Clients without boundaries can make you want to rip your hair out as a VA.
What does a client without boundaries look like? Here’s a quick list of examples! Boundaries aren’t healthy when a client…
- calls after working hours expecting you to answer
shares anything of a sexual nature with you (buying lingerie for their wife, asking if you can help set up a threesome… yes, this has happened)
asks for intimate details of your life, or provide them about theirs if the relationship is very professional. This can depend on their rapport with the VA, and vice versa.
dictates tasks to be done “within 30 minutes” -- when you’re off in 15 minutes -- I could also argue that anytime this is not acceptable, but that’s for another post.
tells you that you’re “going to need to come in on Saturday for a few hours…”
requests/dictates that you work certain hours/days/holidays (as a contractor, legally, you have to set your hours, workdays, and holidays -- not the client.)
I have heard so many horror stories from my VA colleagues about clients who don’t respect their boundaries. As a VA, it’s your job to set expectations and boundaries from the beginning of a relationship. This is so important because it sets the tone for what your working relationship will be like. Your boundaries let the client know where you stand on working hours, workdays, holidays, methods of communication, and what an ideal client relationship looks like.
When clients don’t respect your boundaries, it starts to make you resent the relationship. Do you have clients you resent? That’s a good indicator that someone’s not enforcing their boundaries. Take a deeper look at the relationship and see where one of you is compromising your relationship. Yes -- one of you -- it could be you, too.
Every time you work outside your hours, answer an 11pm call, work through a Saturday, bend the rules, shop for lingerie, skip a holiday, or my favorite -- “just do that one thing really quick ‘cause it takes just a few minutes even though it’s midnight on Saturday…” you teach clients to disrespect your boundaries.
I give everyone on my first dibs list a video about what makes them a great client for me, which introduces boundaries before we’ve ever even worked together. It’s pretty amazing, and I’m so grateful that the clients I’ve signed from my waitlist have loved the video. It’s amazing to set the relationship up for success from the beginning.
Boundaries seem rigid. They seem exclusive, like they’re keeping people outside and away from parts of your life. Honestly, they’re just as much keeping IN the things you desire. Do you want more time with your family? Do you want more time for yoga? Do you want to work Tuesday through Saturday? Boundaries help keep these desires in place, so that you have a productive working relationship with your clients, and vice versa.
If you don’t know what your boundaries are, and need to figure those out, we’ve made a handy worksheet for you! It will help you brainstorm where you want your boundaries to be, as well as what’s really good about working with your clients.