Setting boundaries is necessary in any human relationship.
Whether you’re dealing with an overly demanding business client or a boyfriend with wandering hands, sometimes you just have to say “No!”
In fact, there are many parallels creating successful relationships with business clients and boyfriends.
For both, most problems can be avoided by laying down clear, straightforward boundaries.
In the business arena setting boundaries is done by negotiations, written materials such as rate sheets and brochures, and most important, contracts.
Good relationships enjoy a certain amount of give-and-take and compromise. But when demands become unreasonable, it is time to say put your foot down.
That is because human relationships work best when they are conducted with mutual understanding and respect. Intelligent boundary setting goes a long way to set up a structure where mutual respect can flourish.
Good relationships are based on an even exchange. Generally, the exchange is money for goods or services on the part of you and your business client. For the boy and girlfriends it will be a mutual emotional commitment.
A girl who gives her heart and soul to a boy who is looking for a ‘one-night stand’ is an example of someone who enters into an unequal exchange.
Is that situation really so different from a small business trying to break in with a large, high profile client who can pick and choose among many small vendors? It is not uncommon for some less than scrupulous large clients to seek out small hungry suppliers, give them orders large enough to monopolize their capacity, and demand all manner of concessions.
In both cases, the small partner, like the besotted young girl, wants the partner too much.
Ideally both partners in a business transaction want something the other has to offer, but not too much. If you are the small business drooling at the prospect of the large order from an attractive client at a time when your sales are down, be careful. You are likely to have difficulty setting boundaries and give away too much.
In order to stand firm in your negotiation, you have to have a firm sense of your worth. Fake it if you must. Refuse to make any decisions on the spot if you don’t feel that you can trust your judgment under pressure.
Some clients, like some boy (and girlfriends) turn out to become demanding or difficult.
A designer is asked to perform a small, routine job. The client is not satisfied and asks for modifications. The designer complies. The client asks for more modifications. The designer complies. The designer complies. The client asks for more modifications. The client asks for more modifications …
This seemingly small job is quickly becoming costly. It is eating up the designer’s time and preventing him from working on other business.
Like a woman strung along forever by a partner unwilling to commit, this designer has to set boundaries with his client.
At this point, he can try to renegotiate the terms of his transaction to get additional money for his time. But if the client is unwilling, the designer has to decide between expending more time and effort into satisfying a difficult-to-satisfy client, or walk away from the job.
By setting boundaries, the designer can limit his losses in this not-uncommon situation.