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The term “boundaries” has become common vernacular in the entrepreneurial world, but its meaning and implementation often get muddy. “Boundaries” are often declared at a breaking point of resentment and frustration when client communication steamrolls the schedule for far too long, resulting in a highly uncomfortable (and often avoided) conversation.
In today's episode, you’ll learn how to have this conversation confidently. We’ll discuss not only how to set boundaries that work for your life and business (and why you should have them in place), but more importantly how to communicate them in a way that builds client trust.
In this episode, we'll dive into...
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Heather Sager 1:41
Well, hey friends, welcome back to another episode of the Heather Sager Show. Today, we're talking about boundaries. Now if you've ever found yourself in a situation where you are saying yes, but dying on the inside because you're saying yes to answering emails when you said you weren't going to or you said yes to a client request even though you don't want to do it but you don't want to piss them off or you just want to do your best. You want people to think of you as a high-quality producer.
Heather Sager 2:12
Boundaries really creep up on us and oftentimes as high achievers and people pleasers we want to serve our audience, we want to serve others. But there comes a point where we also have to be mindful of ourselves. In today's episode, we're going to talk about boundaries. Yes, a little bit about what they are and why we need to set them. But really the conversation I want to have today is how you communicate your boundaries in an effective way, how do you allow boundaries to help create trust between you and your clients, between you and your community, and not annoyance or disdain. Because I don't know about you but I've had situations in the past where when somebody has very much communicated their boundaries at me, it's kind of a turnoff. So how do you do it in a way that honors your audience and actually explains the benefit to them while maintaining what's true to you so that you can focus on the things in your life that actually matter? You can have time for relationships, you can have time for your family, and you're not pulling your hair out at 11:30 trying to finish up on client work. That's what we're diving into today.
Heather Sager 3:22
Alright, so let's talk about what are boundaries because I have to be honest with you, this was not a conversation that we ever had in the corporate world boundaries. If you are putting up boundaries and telling people around you that you weren't replying to emails on weekends or you weren't replying at night, people look at you like you're crazy because you said it out loud. So people would say, oh, good. We don't want you to work nights and weekends. There's a silent expectation and that carries everything into the entrepreneur world. So if you have a background in corporate, you probably carry that hustle-bustle from corporate with you quite a bit. And here's the thing, it's not that we're all trying to be workaholics. It's just we strive to do good work and it's a blend of having high ambition and knowing that with sheer do more we can get more done. There's that piece but there's also this piece of we want other people to like our work. We want people to be excited about our work and we want to say yes, so it's really hard.
Heather Sager 4:23
So let's talk about what are boundaries now. There's some definition of boundaries. I looked a couple up but here's what I think about. Boundaries for me are the perimeter between my work life and my home life. And I'll tell you as an entrepreneur, it's very blurry because here I sit in the guest bedroom of my house, which is now an office and right outside that door, My kindergartener is watching. I don't know what PJ Mask is probably nobody's watching but it's all approved. Don't worry. We got the code set up. But the work-life thing is pretty blurry working from home and especially this last year with schedules changing like crazy and Zoom kindergarten and everybody is home. It's like, where are the boundaries? It can feel really blurry.
So for me, boundaries are the predetermined perimeter between work and home. I don't view this as like a fortress. I am not one of those people that's business, keep business business, and personal personal. I started a business because I want to have a lifestyle business but I hate that term but you know what I'm saying, right? I want to be able to work when I want to work. Be able to create a business and a life that I love. And sounds so cheesy because it's like everybody in their mom's tagline but it's truly what I'm going after here so my goal isn't to have them be separate. I'm not like separate foods on the plate kind of person. I'm like, mash it all together and make it a bowl and it's delicious. Weird tangent. Yep, there you go. Welcome to the Heather Sager Show.
Heather Sager 5:45
So for me, it's like the goal isn't to keep them super strict. However, I do have to define tension points in my business and personal life where they seep over too much. That's where I need to put up a boundary or a wall so that's my definition of boundaries. I set specific areas of where I need to set boundaries, most likely stemming from pain points or disasters that have happened then I set boundaries. I'd love to be a little bit more proactive with it but that's where I'm at on it.
Heather Sager 6:14
Where you don't mind, here's a couple of scenes or the couple of definitions that I read. By setting your own boundaries, you're telling others how you want and expect to be treated. I thought that was really clear. By setting boundaries, you are telling others how you want and expect to be treated. I think that's really powerful. That's a conversation we're having a lot right now with having young kids. I want to teach my son that he's got to be clear with other people around how he wants to be treated. They're having like conversations right now around stranger danger and not allowing people to touch your bodies, this swift real south real quick. But like boundaries, it's not just about working home. There are like physical boundaries. There's emotional boundaries, mental boundaries, all those things. We're not talking about all those things today. Do some research. Get your boundaries in your life. Today, we're talking about the boundaries between life and work and where the two things kind of merge and crash and collide in our businesses.
Heather Sager 7:06
Another thing that I read was workplace boundaries help you achieve and safeguard that work-life balance and your sanity. I thought that was an interesting, beautiful thing. What we want to figure out here is the question is, do you need boundaries? And the answer is yes. In the last episode, my interview with Paige Schulte. I don't know why I said that so weird but Paige is awesome. We had a very candid conversation around how speaking shows up both in client work and in so many different aspects of our business but we talked a little bit about boundaries. And I went off on a tangent around how I'm really annoyed by boundaries. And this is the follow-up to that conversation because I felt like I needed to explain myself and also share a little bit and give you some insights around this.
Heather Sager 7:45
My frustration with boundaries is there seems to be a lot of communication in this. I'm going to get in trouble for this but this means I need to say it. In this lifestyle business online entrepreneur space, holy crap, I'm gonna tip over my water bottle because I just did some crazy hand gestures. If you're watching the video that was a real gem. But there's this ongoing vibe to live on the beach and work less and brag about it all the time, and how I see that often comes out is people then go and tell their clients all the times they don't work. So I'm super excited to get started on this project but just to be clear, I don't work on Mondays, and Tuesdays through Fridays, I only work until 2pm but I only started 11am and then I go to the beach on Fridays and so I answered emails between 10 and 11 o'clock on Fridays. So excited about this. I don't know why I did that that voice and obviously that's a very crazy extreme and nobody has that example but that's what it sounds like when people start projects and they tell people all their nose.
Heather Sager 8:54
Imagine this. Have you ever done one of those like diets that give you a list of all the things you can't eat? No sugar, no dairy, no gluten, no fun, no nothing, like whatever. It's all the no's. And even if you didn't eat those things before, all of a sudden you become obsessed with it but I want the donut, I want the cake, I want the cheese fries. I want all the things you just told me I couldn't have. It's not a great way to set anyone up for success. We don't want to focus on a ‘no’ list. What I'm going to talk to you today is about how do you focus on a yes list so that other people not only respect your boundaries, but they appreciate that. Yes, it's possible.
Heather Sager 9:32
Okay, so examples of boundaries, I don't work on weekends or you know, the ‘I don't communicate via email with clients. I communicate on Slack or on Voxer.’ A boundary would be you don't check Facebook after 8 pm. A new boundary to set for myself. I don't use Facebook on my cell phone. It's on my desktop only. You got to think about what are some boundaries and what it would look like for you. I'm not going to teach you how to set boundaries today. You need to set your own boundaries. There's probably a lot of resources online. You're also super smart. You have to go where there are friction and tension in my life between my work and my life, my relationships, my family, my health, my own sanity. Where's their friction and what could I do proactively to alleviate that friction? That's the question. That's for you to figure out where to set boundaries.
Finding the friction in your life and establishing your boundaries
Heather Sager 10:25
I would recommend coming up with a few things. Do not do that laundry list of all the no's because you're not setting yourself up for success. But could you pick one or two things where you can put some boundaries? Establish it, establish some trust within yourself that you can hold the line on those boundaries. That's what I would recommend. That's the first part here is to make sure that you're clear around where there's friction in your life so that you can set some boundaries and be more proactive for that. So whether that's you stopping work at a certain time for me. I stopped work at 445 because I leave to go get my little one, Levi, Baby Tank, as we call them from daycare, from preschool. I grab him and then I'm done for the night. I don't start work until nine o'clock in the morning because my mornings are quiet for the kids. I have some time for me. I get the kids ready. We do breakfast. I help my husband and everyone get out the door and then my day starts. I don't typically take calls before 10 am or 11 am depending on the days.
Heather Sager 11:23
I've worked, I figured it out over time and I'll tell you this, my boundaries, like my own rules for working home, they change frequently. Sometimes on the weekly, sometimes on the monthly, sometimes on the quarterly, but I'm always establishing how things are going and what needs to change. Your boundaries don't have to be so rigid and strict. The most important thing is the boundaries need to work for you so that you can maintain a quality of life, excitement, enthusiasm, relationships, all the things that you want. You want to make sure that you're doing it in a way that works for you. With that said, let's talk about how we communicate them because this is I think where so many people go wrong. And in that horrible example I just gave you around how somebody is like, Hey, I'm so excited to work with you. Here are all the times I don't work. That is not helpful, right? So we got to think about this.
Heather Sager 12:18
Boundaries, yes are for you. They are for you to protect your own mental, physical, relational well-being, all of those things. They're going to help you. You need to have them because even though we think we're machines and we can keep going all the time, we need to give ourselves rest and space. For the love of cheese, Moses, you need a hobby. Get a hobby. You need to do things for fun. I was just listening to Brene Brown, the Power of Vulnerability. It's audio. It's not a book, but I got it on Audible. It's like an audio program of six episodes. Oh my gosh, it's so good. Everybody needs to listen to this. It's so, so good. But there's this whole section around statistical research that shows that play is a huge piece of not being a serial killer.
Heather Sager 13:09
I know. This is like the weirdest show. I'm just going off all these tangents today. But she talks about how having fun and being able to enjoy free time and just enjoying being silly. That's the thing that was not present in all serial killers that were studied and like crazy people who've done terrible things. That's not the point of today's episode but I thought that was an interesting statistic. She talks about the study of how fun and play and silly and hobbies is actually a huge part about being wholehearted, living a wholehearted life. Which if you study Brene work or listen to her books, you know she talks a lot about vulnerability and shame and all of it leading to being able to show up fully in your life, being wholehearted. This is now my new mantra of how can Heather be more full-hearted in my life. You're gonna hear this a lot. I'm probably gonna talk about this book for weeks. You're welcome in advance.
Heather Sager 14:03
Coming back to it, we know why boundaries are so important for you. It is instrumental. You need to have a little gut check with yourself to say okay, so where do I need to slow down? Where is my friction? Where do I need to fill up my cup a little bit, you know, as they say, because you need to avoid burnout? You know it's coming. You know the headaches, they happen every once in a while when you start feeling sick or your immune systems down or when you start getting resentful of the projects that you loved but they're now bleeding over into some of that space you wanted. You start becoming resentful of your clients or community. We don't want that in our lives so we need to be proactive. We need to be proactive in how we set it up. That's what's really important so we keep that in mind when we're bringing this into communicating with clients in our community.
Heather Sager 14:50
But what we also have to be mindful is there are benefits for having set boundaries to our clients and communities, and I think a lot of times we kind of skip over this. I want to hit here today. I want you to see it here and I want you to write it down. What are some of the benefits of me signing off every day at 4:45? How does that better serve my community? What are some of the benefits of me not starting my day or saying no to opportunities that are outside of these hours? What are some of the benefits of me saying no to more podcasts interviews or what are some of the benefits of saying no to that specific event? What are some of the benefits of me not communicating on email with my clients? Whatever your list was, right, your boundary list, ask yourself, what are the benefits for my clients?
Heather Sager 15:36
So one of the big things, I'll give you some ideas here. You gotta come up with your own. What I know to be true is when I am constantly replying to emails and slack messages and Facebook posts and all this stuff all the time and I never turn off my brain, even though it feels like there is more output, it's like more, more, more, more connected. My cognitive function, let's be fancy, it's lowered. There's some impairment there when it's always on all the time, I can never be on my best.
So if I want to create higher-quality interactions with my community, if I want to be more thoughtful in my responses to my members inside of Speak up to Level up, if I want to get really quality coaching and feedback to my private clients, I have to make sure that I rest and create intention with how I show up. It means I need to be fully present in the moments where I show up and not semi omnipresent all the time because you and I both know when we're kind of keeping an eye on everything all the time, we're not really present. Quality is a huge benefit to our clients and our communities. It also sets them up, in my opinion, for better outcomes when they get more full attention from you without interruptions where you can wrap your brain around with a specific challenge and think about the context, the prior conversations, or what they might be feeling.
When you can bring a little bit more compassion, your clients or your community, they're going to get better outcomes, right? If you can bring them better quality, they're going to have a better payoff from that interaction so that is a win for them.
Heather Sager 17:10
This last one is a big one. The third benefit that I see that's really powerful when you exhibit good boundaries with your clients is you demonstrate leadership because I think on at least everyone that I work with. I'm an entrepreneur and I work with other entrepreneurs so your scenario might be a little bit different but hear me out.
People are always looking to you, not just for your area of expertise, but how you lead your business and your life. People look at you as more than just your subject matter of expertise. They look at you as a mentor and you are a leader to your community. Whether you have a team, whether you're on your own but if you have an audience even if it's just three people, people are looking to you as a leader. I don't know if you see yourself in this way or not but I hope you start seeing yourself as more of a leader in your industry, a leader to your community, a leader to your clients.
Leadership requires we walk the talk and we demonstrate how to better show up. When we don't have good boundaries, we send a message to our clients that they too need to be available all the time for their clients and the burnout, stress trickle effect happens and we're reinforcing that.
Heather Sager 18:22
But when we create strong boundaries, when we show up at high-quality touchpoints with our clients and serve them in the best way possible when we have the boldness to communicate or say no but do it with compassion and empathy, and respect. People admire that and they get a little more ballsy and they decide, you know what I need to do more of that within my community. I need to say no a little bit more too so I can say yes to the things that matter. Leadership is super important with boundaries and that's really what I want you thinking about today is not only how you can set boundaries for yourself, which your brain called, it says for the love of God, please help me, right?
Heather Sager 19:01
It needs a break. You need a break. Okay? You need those boundaries but also your people need you to set the pace. Because right now in this world we're in, this world is crazy. There are so many things on, things are changing every week, other schools open, other schools closed, are we online, are we offline? All the crazy things, right? It's not going to stop. Sure, this pandemic is gonna stop but there are going to be other things that come first. There's always going to be something and there's always going to be an excuse for why we're working all the time. At some point, you have to step up and say no, I have to do something differently because this business I'm building, it is not building me. I am building me and me is building it. You follow that, right? You got to build yourself up first. That's why we do so much of the internal work, why we focus so much on personal growth and how we approach things with the shoulders leader and then be able to lead our audience because they're looking, they're waiting for that person to be the domino to help them get the courage to do something. They've been thinking about it. Just like okay, today, talking about meta. Here I am, I am preaching to you about this to inspire you to go do it. I am stepping up as a leader right now on a topic that makes me very uncomfortable because I hate the idea of boundaries. I hate it when other people talk about boundaries because I want to be available all the time even though it's not true. That's not true. I want people to have lives. I am very clear with my team around like take a frickin break. But I'm showing up because you need to do this. I need to do this. You need to do this is something that we have to embody. I'm not telling you to be like a rigid robot around all of the boundaries. Do not build a fortress around you but you need to make sure that you're clear where those lines need to fall. Whew, okay, that was a tangent.
Heather Sager 20:42
Let's talk about this. You're gonna get some boundaries in place and now let's talk about how you communicate them to your clients or to your community because this I think is really important here. Let me give you a couple of things here. A mistake, do not go out to your clients. Do not come up with them with a here are all the ways that you can't contact me. Nope, that's not gonna work. Do not come out with a no list. Please do not say, this is like a big asterisk. Please do not have this laundry list of my kids are at home with me so I'm not available to take calls. Okay, I say this with the warmest heart and knowing that my kids are home with me right now and I know that a lot of times, especially on Thursdays when it's kid day, I'm not available to make calls. But if we lead with that, it's a no, right? What I want you to do is if you have a hard boundary, they could know. For me a hard boundary, I do not work on Thursdays, hard boundaries. Okay, soft boundary. I don't schedule anything on Thursdays but sometimes I check my email with the kids on a nap, but it's optional. Nothing is scheduled. Nobody creeps in my schedule on Thursdays. Hard, soft boundary, heart, whatever, but it works for me. It totally works for me.
Heather Sager 21:52
I want you to think about instead of me going I don't work on Thursdays. If I'm working with a client, we've been working together for a while and we've already established rapport and they try to schedule a Thursday. I'll say, you know, actually, Thursday's aren't the best day for me. I do my client calls on Fridays and Wednesdays. That's it. Like, it's good. Nobody does that. Nobody questions that. It's like, ah and they don't push. They know my kids. It's like, oh, yeah, Thursday's is my mom's day. Really important for me to show up presently so I'm fully committed on these two days a week. That's why I bulk on my client meetings but Thursdays are kind of my no-fly zone.
Heather Sager 22:23
What you want to do is you want to make sure you have established some wins, some rapport with your clients in order to be able to like say, Oh, I don't work on this day. What I want you to think about is give them the yeses before giving them the no's. Set it up proactively. Let's say that you don't work Tuesdays and Thursdays and you're trying to schedule something with someone else. If you look at the calendar, say okay, so let's look at the week this week. I typically take my client calls on Mondays and Wednesdays, which of those two days works best for you? It's called a yes-yes question. You just gave them two options and either way is a yes. Of course, if they don't have that, if they're like, oh, I don't work Mondays and Wednesdays, I need to do other days. Okay, well, what's funny is, they're now telling you that they have a boundary so now you're like boundary buddies. You both have a boundary. Now let's figure out how we can figure out a win for both of us. You see how that happens. So I typically go, okay, so I have, I take client calls on this day and this day, which of those two work for you? Let's get the calendar here. Okay, how about the week of the 13th? Oh, now we can start plugging in. Set your parameters and then pull them into it. Okay, so I did my client calls on Wednesdays and Fridays. I'm looking to have the week of the 13th. I'm open on Wednesday at this, or Friday of that, which works best for you? Do that. Okay.
Heather Sager 23:36
That's how you're going to communicate your boundaries. You don't need to say, I don't work Thursdays. My clients don't need to know that until like, at some point, they'll probably know, or if they follow me on Instagram, they know. But like, you don't need to go through that list. You also don't need to go through that list and be like, I don't reply to emails after five. You don't need to say that. You just need to demonstrate that. You just need to demonstrate that. Don't respond. Here's the thing.
Heather Sager 24:01
I'm situated in my chair because here we go, baby. Chances are, hear me very clearly here. Chances are if you have clients who send you emails at all hours or are in your Facebook Messenger and in your Instagram messenger and in your whatever messenger all the things if they're going through all the places and you're starting to feel resentful and frustrated and you're very like why can't they just follow the thing? The chances are, leader, I'm talking to you, leader. Be a leader. Take responsibility for the actions that have led you to this point. Isn't it possible that they messaged you on one of those things in the past and you've responded and not told them any different? Isn't it possible that they've messaged you other times and hours and you've responded after the kids went to bed and never said that it wasn't okay? Isn't it possible that these have happened in the past and you have now set the expectation that this is the kind of communication that you do. So the question is, is this their fault or yours? Probably both, right? Like it's Yes, they're doing the action but you've set the expectation that that's okay.
Heather Sager 25:14
So if you find yourself in this position where somebody is, I see this all the time in Facebook groups. Oh, I have this really needy student in my course that keeps sending me emails over and over and over again and I just want to dump them from my program, like they're not a fit. I see that, and I'm like, what the hell? Does this student know they're doing anything wrong? No, because have you ever told them that? No. Let's think here. I think a lot of times we get resentful and frustrated at other people for their actions but we've never once told them that their actions are not okay or they're bothering us. I mean, I think about this with their spouse, Here's the thing. I preached this. I did this in business all the time but I am not great at this, right? I say this, I'm not perfect at this. I'm actually terrible at this with my husband. If he like, oh, gosh, the coffee pot, right? So I set the coffee pot every single night. Every night, if there's something going on and I don't do the dishes after dinner and I go take a shower or something. And he does the dishes which I love. But then he doesn't set the coffee pot. Oh, every time I'm like, really? Every day I do it, really, you can just do a one time. But never in my life, if I ever said, hey, babe, could you set the coffee pot tonight? Now if I would ask him that he totally would do it. But instead, I'd like Oh, what is wrong? Why couldn't you just like, doesn't he just know to do the coffee pot every night and I'm sure you could think of like a bajillion of these scenarios that run out in your personal life. But as silly as they sound, we know it to be true. But I think that's just a little game in a marriage that you play and I think we keep doing it because it keeps exciting.
Heather Sager 26:45
But in your business, what I want you to think about is you're the one responsible to communicate with your community and with your clients. Sometimes that means that you need to have a hard conversation because you need to tell them something different. That you actually have a different expectation and even though it's never been a different expectation for you, it's just the first time you're telling them that. Let me give you an example of how I would approach this, oh, my gosh, the person's emailing me too much. They're really infringing. This program came with Facebook support, why are they emailing me or why do they message me, or why they DM me? Cool.
Heather Sager 27:22
If I get a student request from my program, Speak up to Level up, with a community we have there. People have access to the live community, live coaching, and other bonuses for 12 months as they go through the core curriculum of the program. If I get an individualized DM or message from one of my students, here's how I handle it:
This actually happened recently. Somebody reached out and they're like, hey, this isn't necessarily related exactly to Speak up to Level up but I'm really curious around what platforms you're using to host the program. I think it's really stellar and I love it. I want to design my program similar to this. First of all, thank you. I am super proud of my platforms and how we've designed the program. It is stellar. It is world-class. I love the program so much. Okay, done fangirling on myself. Here's what we go. It would be easy for me to be like, how dare they reach out? I'm going to send them like a strongly worded email. Let's go ask the question in the community. No, it's just like, you got to train people to think differently.
What I always say is when this happens the first time it comes through, you answer and move. So here's what I d:
“Hey, Susie, first of all, thank you, thank you so much. I poured my heart inside of Speak Up to Level Up and I love the program and I'm so happy to hear that you love it too. That really means the world for me”, like that. Yes, love it. Honoring that, I fully believe that that's true. “I love that you asked this question.” I'm thinking in real-time as I'm doing this here so you guys are seeing my real Sager brain thinks on your feet thing. “So I really, really love this question. I'm really glad that you asked this question because I'm actually sure other people have the same one too. I use the Kajabi platform and what I love about it is insert something here”. And then what I'll do is I will ask for a favor, right? But what I'm really doing is normalizing expectations. So hey, even though this question seems kind of outlandish and outside the scope of SULU, these are probably questions that your peers are having so “hey, could you do me a quick favor? Could you post this question in the group so I can answer it again because I want to make sure that if other people have this question, too, that they can see it because I'm sure there's gonna be a lot of questions? I hear platform questions all the time, and actually, other people might have some input to add as well. So great to hear from you, I can't wait to see you in the next set of office hours.” That's what I would say, something along the lines of that. I send versions of those on a weekly basis to my students around like, Oh my gosh, I love that you asked this question.
And here's what I've learned to hear it as typically people are sending me messages because they're asking me something that they feel is on the perimeter of the program and they don't know if it's okay to ask in the community which tells me I need to embrace all conversations in the community. So I always do that I always ask, Oh, my gosh, I love that you asked this, thank you so much. Now, if it's a question that requires a more in-depth response, not like “I use Kajabi” on that last one. If it needs more response, I will say, “Oh, I love this question. Yes, I so want to dive into this. Hey, could you post this inside the community and I will jump in there tomorrow afternoon and answer this? In the meantime, you actually might get some responses from other people, but I really think this is a topic that other people will benefit from. Can you throw it in there and I'll be sure to jump in tomorrow?” Easy? I said yes but I directed them differently. So hey, Heather, can you tell like, let's pretend there's a question here. Hey, Heather, can you tell me how I adapt this part of my signature talk to a podcast interview I have next week? This personalized question. I don't do personalized support inside my program but I do hot seats and real-time coaching and then we have this whole community where people ask questions all the time and they'll answer it. So by saying yeah, oh, I love you ask this. It's such a good question. By the way, awesome on that podcast interview coming up. Hey, could you go drop this question into the private members-only Facebook group? And I'll jump in there tomorrow and answer it. I said the same thing that I just said. I want you to hear this language. I am saying yes and I am redirecting. It's a feel-good moment, right? But underlining, I'm saying, No. I don't do one-on-one coaching in emails. No, part of me wants to help you right now but I've already said yes to other things in my life that need my attention at this moment so this is where communicating your boundaries.
Heather Sager 31:46
Notice what I'm doing here. I am communicating the benefit to them by talking about the benefit to you have a great question. I want to answer this for you and I really think others in the community would love this. That's my go-to approach. Any of my members or my clients that listening to this podcast are like, Oh, that's what she was doing. Yeah, you should steal it using your community too. :)
I think you can honor people. I think you can really show them a lot of love and respect and compassion and enthusiasm when they reach out to you one on one, I'm honored by that and I respect my commitment that it is a group program. So I want you to just think about how you're phrasing things as you can be compassionate, respectful. Check yourself. If you're getting a request coming in and you're like, oh, how dare they, or can you believe they asked me to do this?
Heather Sager 32:35
I can. It happens all the time. And like, cool, chill, chill. Nobody's trying to scheme up, how can I make you so mad today? No, they're simply asking a question. And it's up to you to go, how can I answer this with love and respect for my boundaries, but also serve the crap out of my audience. Most likely, when people encroach upon that, you have a reply. So let me give you one last example here before we wrap up.
Example: Request for Meeting or Interview Outside of Scheduled Hours
Another example would be, someone who is, okay with two. Let's fast forward this real quick. Somebody is requesting an interview with you or a call with you or a schedule whatever with you outside of your normal hours. This actually happened to me last week. Somebody tried to schedule and we're trying to coordinate a podcast interview. He's in a far different time zone and the only spots we're open at 4pm Pacific. My virtual assistant and I sat down, we were trying to figure out where the calendar and I finally said, you know, as I'm trying to move things around. Side note, y'all know, I have kids. I've talked about this multiple times. I end my workday at 4:45 to go get one of those kids. But the other one, he's here two days a week at home, Zoom kindergarten. The other two days a week, he's in school but he's off at 1:30.
I have to be really mindful of my afternoons because I really want to be present with my children and so I spend some afternoons with him. I don't like doing interviews outside of when he's actually physically at school. I made this decision a few weeks ago that I'm no longer doing interviews in the afternoons. It just is not a good flow for me. I follow through on the commitments I've already made but I'm not taking new ones. So coming back to it, my VA is like, Oh, they only do 4? Well, it was a Calendly link so it was like a book a call link. I told her I was like, why don't you reach out and just say, hey, we're super excited about this, unfortunately, Heather doesn't do interviews, or she does interviews. No, what did I say? I was like, tell him we're super excited about this. Heather does interviews on her calendar between 10 and whatever the time was, like between 10 and 1 on these two days a week and based off your calendar with only 4 pm time spots. It doesn't look like it's gonna match up. Do they have any other spots available or should we table this for down the road? So I put the ball in their court instead of saying, No, I'm unwilling. We gave a window of when I do interviews. I think I even gave the reason, you know, right now we're in Zoom kindergarten and some flexibility things. I have to be really stringent on my schedule, although I didn't need to give them that reasoning. I did because I know the person. But I'm saying yes, by leaving the ball in their court, right? I'm giving them an out but if they don't want to flex on their boundaries, if that was even a boundary or that was just a Calendly link, I gave them the opportunity for them to go with mine but mine was a hard no. I don't do interviews at that time right now so that's an example.
Example: Client Emailing You Late at Night
Heather Sager 35:26
Let me give you one more example and this one is a client that is emailing you at all hours of the night. This one's simple. Don't email back. Don't email back. If you say I'm done with email at 5 o'clock and a client emails you at 7? Don't email back. Just don't do it. This is that simple. If you have clients that expect a response from you at night, that's a problem, right? But I think that you might have a, side note, because I had that too. This made up a delusional thing that the faster you respond, the higher quality, the higher whatever that you have. I don't think other people think that. So what you need to do is really evaluate if you think other people expect you to reply those hours, check yourself and say, is that true or is that a delusional reality that we tell ourselves because we've been living in the hustle world for so long? It's probably that, right? So one, just don't email it. Set some boundaries and when you do email. If needed, I played around with this, remove email from your phone. Email at your desk. Schedule the times when you do your email. But if you have a client who's then going like, why did it take so long for you to get back to me? And they emailed you at 7 pm and another email you at 9 am? That's on them.
Heather Sager 36:38
Let's pretend that's your scenario, one, you need to set some expectations with them. And what you do is not like hello, crazy person, why are you emailing all night? It's only been 11 hours and it was sleeping hours? That's not helpful, right? What you want to do is say, hey, Sam, let's pretend this person's name is Sam. I don't know why Susie and Stan are those two characters I say in story. So hey, Sam, thanks for sending your email. I apologize. No, don't apologize for being late. So hey, Sam, thanks so much for your email. And hey, I want to make sure that I best serve you when I'm working on a project or I say, like, I want to make sure that each of my clients gets the absolute best. So what I do is like I manage, I'm like, this is me fumbling out loud, right? Because these things are kind of hard so you gotta think through it real quick. Do you want to say something like, hey Sam, I want to make sure I want to sync up on communication because it seems like you are maybe frustrated that I didn't get back to you last night on that one thing. I want to make sure I set you up for success, right? I want to make sure that I keep you abreast of the projects that you feel confident in what we're doing and give you a space to give feedback that works for you but it also works for me too so that I can best manage your project. What I'd love to do is, it sounds like the last time question was kind of more of a status type email. Would it be helpful for you if I send out a weekly status report so you can see what's going on and then let's do a touch base call Tuesdays, just to make sure if you have any questions or loose ends that we do up? What are some things that you can set up proactively to avoid those?
That's the first place that I go. And then what I do is then if they start using the email again, I will just redirect when I get the next one. Hey, Stan, this would be a really great thing for us to touch on. I'll add this to the list for our Tuesday touch base call. If I got another email, hey, Stan, could you hold that for our Tuesday touch base call? You have to lay out the proactive stuff, get some buy in that they feel like that's a good idea too, and then any of those like weird spiring connections or emails they send, connect them back to like that's awesome, not like save up for the touch base call. Don't be snarky, but just be like, Oh, awesome, perfect, I'll add that to the list for Tuesday touch base call. And if you do that, if you keep doing that over and over again, they're gonna get the gist that Oh, I should ask these things on Tuesday's touch base call.
Heather Sager 38:59
That gives you some examples of both in our world, maybe if you're in corporate that last one literally might fit for you. But what you have to think about this all comes back to being proactive.
Being proactive to create a better balance for you, keeping your own sanity, holding off the resentment, holding off the begrudgingly tasks and setting your clients up for success around how they can have the best experience working with you.
How can this become a win for them? How do you communicate the wins and then the actions that need to take to get those wins, IE, posts in the Facebook group or I send you an email on Monday.
You have to think about how you can have them participate but it starts with you being clear and then being clear with them.
Heather Sager 39:42
I hope this episode today motivated you, inspired you a bit to step into becoming a stronger leader, starting to see yourself more as a leader, and then use how you communicate in a way that influences other people for good. I think boundaries are super important. I think we all need to be clear on what ours are, but more importantly, I think we're going to have higher quality relationships and establish really strong trust with our clients and communities when we can communicate those boundaries and to reinforce them in a proactive and positive way.
Heather Sager 40:15
I can't wait to see how you use this episode. Be sure to connect with me on Instagram and take a screenshot of this episode and share it. Share it from the rooftops. If you jive with this definition and this action plan for boundaries. Help us get the word out for the show. We are approaching 40,000 downloads here real soon and it would mean the world for me if you shared it with three friends today. Be sure if you have not yet liked and subscribed to the show, please, please do. The rate of the reviews that you leave, it means the world and people actually read those and that's how more people find the show and actually hit that subscribe button. So y'all are amazing, thank you so much for joining me today and I can't wait to see you in the next episode. Bye friends.