We all have them.
Hard and tricky (or maybe silly and weird) situations which pop up in business all.the.time.
Situations that require you to have hard conversations and set boundaries and parameters in your business.
Whether it’s being a web developer and not speaking the language of another developer you’re working with, or maybe there’s a conflict between you and a client – or maybe conflict between you and somebody you work with!
The truth is that these situations are unavoidable in life and business, and you just gotta work through it, set some boundaries, and get yourself in a space where you can show up with calmness and as your best self.
Sometimes as business owners we take every experience, or every client or contractor interaction that wasn’t perfect, and blame ourselves for it. Or, even make the situation about ourselves as people – even when it is just business.
Not to knock being emotional, because being emotional is not always a bad thing, but there is something to be said for sustaining yourself and keeping yourself on an even keel so that your ups and downs are not as profound.
And let’s be honest: as entrepreneurs, we usually go into business on our own to give our lives more even keel, less stress, and a little more control – so it’s important to learn these lessons as you’re going through it so you can live within the reasons you wanted to be an entrepreneur in the first place, right!?
When you’re going through a hard time, ask yourself: “Will this matter next year? What about in five years?”
When you’re in that moment, everything feels soooo real. You’re probably feeling all the feelings, but having that space to reframe the situation really helps to get into a better headspace and just deal with what’s going on.
A lot of this is a work in progress on your mindfulness practice, too, so that you can easily get into that space where you can take a step away from the emotions and think about things from a more objective perspective.
Remember: believing that the worst case scenario is about to happen because a client was unhappy with your work (or whatever it may be!) does nothing to serve you, or your clients.
I’ve talked about meditation before because of how life-changing it has been for me, but that’s because it seriously has been life-changing!
I found that when I was practicing daily meditation as a habit, that when I did encounter tricky situations or get a triggering email, I was really able to take that pause before my mind and body responded to that situation in a negative way, where before (without meditation), I probably would have reacted by curling into a ball and crying….which, let’s be honest, is NOT productive.
It’s about being reactive vs. responsive, and making that mindset switch where you don’t automatically react. When you build meditation practices or other mindfulness practices into your day, your body and your brain are trained to be able to take a breath and respond to the situation in a productive way instead of, well….curling into a ball and crying.
An email responder is a great way to set boundaries! I have one set up on my email that goes through step-by-step what people can do if they’re a new client, a current client, etc. It gives some parameters so that people are not just coming at me constantly and needing things, or solutions, or expressing their concerns, or whatever it is. And if somebody does have a concern, it passes to someone who isn’t as emotionally attached to the situation and who is able to handle these situations that are sometimes tricky in a really removed, thoughtful, and concrete (but still nice!) way – and the stress is off my shoulders!
It’s super important as a business owner to really teach people what the expectations are and make them really explicit. You want to teach others how to interact with you, and remember that it may not seem like a big deal, but having that decision-making energy taken off your shoulders leaves so much more space for you to actually do the work that matters in your business.
Another thing I’ve done to set boundaries is to delegate client issues to someone else who I hired specifically for that reason. To do my best work I really need to be in a very energetic mindset, not bogged down with stress, and delegating client issues out has left me with the time and space to cultivate that mindset that allows me to do my best work – to think strategically, intricately design different pieces, and do the things that are really going to move the needle in the business.
If you can think through every situation that’s ever happened to you (or as many as you want to!) and then set processes up that work to prevent those same situations from repeating you will be so much happier. That could look like having a super solid contract in place, or creating boundaries so that people know what to expect every step of the way.
Unfortunately, in order to set up a lot of these expectations and preventative systems you kind of have to learn the lessons the hard way, BUT, in the meantime if you are learning the hard way (like we all are) go back to the first tip and ask yourself whether this situation will matter in 5 years – then set things up to prevent that same situation from happening again.
Just like anything, we’re all a work in progress, but if there’s one thing I can leave with my fellow entrepreneurs, it’s that boundaries and expectations are everything when it comes to balance. Remembering that what feels huge in the moment is probably only going to be a blip on the radar 6 months, 1 year, or even 5 years from now.
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