How to Set Boundaries with Clients
Boundaries are essential to a healthy relationship with any client. Sometimes coaches allow problematic client behaviors to continue for fear of upsetting, or even losing, the client. This sets a precedent that can lead to bigger problems down the road.
You need to decide, as the coach, what boundaries are important to you. Identify comfortable physical, mental, emotional and spiritual limits before starting out with clients. And for when you do start, here are 6 ways to set and preserve your boundaries.
- Respect your own time. Starting late or staying late are options for extreme situations. Do not allow clients to take advantage of you to suit their schedules.
- Communicate effectively. Some clients will have similar communication styles to yours, and some will not. Learn the difference and have appropriate conversations early on.
- Stay in control. If you are losing control of the relationship with your client, be assertive. Even when clients are unaware that they are stepping over set boundaries, they need a firm reminder.
- Say no and mean it. This can be a difficult skill to learn but it’s essential when coaching a client, and in life. Say no to activities that take up too much time or energy. Say no to conversations that are inappropriately personal.
- Set client expectations early and consistently. In your email, for example, make a signature or footer that identifies working times and how soon clients might expect a response from you. Keep the client informed and hold your ground.
- Be done with guilt. Never feel guilty about the boundaries you set or the decisions you make. A client who doesn’t like your boundaries may use manipulation or guilt to change them, and those clients may be better served by a different coach
Setting boundaries with your clients should never be considered a bad thing in a coaching relationship. Your professionalism establishes you, the coach, as a leader, and a relationship based on mutual respect builds trust and sets your client up for a greater potential future.
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