptions.

I think the logic behind explaining boundaries from the beginning (stipulating them in a kind & clear manner of course) is to make the client in question aware of the way you work, so they will not be disappointed or confused in the future should be you unable to meet a particular request.

As far as not throwing boundaries in someone’s face & putting concrete walls up around yourself – agreed completely there, there’s a right and wrong way to do this. But we must remember, people often create clear boundaries to protect themselves from negative experiences repeating themselves. I would hope this is not something a fellow professional would take personally.

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Erica January 28, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Abby ~ In the beginning, yes. But hindsight being 20/20, I can’t blame my clients for taking advantage. I set the example and they followed suit. In time, I realized I attracted clients who naturally respected me when I respected *myself* (including my own boundaries). I didn’t need to espouse them; I simply embodied how I wanted to be treated and clients responded accordingly. In this sense, I believe Paul (above) articulated this more clearly than I. The boundaries are invisible; it’s the energy that shifts.

Hillary ~ You make an excellent point in that assumption can kill a relationship faster than anything else. But the issue is that we make them from both sides of the fence. We cannot assume, for instance, that a client expects us to respond during a holiday if they’re simply catching up on emails in their free time. My concern is that we’re assuming expectations without even having set them in the first place (in either our correspondence, contracts, or sales pages) and then seething with resentment when we work beyond our comfortable lines in the sand. We must take the responsibility first.

In circling ’round Abby, I’m not certain that Danielle’s post gives a newbie practitioner license to consistently over-deliver. I recognize Danielle is an inspiring and influential force, but this would suggest that as entrepreneurs, we don’t have the capacity to take responsibility for our own time management and business acumen. We all have lessons to receive, but surely we’re not all shifting and shuffling our approach simply because a (popular) entrepreneur suggests a different approach. Again, it all comes down to taking responsibility ~ for ourselves and our own experience in the creative business process.

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abby January 29, 2013 at 10:44 am

The boundaries are invisible; it’s the energy that shifts.

Good way of putting it, Erica. I’m also reminded that there are many ways we can present our brand conversation that establishes these healthy, invisible boundaries up front. Much of it comes down to tone, relationship style, and what is (and is not) said on the page.

We all have lessons to receive, but surely we’re not all shifting and shuffling our approach simply because a (popular) entrepreneur suggests a different approach. Again, it all comes down to taking responsibility ~ for ourselves and our own experience in the creative business process.

I would love to believe this is true, but sadly (as Tara Gentile pointed out in the comments section of a past post of mine), we see a LOT of ‘dilettante-ism’ or The Ingenue Complex on the online microbusiness stage. I myself have fallen prey to that in business seasons past, wanting to model my business after other ‘stars’ who dazzled me with the WAY they seemed to conduct themselves. If I had a nickel for every fledgling business owner client who’s told me, “I want to do X, Y, and Z because A, B, and C do that . . .”

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Erica January 29, 2013 at 1:23 pm

Good point. But that’s a far larger problem than simply failing to set appropriate boundaries, no?

By the way, excellent (and respectful) discussion you’ve facilitated. Thanks for this.

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abby January 29, 2013 at 1:48 pm

Glad you’re here!

SWIM January 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm

As a friend of Hillary’s and involved in a completely different industry than you folks — I didn’t go into this conversation thinking it had much to do with the problems I’ve been having at work. I’ve long been one of Hillary’s confidants and she mine, so I am have heard a lot about the many things that lead her to make the decision to revamp her business. She had never really made the connection for me that this was in many ways about boundaries, but it all makes perfect sense now, and has actually given me the answer I’ve been looking for with why I am really struggling at work right now and in the midst of a quarter-life crisis.

As a fellow type A, ambitious, hard-working, perfectionist, I go into everything I do at 300%. This has a tendency to impress people, which gives me positive reinforcement and propels me ahead in life, until I reach a point where those 4am 911 calls Hillary describes getting become a daily occurrence. I lose my sense of what part of my day is “work” and what part of my day is “me,” and I don’t get to enjoy the few short vacations I take.

This works just fine for me for the first few months, until whomever it is who has come to expect 100%YES from me doesn’t get what they want, and then starts to view me as falling short of what my job description has morphed into (my own doing by not setting boundaries and expectations correctly), and is unhappy with my performance. The reality is that even with these shortcomings, I have far exceeded what was initially expected of me in the first place — yet the person’s perception has long lost sight of that. Eventually this leads to resentment by me of my boss because I don’t feel appreciated, and I have a meltdown and figure out how to tactfully eject from the situation so I don’t lose the reference.

After a year of unemployment (while sorting out my life after my last meltdown), my stellar resume (which of course tells only half of the story) finally landed me another prestigious position working for a very powerful person last August. The honeymoon period was great, lasting well into November, when my usual 300% overload starting to burn my engine out just a little, forcing me to turn it down a notch — let’s just say it went down to 150% percent. Granted, to me, it still seemed like I was doing more than I was ever asked to, and I believed that my numerous contributions to the success of the team over the honeymoon period would sustain my relationship with my boss while I recharged a little during the holidays.

When I stopped answering every one of the 4am 911s, taking calls while hiking in the mountains or while at dinner with my significant other, the relationship with my boss fractured and I started to get the cold shoulder treatment. While I had not in any way at the job I had been hired to do, I had failed the expectations I had set for myself in his eyes, and now was not his friend, but someone he could just coldly send orders to.

I have been very privately angry at him for not appreciating me at all and also hurt because it seems like he doesn’t like me anymore. This is all a crisis that I created by not setting initial boundaries to mold expectations. I could have done 150% all along, still impressed him, have made the same amount of money, and he would actually like me MORE than he does now.

Now the question is; is it possible to repair this relationship at this point? He has not shown much understanding in my previous attempts to fix things. Is it best for me to just move on? At least now I know the questions I need to answer thanks to this discussion!

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abby January 28, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Hi, SWIM –

Oh, what a pickle. I have found myself in similar scenarios, both when I was employed by others and while I was self-employed.

More than likely, the ‘cold shoulder’ you’re feeling from your employer is due to his picking up on an emotional response you’re having about having over-delivered and being under-appreciated for it (in your eyes), and doesn’t have to do with your performance at all. You say you’re still delivering 150%.

I think the best route would be to ask for an honest, casual chat with your employer. Let him know you see yourself as someone who expects a lot from him/herself, and that you’re someone who has a high value on being excellent. Point to 3-5 ways you’ve brought value to his business, have been a great team-player, and have taken the lead in your own awesome way. Then let him know that you’re trying to find a way to bring the same level of excellence to your work without getting burned out. Reiterate how much you enjoy working for and with him. And state what you’re going to continue to do that will serve his business well. Also feel free to bring up one or two of your non-negotiables for the way you now want to contribute. For instance, try, “I’m happy to be on-call from 7 AM to 6 PM Monday-Friday, as stated in my contract, but I won’t be answering calls at 4 AM any longer. I hope this works for you.”

Career coaches, how’m I doing? Anyone else want to share some perspective with SWIM?

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Tamisha January 29, 2013 at 10:03 am

Oh SWIM, how I can identify with THIS! :-) I have been in this situation oh so so many times. I’m not a career coach per se, but I do work with people in the areas of assertiveness & setting boundaries, which often rears its ugly head in the context of corporate condundrums.

Because I so identify with exactly what is happening to you, I also know that you more than likely hold a high value in pleasing others and creating results. You stated you go out of your way in the beginning to achieve this, and you do it well.

I am in agreement with Abby’s statement below that your employer could be picking up on an emotional response that you’re unhappy. However, some people are not as astute to emotional awareness. My gut says that it’s more about your manager’s inner struggles that they can’t control you.

This sounds to me like a manager who doesn’t have any boundaries him/herself. I can’t apologize – unless you’re in The Devil Wears Prada, there is no excuse for 4 a.m. calls. I could understand if this was somewhat outlined in some sort of up-front contract, but not otherwise. This person has no professional boundaries.

The moment you started respecting your own, their lack of boundaries was threatened (in my experience).

Something to keep in mind: being liked at work is unfortunately a perk – it should always come after respect. Your manager may be ticked you have boundaries (since they may not have many), and they may be ticked you have lost a little steam, but it is not your job to be liked by your boss. That is icing. It IS your job to be respected for the work you contribute and the good work you do. That’s it.

I currently work full time myself, and I can tell you there are people who don’t like me – for whatever reason (I’m a pretty likeable gal). But at the end of the day, it cannot be about who likes who or who thinks I’m “cool” as Abby so eloquently wrote about recently. Cool doesn’t make the business run. Respectable work makes the business run, and it sounds like that’s what you are – respectable.

I am 100% in agreement with Abby’s advice to set up a meeting. I know they’re hard – I know they’re uncomfortable, but this is an opportunity to flex your assertive muscle and stop the passivity cycle. The constant wandering “does he/she like me?” “I wonder if they’re mad…” doesn’t serve you or the company.

Remember that being assertive is the great balance between being aggressive and passive – it’s stating what your capable of, the positives (as Abby so nicely wrote out) you contribute to the company, and it establishes the respect factor. In keeping with knowing being liked is only a necessity.

In my experience, respected people eventually are very liked. And even if people don’t say it, respect always wins.

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Tamisha January 29, 2013 at 10:05 am

“In keeping with knowing being liked is only an *option.” (oops)

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Amanda February 4, 2013 at 12:37 am

I’m there with you. All of this is definitely resonant of how I’ve done business in the past, which has left me completely bananas and burnt-out. (Read: Amanda has problems with healthy boundaries…)

It’s heartening to read that I’m not the only one who’s struggled with the “LEMME DO THIS ‘CAUSE I CARE!!” in detriment to our biz and selves. Forward motion, amirite?

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Abby Kerr February 6, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Forward motion is where it’s at. I learn something from every difficult business situation and I try to put it into practice (in a healthy, non-exaggerated way) the next time ’round.

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Allegra Stein January 28, 2013 at 1:29 pm

I think this is especially important when the business is so young. I am so enthusiastic about building the vision I have for my work and overdelivering on value that I can easily see myself relaxing boundaries or not setting them up early enough. As crazy as this might sound, being a full-time-mom I see working on my business as a form of self-care! I know I need to be careful with this.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Hi, Allegra –

being a full-time-mom I see working on my business as a form of self-care!

I actually think this is a beautiful perspective! And as your business grows and your client base expands, you will probably naturally see where you need invite more boundaries in to play.

Glad you’re here!

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Miki DeVivo January 28, 2013 at 1:40 pm

I love the distinction you make here–There is putting your whole self into doing your best work, which is very important. But I think in a lot of ways it’s our boundaries that make up and define our best work. Our boundaries define our USP, and our niche, and our signature services. What we will do and what we won’t do, helps us position ourselves within our industry. Focusing on this and not that helps us to achieve mastery. As a photographer, I know that the types of gigs I will and won’t take are at the very foundation of my best work and my business.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Focusing on this and not that helps us to achieve mastery.

So well said, Miki. Thank you!

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Theresa Reed January 28, 2013 at 1:42 pm

I totally understand and appreciate Danielle’s post on boundaries and yours as well.

In my line of work, there is an intimacy that requires healthy boundaries. Too little and not only do I get run ragged but it also creates a cycle of dependency that is not good for either one of us. Most of my partnerships have been done via the handshake method – but that has been a bummer on a few occasions and I found myself seething underneath. I’m all about opening up the door wide and being uber friendly as well as easy to reach – but that doesn’t mean that I want to be available like a convenience store for any body to just walk in.

How do you find the balance between having a good boundary but not coming off like a total bitch?

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abby January 28, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Hi, Theresa.

I’m thankful you asked this question. I think the line you’re describing is the one many of us try to walk. (Including myself.)

I’ve noticed that, for me, there’s a difference between being accessible (which I am — here in the blog comments, and throughout most days on multiple social media platforms) and available (which to me means, I will rearrange my planned schedule to accommodate X, Y, or Z, or I will do that rush job). In other words, I feel good about being accessible, but not good about being available on terms other than my own. I suspect that this comes down to your personality and the type of work you deliver, and what your client relationships require for them to make the best sense.

If you’ve taken the Voice Values assessment, there are clues in the write-ups for each Value that can point to how to message to Right People who are attracted to the Value you’re naturally strong in. For example, if you have a high Intimacy value, people attracted to that appreciate you communicating a boundary in a certain style, whereas if you have a high Playfulness or Accuracy value, the delivery’s going to ‘sound’ a lot different.

Hope this helps! Thanks for commenting.

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Shelby Edwards January 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Abby, thanks for this. I think it is a great post. I juggled a big corporate job, writing, and consulting for several years and now just do my own work. My customers are senior leaders at private companies and they expect and need me to be clear on the boundaries of a contract and our work together…this gives them reassurance, allows them to plan, and in their eyes is a basic expectation of a senior professional. We set expectations for accessibility and for anything outside the scope as well. All done with a light touch and without a lot of fuss. There are a few clients and key leaders that can call me anytime for help, but they pay accordingly for that access, and again trust me to manage myself and time. The next step this year is to create a retainer category for the one or two firms that want me speed dial. Yearly contract, paid up front in six months intervals, but even that will have clear boundaries. Without being heavy handed about it, creating some sort of “frame” allows me to do better work and have the freedom to act on exciting projects that pop up.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 3:21 pm

Thanks for this, Shelby. Reading your comment is like drinking a cool glass of water. Setting and holding boundaries in a client-provider relationship CAN be done with grace, efficiency, and class. I especially appreciate this part:

We set expectations for accessibility and for anything outside the scope as well. All done with a light touch and without a lot of fuss. There are a few clients and key leaders that can call me anytime for help, but they pay accordingly for that access, and again trust me to manage myself and time.

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Wendie Tobin January 28, 2013 at 4:22 pm

Disclaimer: I’m not too familiar with DLP OR DLP’s “right people,” but I am and deal with creative, entrepreneurial-minded women looking to make a difference on this planet.

I haven’t had a chance to read through the responses; perhaps this has been discussed. In regards to this:

“I’ve done mighty big deals on a hand shake. Other than purchase orders with my printer, I do not have contracts with any of my team, vendors, or agents. Could this bite me in the ass? Sure. Has it ever? Nope. Not once in all my entrepreneurial years. Not once.”

My clients entrust the image, brand, voice, and copy direction of their businesses to me. That’s a huge responsibility and honor that I assume with zero percent flippancy.

Taking good care of my own business—using contracts, protecting the assets and resources of my company, employing general good sense—sends the message that I place large importance on items of large importance.

So, it’s romantic to think of living in a world where deals are closed with a handshake and a cup of coffee; If I were on the observation deck, it wouldn’t instill confidence. I consider it a reckless handling of the books.

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abby January 28, 2013 at 4:40 pm

Thanks for weighing in, Wendie! I keep coming back to this idea: that so much of what we’re individually comfortable with in business comes down to what we value. I sense a high Enthusiasm value in the advice given in the post that inspired me to write this one.

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Wendie Tobin January 28, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Absolutely. Knowing that two of my Voice Values are Excellence and Depth, I have an intrinsic need to ensure a premium result.

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abby January 29, 2013 at 10:46 am

As do I. :)

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Tim Kastelle January 28, 2013 at 6:08 pm

This is a great question & conversation Abby.

As others have said, I think there are parts of both views that are correct. From a big picture strategy standpoint, you must have boundaries. You can’t be everything to everyone and strategy is as much about figuring out what you won’t do as it is about anything else.

On the other hand, once you’ve figured out those broader boundaries, then doing everything you can to deliver to your niche is great. Doing great work doesn’t necessarily mean working weekends, or being available 24/7 though – it just means doing great work.

By the way, you’ve built an absolutely lovely community here. It’s one of the few sites around where the comments are always worth reading – which is a great reflection on both you and the community.

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abby January 29, 2013 at 10:47 am

Thank you, Tim. I’m excited to see who’s been showing up lately to participate in the conversation. Glad you’re a part of it, too!

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Allie January 28, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I truly believe that it’s all about the heart behind the boundary.

Setting boundaries can be daunting for myriad reasons, as many others have insightfully discussed above; no one wants to come across as entitled or overly aggressive, and most of us values-based business owners — especially the intuitive types — want our boundaries to be sensed rather than stated. But I think that communication of boundaries is distinct from the boundaries themselves. Danielle’s criticism, IMO, is not of the practice of setting or upholding boundaries; even though the title of the post is a declaration of war on boundaries, the content is all about calling people out on their boundary-wielding methods.

The problem, though, with jumping straight to methods is that it doesn’t ask the most important question: why. Why am I setting this boundary? If I’m putting up a lengthy auto-responder because I don’t want to be bothered and secretly want people to see how busy and important I am, the tone of the boundary (and the way people respond to it) is going to be very different than if I’ve authored that auto-responder because I know that many of my clients need 24-hour response times to feel reassured and I want to meet that need without living in my inbox all weekend.

When I started seeing boundaries as a practice that’s good for my client first, and good for me second, it gave me huge freedom in creating boundaries. It’s rather similar to a healthy relationship between a parent and child: the child may not like or understand the boundaries, but the parent knows that they are well substantiated and good. Boundaries aren’t (or shouldn’t be) all about making life easier for the service provider. They’re about creating clarity, making clients feel cared for, and building a business that’s sustainable (and thus able to help as many people as possible for as long as possible).

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Allie January 28, 2013 at 10:41 pm

And to clarify, I’m not saying that clients are like children! ;) I’m more speaking to the way that boundaries should be on behalf of the other and not only yourself, in the same way that a parent cares for a child.

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abby January 29, 2013 at 10:48 am

Danielle’s criticism, IMO, is not of the practice of setting or upholding boundaries; even though the title of the post is a declaration of war on boundaries, the content is all about calling people out on their boundary-wielding methods.

Very valid point, Allie. A lot comes down to tone and style and intention.

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Allie January 29, 2013 at 2:35 pm

I think it’s awesome, Abby, that you used this opportunity to create such a vibrant conversation here — I have so enjoyed reading everyone’s insights and experiences. Disagreeing respectfully has become a rare skill in our world, especially online, and you have such grace with it. Like you, I also gasped when I saw that post (no boundaries? what? why?) — but watching you transform your reaction into a conversation is beautiful and something I so admire. Thank you.

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Tamisha January 29, 2013 at 10:16 am

Allie – I love your take on boundaries, and the metaphor you used. I actually use this when I talk with women on the phone about their work environments or relationships. Most of the time, when we set boundaries, people may NOT understand them right off the bat, because to them, it feels rude or abrasive.

However, I like the metaphor because as children grow and become adults, they (we) certainly come to respect our parents in such a great way when we look back at those boundaries that seemed ridiculous at the time. And then, gratitude happens. Those boundaries kept us from making mistakes that could have seriously harmed us or put us in really bad situations.

When we ask others to respect our boundaries, we put out some serious long-term reaping for what we’ve sown.

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abby January 29, 2013 at 10:52 am

Hi, Tamisha! –

I find, too, that the great majority of clients respect knowing what the ethos of their service provider’s business is. I only one time had a client question WHY I try to keep work to within ‘business hours.’ Her exact question to me over the phone was, “Why is that? Do you have kids?” and when I explained to her that no, I don’t have children, but I’m trying to keep my work balanced with the rest of my life, she thanked me for modeling a good example. She explained to me that as a new business owner who was consistently working 60-80 hour weeks while raising a family, she wanted to GET to the place where she could work more sustainably.

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Tamisha January 29, 2013 at 11:33 am

Love that. And that’s something else about boundary setting for ourselves I like to teach about. We often think of them in terms of how the other person will view us and our work (restricting), but in reality, it teaches them about themselves, often more than it yields a response from our decisions. It’s such a beautiful part of boundaries I wholeheartedly believe in – that they actually don’t just free us and expand us, they open up others to see what’s possible for themselves. The way we treat ourselves inevitably sets such a beautiful standard for how we’d also like to be treated. In that moment, it causes that “hmm….if she can do that, I wonder what’s possible for me” thought, and THAT is genuine empowerment.

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Naomi Niles January 28, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Abby! I had a similar reaction. I wanted to understand what she was saying, but my first reaction was like, “ugh, no!” I sincerely want to believe that things can be the way she proposes. It would be a match made in heaven and make for some very joyful collaborative work.

However, I still cringe when I remember starting out and having the ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to makes this awesome.” attitude. I remember the subsequent working 16 hour days, 7 days a week for years, feeling taken advantage of, and finally giving into major burnout that I’m still recovering from years later.

Personally, I find boundaries refreshing when working with people because it sets expectations. If someone says to me, “I don’t do this, this, or this”, I say, “Cool! I don’t do this thing or that thing myself. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get started!”.

Usually though, I don’t state them upfront like others have said or if I have to it’s because it’s come up. Like, if a client says, “Can you chat on Saturday?”, I’ll say, “I’m out of the office on weekends, but we can certainly chat on Monday if you’d like”. There isn’t a need to get defensive about it and if you’re working with people who are overly pushy, they might not be a great fit anyway.

I will say though, I did once set an autoresponder in a moment of total overwhelm. I couldn’t see another way to deal with my email, handle the quick response times clients grew to expect, and get any work done. I got called out for it on a client’s blog, which hurt my feelings quite a bit. In retrospect, I would have handled the situation differently. Perhaps by using a more gentle method or contacting clients one-by-one to let them know the situation.

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Leah January 29, 2013 at 7:00 am

I’m so happy you wrote this, Abby. And I relate so much to what Naomi said above – “However, I still cringe when I remember starting out and having the ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to makes this awesome.” attitude. I remember the subsequent working 16 hour days, 7 days a week for years, feeling taken advantage of, and finally giving into major burnout that I’m still recovering from years later.”

I saw and appreciated that Danielle was trying to caution us against defense-mechanism, aggressive rules & regulations, like others said above — but the part where she specifically says she has nothing in writing with most of the people she works with — that’s irresponsible advice. Like you and Tara covered above, it’s not Danielle’s responsibility to write for the people who aren’t likely to take that advice with a grain of salt — but it does rub me the wrong way, for obvious reasons. I rather resent the suggestion that I’m not running a genuine, compassion-centric business just because I make my clients agree to a contract. Contracts protect both parties.

(I’m going to stop myself from rambling too much, because I mostly just wanted to thank you for writing this and for giving us a place for this dialogue.)

I assume the ultimate take away is: Boundaries are good. Being a bully is bad.

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Heather Thorkelson January 29, 2013 at 7:12 am

Leah, amen to this: “I rather resent the suggestion that I’m not running a genuine, compassion-centric business just because I make my clients agree to a contract. Contracts protect both parties.”

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abby January 29, 2013 at 10:54 am

I rather resent the suggestion that I’m not running a genuine, compassion-centric business just because I make my clients agree to a contract. Contracts protect both parties.

Me, too, Leah.

I assume the ultimate take away is: Boundaries are good. Being a bully is bad.

You said it.

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abby January 29, 2013 at 10:54 am

Like, if a client says, “Can you chat on Saturday?”, I’ll say, “I’m out of the office on weekends, but we can certainly chat on Monday if you’d like”. There isn’t a need to get defensive about it and if you’re working with people who are overly pushy, they might not be a great fit anyway.

Great example of how to frame a boundary in a non-confrontational, non-hostile way, Naomi. Makes me wonder: are we groomed to be such people pleasers in our society that asserting a boundary is seen as a potentially hostile act?

Sorry you had an issue in the past over an autoresponder. Argh.

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Maryna January 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm

Great conversation starter Abby! I have been an enthusiastic reader of DLP’s work and gifted her book, The Fire Starter Sessions, to dozens of clients/friends. I also gasped at her latest post. Honestly, it really rubbed me the wrong way and I spent yesterday digging through the “why”. Happy to find this enlightened and nuance discussion on your site today. The issue with DLP’s post is that she ignored context and nuance instead relied on her very specific brand of “bad assery”. In other words, she echoed her specific method as an universal standard and much got lost in the translation. Given that the vast majority of her readership are women, and women tend to have issues with perfectionism and boundary setting, the post feels like a misstep. As many of your readers have elegantly pointed out, we do have to be careful of using boundaries as a defensive mechanism, but in my own experience NOTHING is more empowering and efficient than clarity. Taking the time to clarify expectations upfront and creating a shared document to guide the process of developing an extraordinary outcome is key. I literally cringed at DLP’s bold declaration that she doesn’t use contracts! I ran a museum in L.A. for 6 years and in the first two I naively assumed working with creative visionaries that wanted to do good in the world was enough to create magic. Not surprisingly, conflicts brought clarity…. Lesson learned.

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abby January 29, 2013 at 1:49 pm

I ran a museum in L.A. for 6 years and in the first two I naively assumed working with creative visionaries that wanted to do good in the world was enough to create magic. Not surprisingly, conflicts brought clarity…. Lesson learned.

Excellent points, Maryna. Thank you for contributing! There’s nothing like a bummer situation to teach us what to do better next time. :)

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Tamisha January 29, 2013 at 4:46 pm

Hi Abby – I was just now able to read Danielle’s post on boundaries. Honestly, after reading it, what I got from it was the word “excessive.” I actually thought she framed the whole excessive vs. healthy well. Her wording made me understand the point she was trying to make – “overly verbose”, “absurdly long” isn’t good vs. “healthy living”, “healthy personal life” and “out[expletive]standing professional” is possible.

In the midst of her writing, she shares her personal experiences, which is where, IMO, she loses her wrong people. I like what Tara said about her right people being able see past her prose into her purpose. Well said.

I kind of already shared my two cents on boundaries in responses above, but all in all, I feel they are not only appropriate but necessary. In a nutshell, I am of the opinion they are the foundation for creating healthy systems around us.

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Abby Kerr January 31, 2013 at 9:39 am

Hi again, Tamisha –

I think boundaries and freedoms are necessary to balance each other in a society or any sub-culture of it. Same goes for working and personal relationships!

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Tari January 30, 2013 at 8:26 am

Danielle’s post came to my inbox too, & I liked what she had to say. I don’t think it was so much the boundaries themselves as the attitude that is projected when some of these are communicated. Sometimes we’re so focused on what WE are bringing to clients & trying to eliminate any hassle up front that we communicate in less-than-gracious style. Her emphasis is more a paradigm shift in attitude, I believe, than asking us to throw out the calendar & work all hours to make a client happy.

Compare what Allie Creative says in her “We’ll be Good Together if” sidebar http://alliecreative.com/design/ where, while affirming the prospect, she only touches on what she’s not wiling to work with. (And somewhere else on the site she very sweetly explains why she declines to list her phone number.)

I am rethinking my own ‘Working with Grace’ page to examine a few of the negatives I’ve communicated, to see how I can revise to inspire while asking the reader to examine a fit.

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Abby Kerr January 31, 2013 at 9:38 am

Attitude IS everything. That’s for sure!

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Nikki January 30, 2013 at 1:29 pm

There are some many well-thought out responses here, so I won’t pretend to have read them all in advance of posting this. However, I DID want to say that, as an avid reader/fan of DLP, I AM disappointed by her last post — but only because it’s wiiiide open to misinterpretation. (*See – ALL the comments above this one.)

I don’t think Danielle is recommending we all ditch with our healthy boundaries — the ones that protect us from being taken advantage of by needy clients or unscrupulous businesses (YES, sadly this DOES happen to the best of us, sometimes.)

Boundaries are OF COURSE necessary if we’re to run our businesses and not allow them to suck every last drop of energy out of us while utterly destroying our social lives/love lives in the process.

I’m just sorry that this post is at risk of being misinterpreted by clients who have no scruples about running the people they work with ragged. Note :: these tend to be the SAME clients who are bad mannered, impatient, and far from gracious no matter HOW much of yourself you smack down on the table in front of them. (So, red flag clients all around, then.)

LUCKILY, these types of people are few and far between. However, I would love to see Danielle write a counter post talking about WHY some boundaries ARE important.

xo

:: Nikki

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Abby Kerr January 31, 2013 at 9:38 am

Agreed, Nikki! The boundary-trampling clients ARE few and far between. For some reason, their behavior rankles longterm, though, doesn’t it?

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Amanda Krill January 30, 2013 at 5:01 pm

Oooh, thank you for saying this. I didn’t read Danielle’s post until I saw you reference it, and I haven’t read all of the above comments, but I’ve got to agree. Boundaries are where it’s at. You know why? Because without boundaries a client pushes too far. Pure and simple.

The person hiring you doesn’t care about your family life, or if you are spending enough time with your kids. They care about you paying close attention to the details on THEIR project.

I’ve worked with the person who wants you to be the person who says “‘I’ll do whatever it takes to makes this awesome”, but they don’t respect you after you say it. They run over you and push you until you are so stressed that you either flake out or bag the project altogether.

I know for sure that my work suffers when I try to be that person. I used to try to be that person, but now I place boundaries. I may work weekends – but that’s up to me. I don’t promise anything. I make work evenings – but that’s my call, not the client’s.

I’m at the point now that I won’t even work with a client who wants me to be that person.

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Abby Kerr January 31, 2013 at 9:42 am

Good for you, Amanda! Yeah, I’ve noticed that people who try to push boundaries or assert their “needs” for the working relationship up front aren’t as interested in participating in the process as they are in controlling the process. I’ve learned through the past few years what style of client-provider relationship I enjoy the most (and what style invites the best work to come to the table), and it’s become pretty darn easy to filter for that through my Is This You page and the nature of email responses I get from people early on in the process of deciding whether we’re a fit.

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Shanna January 30, 2013 at 10:33 pm

Thanks Abby for opening up this conversation. As a creative, I work with a variety of businesses, large and small, and diverse personalities within those businesses. I never lead with my boundaries, but I do make them clear via a contract that protects both parties.
Much of DLP’s post suggests qualities that can’t be quantified just because a client wishes for them or asserts them (make it awesome!). Honestly, I don’t even know what the hell that means. I work to make everything awesome. But, without a contract in place that spells out the number of revisions, maximum hours available for the project, etc. then one person’s idea of awesome is left to interpretation by another who things marginal is *awesome enough*
And, after *awesome delivery at any cost* is agreed to, at what point will *enough* truly be enough? Often I have found that a client’s inexperience in what they are looking for is apparent via their unrealistic expectations. Boundaries allow for mutual respect and for those expectations to exist in the realm of the reasonable. This is business, not the Camp Fire Girls annual picnic. I respect my clients and their boundaries–is it too much to ask them to respect mine?

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Abby Kerr January 31, 2013 at 9:45 am

. . . suggests qualities that can’t be quantified just because a client wishes for them or asserts them (make it awesome!).

And, after *awesome delivery at any cost* is agreed to, at what point will *enough* truly be enough? Often I have found that a client’s inexperience in what they are looking for is apparent via their unrealistic expectations. Boundaries allow for mutual respect and for those expectations to exist in the realm of the reasonable. This is business, not the Camp Fire Girls annual picnic.

You’ve said it, Shanna.

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Corrina Gordon-Barnes January 31, 2013 at 2:32 pm

I was greatly helped recently by our dear colleague Jac McNeil. I had a thorny client situation where I wanted to end a coaching relationship earlier than expected and needed to have that tough conversation with the client. Jac gave me the phrase, “Loving detachment” and it meant I could have the call with the client with my hand on my heart, repeating some version of, “I hear you – and we’re not the right match”. The client was determined to keep working with me and I was able to keep a true and open heart that wasn’t vulnerable to being manipulated into a choice that was wrong for me.

It felt like such a healthy boundary to stay strong with and I’m reminded of that Shakespeare line: “to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man”.

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abby January 31, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Hi, Corrina! –

Count on Jac for great, heartfelt advice. xo

This is a great perspective to look at boundary-holding from: “loving detachment.” Thank you for sharing this here.

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Alessandra February 1, 2013 at 2:11 am

Entrepreneurs do not know what boundaries are until they’ve had them broken, obliterated, challenged, stabbed and blown into smithereens.

I remember hiring a coach. She’s the first coach I hired. Why did I want to fire her within the first week? Because I’m an international business woman…logging many miles with many unexpected trips to make the hard earned cash to pay my service providers like this coach… who had a rigidity within her scheduling that I couldn’t change my appointment 7 weeks in advance without losing the session completely? I mean really. I just paid you $2500.00. I don’t think she really knew how much money that is… and frankly… I’d be surprised if she ever collected a fee like that again… last I heard… she was suffering.. making no money… and getting a job at the local drugstore… I have nothing against the local drugstore employees… but do you know what killed this woman’s business? Her funking boundaries she learned from her master coach.

In hindsight I knew this woman was a brand new entrepreneur. She had listened to someone like Abby Kerr touting “boundaries boundaries boundaries…”

When my client, who is a government in Southeast Asia asks me to have a call at 3am every Wednesday morning, what am I going to say? No. I’m sorry, I have boundaries and my phone is off from 9pm to 9am. And then after I refuse, I go on to tell them…Oh yeah… and your retainer’s due. You can wire the 20K to my chase account tomorrow… really guys… some of these coaches are so amateurish it’s ridiculous.

Unless you are married with a spouse who supports you or have a trust fund… or really don’t need the cash… then do what you want… but to be successful… to create amazing success…. you’ve got to work your bum off… there are no exceptions… there is sometimes luck… but that is rare…

My advice to these newbie inexperienced coaches? Follow Danielle Laporte’s advice for at least the first year… see what works for you… have no boundaries with your clients.. get run over… feel every overstep, every call after 10pm… observe and learn… it’s then and only then that you’ll be able to understand how to set real boundaries for yourself… not the ones prescribed to you by these so called “expert coaches coach.” It’s absurd.

And really, do I want to take advice from someone who hasn’t had their boundaries run over by a truck? Not really. Because anyone who has lived in the real world and worked in real business has been run over and had their boundaries pushed to the limit.

These online coaches cults need to get real and take Danielle Laporte’s advice and get dirty.

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Nikki February 1, 2013 at 7:31 am

“…have no boundaries with your clients.. get run over… feel every overstep, every call after 10pm…”

Sure, if you want to completely dispense with your self-respect. Boundaries are about self-care. And every single boundary that I’ve put in place is because I’ve been “run over” MORE than once. My reaction to this isn’t “YEAH GIMME MORE! NOW I’M A REAL ENTREPRENEUR!!!!!!!!!” Instead, each time it has deeply affected me and caused me to reassess how I do things.

Boundaries don’t just affect our businesses, they affect every area of our lives — and they’re intrinsically tied up with the way that we feel about ourselves and how much we value ourselves.

Your advice is like telling someone to go and find a man who’ll trample all over them, cheat on them, abuse them, villify them — and only THEN can they be permitted to have a relationship with a man that will give them the respect they deserve.

Just my opinion.

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Abby Kerr February 6, 2013 at 12:48 pm

Great analogy, Nikki. Thanks for weighing in.

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Abby Kerr February 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Interesting perspective, Alessandra. I don’t agree with you, but I will add that we are each on our own journey and some people need to learn in more painful ways than other do. Here, on this site, I support a healthy, balanced approach to working (and living) from a place of truth, integrity, excellence, and love.

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Wendie Tobin February 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

From where I sit, I don’t hear Abby Kerr or any of the entrepreneurs I respect, follow, admire, or collaborate with, touting a business plan that denies an appointment reschedule. I’m not surprised customer care of that nature has led your previous coach to her new vocation.

Somewhere along the way, inflexibility and rigidity have crossed wires with the definition of boundaries. They are two entirely different concepts. Advising newbies (or any business owner) to “get run over”? Please, no.

I HAVE worked in the “real world.” I was a construction project manager for over a decade. It was an extremely male-dominated industry in which my boundaries were challenged, poked, pushed, shoved, in EVERY way you can imagine. Guess what? I didn’t ever allow myself to be run over. I WAS successful. It CAN be done with out being inflexible, acting like a (insert appropriate expletive here), or setting rigid standards. When you are clear on who you are and communicate that in a way in which your boundaries aren’t put forth like a shield of armor, you can tend to the client’s needs in a way that feels good to everyone.

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Abby Kerr February 6, 2013 at 12:49 pm

I WAS successful. It CAN be done with out being inflexible, acting like a (insert appropriate expletive here), or setting rigid standards. When you are clear on who you are and communicate that in a way in which your boundaries aren’t put forth like a shield of armor, you can tend to the client’s needs in a way that feels good to everyone.

Yes. Boundaries don’t mean being a bitch, acting in an immature, childish way, or operating from a Place of No.

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