How to Set Boundaries with Clients

Video Cliffs Notes

The Core Issue

In a high-touch, customer-centric business it is essential to cultivate intimate relationships with your customers.

When you have a strong personal connection with your clients you:

  • Have a deeper understanding of their needs and preferences
  • Develop mutual trust
  • Create long-term relationships

The challenge is that:

  • It is hard to balance the professional aspects of your relationship with your personal caring and empathy.
  • Without clear boundaries, there are bound to be missed expectations.
  • One or both parties will often grow resentful when the relationship doesn’t honor the needs of both.

3 Steps to Setting Boundaries with Clients

1. First, get clear about your needs and boundaries.

  • Make a list of what you are willing to do and not willing to do.
  • Consider all aspects of your relationship: services you offer, how you’ll communicate, how you’ll get paid, what happens when there is a conflict.
  • Communication is the most common area where boundaries are needed.

2. Set expectations early in the relationship

  • Define expectations at the start of each new relationship
  • Consider having a client/member handbook or written contract
  • Be ready to negotiate (or not)

3. When a line is crossed, address it immediately.

  • Use skills from Crucial Conversations
  • Lean into these issues with curiosity and empathy
  • The longer you wait to address the issue the stickier it becomes