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August 1st, 2018

This week I wanted to talk to you about this subject of “training people how to treat you.”

There’s a quote by Stephen Covey that reads “I teach people how to treat me by what I will allow.” This has been a popular quote floating around for some time and books and speeches on the subject abound. While the concept does hold water, I think it can sometimes come off like it’s all your fault if somebody else is being an a-hole. And that’s just not right. That’s not what we’re talking about here. This isn’t victim blaming. But there comes a point in professional relationships where the problem you’re complaining about CAN be attributed to what you’ve allowed a client to get away with.

If you have allowed a client to push your boundaries to the point that you don’t really even have boundaries anymore; that they get to decide when they get an appointment; they get an extra 15 minutes every session simply because they ask and you can’t seem to say no; they repeatedly no-show you with no repercussion; they always get a special discount just because they guilt you into it. Whatever the case may be, if you’ve allowed that behavior, if you’ve not said no when your gut was screaming it, if you’ve felt guilted into doing anything you weren’t comfortable with, if you’ve made accommodations that didn’t suit the best interest of you or your business…all these things YOU have allowed to happen. I know that’s not something a lot of you want to hear, but it needs to be said.

There’s a great quote by Seth Godin that I think is a bit more fitting… “You can spend your time on stage pleasing the heckler in the back, or you can devote it to the audience that came to hear you perform.” This can be applied to all of your marketing and client interactions. Focus your whole energy on your ideal client; to those who respect and appreciate you; those who don’t try to push those boundaries. Forget about those that don’t fit your ideal clientele; forget about the few that push your boundaries, that don’t respect and appreciate you. You WANT to turn those people away! Would you expect any business to accommodate your schedule and compromise their own? Would you walk into a restaurant and demand they stay open past their hours or give you a discount just because you’re oh-so-special? NO! So why in the world is that suddenly acceptable behavior when it comes to a small or solo business like yours? Don’t even entertain these people into thinking they can do business with you if that’s what they’re expecting. If you let them get by with any of that behavior once, they WILL, without a doubt, continue to push again and again.

For those of you who are members with us at, your business article this week was about the 3 stages of difficult clients, so be sure to check that out. Part of training people how to treat you is making sure the person is trainable. What do I mean by that? When you say you take appointments from this time to that time; they don’t ever even think to ask for an appointments beyond that. When you state your prices, they don’t ask for a discount. When you say their time is up, they don’t ask for a few extra minutes. Those are the ones who “came to hear you perform” as Seth Godin says. Those are the people you should devote your time to, the ones who deserve and have earned the right to do business with you. You’ve got to remember, this is your business. This isn’t just something that pays the bills…I mean that’s a definite plus, but it also needs to be something that you love. Something that you enjoy going into work to every day. If not, what’s the difference in working for yourself?

I’ve said this before at some point…your clients are basically your employer, right? They pay your salary. But the great part of owning a business is that you get to choose your employer. You get to make sure that those bosses make you happy and respect you. If you’re going to work for a-holes, you might as well save yourself a lot of headache and money and just go back to being an employee.

So train your clients – make sure they know what you expect of them and what is acceptable in your business. It’s yours, not theirs. You get to make those decisions, not them.


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