Nov 30, 2020

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text reads "how to deal when clients push back" over a pink background. "deal" is multi-colored

let’s talk about boundaries

Okay, I’m going to go out on a limb here: I bet a lot of you don’t have boundaries. That’s exactly how I used to be. I lived most of my life not even knowing what boundaries were. If someone asked something of me, I had to say yes.

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I’m throwing it back to a classic episode of The Anxious Creative. This is one of the all-time favourite episode of my podcast and I’m really happy that we’re bringing it back.

‘Cause let’s be honest, you’re struggling with boundaries.

And I get it, I used to be the exact same way. I lived most of my life not even knowing what boundaries were. If someone asked something of me, I had to say “yes”.

I honestly didn’t think “no” was an option.

Now that I’ve realized how important boundaries are, not just in business, but in life and any relationship, I don’t know how I survived without them (to be completely transparent, I was barely surviving).

I’ve come a long way with boundaries and believe me, if this people-pleasing girl can learn to have boundaries, you can too.

You Teach People How to Treat You

Tell me if any of this sounds familiar:

  • “I can’t believe Karen texted me again for an appointment. Doesn’t she know I have online booking?!”

  • “Suzie emailed again to get squeezed in at the last minute. It’s like she doesn’t care about my schedule at all!”

  • “OMG Sharon showed up late and now she’s asking me to stay later. Why doesn’t she respect my time??”

I get it. I’ve so been there. I used to get so upset with my clients texting me at all hours, asking to get squeezed in and it always felt like they didn’t respect me at all. 

But here’s the thing, I gave out my personal number to my clients (we’re friends, so of course I would!), but I never communicated to them that it wasn’t to be used for business. 

Fast forward to me moving to online booking and I told my clients that they could schedule their own appointments. But… 

I also told them if they didn’t see any availability online to text me and I could squeeze them in.

Classic people-pleasing Dawn. I wanted to say “yes” to everyone and anything. I couldn’t imagine saying “no”, because, what if it upset them? What if they got mad at me and decided to never come back? They’d obviously tell all their friends how terrible I am and I would never have any clients ever again.

(Sounds kinda silly when you read it, doesn’t it?)

I thought I was frustrated with my clients, but really, I was frustrated with myself because I gave them permission to walk all over me. 

Realizing that I taught my clients (and everyone else in my life) how to treat me wasn’t easy to accept at all. 

Respecting Yourself

Communicating boundaries can help people understand why they’re walking into a wall where there used to be an open space. 

The number 1 thing that helped me with boundaries was realizing that they’re about protecting and respecting yourself, not about keeping other people out. 

Putting yourself first is hard when you’re a people-pleaser. Remembering that it’s not about closing a door, but showing them where the door is. 

When I first started putting boundaries in place I had no idea how to do it and I kinda just went for it. It put a strain on my relationships when I started enforcing my boundaries as it changed the dynamic of it. 

There was one time that I started enforcing my boundaries and a friend (not realizing it) overstepped one of my boundaries. I immediately felt nauseous and disappointed in myself. I realized that I needed to apologize to them. 

It was difficult to take responsibility for my boundaries not being respected, but I knew it was what I needed to do. 

“I’m sorry, but this is a boundary for me and I didn’t respect that. This isn’t about keeping you out, this is to keep me healthy because I desire a healthy relationship with you”

Just because you decide to set a boundary, it doesn’t mean it will all of a sudden be understood. Redeveloping relationships with boundaries can be difficult. 

You don’t owe it to anyone to explain your boundaries, but if you can communicate them with someone it can help move the relationship forward. 

Boundaries in Business

If you think setting boundaries in personal relationships is difficult, just wait until you start enforcing them in your business. 

Especially if you’ve been allowing your clients to walk all over you. 

It’s important to remember to educate your clients on your boundaries or new ways of doing things. Be gentle when it comes to the communication. Remember, they’ve gotten used to a certain routine and changing that up is not going to be comfortable. 

Explaining that you’re setting these boundaries FOR them, instead of AGAINST them, can help ease the newness for them. Showing them that this will give them a better experience in the end will help them to respect your boundaries. 

Remember that you will need to remind them several times. Our brains learn quicker than our reflexes. 

Don’t get frustrated when your clients don’t get it right away. Kindly, compassionately, and empathetically communicate your boundaries again. Remember, you teach people how to treat you.

Dealing with Pushback

It’s going to happen. There’s no way around it unfortunately. There will be people who try to see just how far they can push your boundaries.

When those testing moments occur it can be easy to want to simply say:

“This is the way it is.”

I used to cave and crumble when someone pushed back on a boundary. And what use are boundaries if they aren’t enforced? 

It came down to me not being confident enough. The more confident and self-assured we really are about our boundaries, the more they’re going to stick. 

It’s easy to set boundaries, it’s hard to keep them. 

It can be super scary to respect your own boundaries because it means getting uncomfortable and making people unhappy. 

I used to fear that when people were unhappy it meant that they didn’t like me. 

Being an empath can make that even more difficult because I feel others emotions before I feel mine and I immediately want to try to smooth things over and “fix” it. 

You aren’t responsible for other people’s emotions. 

Setting boundaries will cast a lot of light on your relationships and who you choose to associate with. Those who don’t have boundaries won’t like it when you set them.

And I’ll tell you this: It’s easier to not have boundaries, but you won’t be as happy or satisfied. Creating boundaries is up to you.

Your happiness and thriving makes you a better version of YOU, and the people in your life deserve the best version of you. Even if they don’t like the boundaries the best you requires.

You deserve to be happy, and your happiness is YOUR responsibility.

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I am just a small-town, Canadian gal from the prairies who teaches thousands of creatives around the globe how to earn 6-figures stress-free!

Hey, I’m Dawn!

“Rock Your Business” Course Creator, Host of “The Anxious Creative” Podcast. Named by Salon Magazine as Canada’s #1 women of influence.

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