It’s a controversial headline for a blog post, I know. But the summation of a lot of my boundary lessons from the last year have accumulated in this assertion: your clients are not your friends. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to cultivate good relationships with your clients, but I am saying that over familiarity may not be what you want.
It’s very hard to convert a professional relationship into a personal one, and vice versa. As a tarot reader, I need the distance to be able to read for someone objectively. I read for strangers better than I read for friends; accuracy goes down when I read for friends and I make assumptions instead of just reading the damn cards. For example, if I have a friend that wants her cards read and I know she’s just gone through a breakup, I might assume that the reading will be partially about romance, when she actually would rather know more about career. If the reading is about the relationship (old or new), I might presume to know more than I do, and lean heavily on what I’ve been told by my friend rather than reading what the cards have to say… or, seeing what the cards have to say and thinking they “don’t make sense” to the situation I’ve been told and discount them. All of these scenarios lead to a poor reading for my client/friend because in those cases, what I’m doing is not giving a reading, but just guessing. That’s not what a true tarot reading is. Any reader worth their salt feels the difference between a reading and guesstimates. They feel it in their gut. And I believe our clients can feel that difference, too.
The boundary issues that result from treating your clients like your friends doesn’t just apply to tarot readers. Far too often I’ve seen business owners party with their clients to disastrous results. The client then thinks, “If they handle themselves in this way here, what will they do to my business?” The level of trust in competency wanes. Some people see weakness in a business owner, and they are reminded of humanity, while others see it as a loaded gun that might explode and backfire on their business. More often than not, it is the latter and not the former.
It’s hard but in the end I believe the decision must be made whether someone will be a client or a friend. How did I start doing readings? Reading for friends. Now that my business has grown, the amount of friends I read for has dropped into the single digits. If the decision isn’t made, you are setting yourself up for boundary issues, such as a friend valuing your personality as a card reader over 10+ years of friendship (yes, this has happened to me). There is also the expectation that you will read for a friend for free. In the beginning I’m not adverse to reading for friends for free. There is a certain amount of learning to read for other people that needs to happen before charging for readings, and I’m okay with that. When you are ready to take your business to the next level, however, you know in your heart that lines in the sand need to be drawn. For your sanity, for your friends’ sanities, for your clients’ sanities.
I value my clients tremendously. I am so honored to read for each and every one of you. You let me into your lives for that brief space of time so I can read for you. So I can help you. I do not take that for granted. But I’m probably not going to have a drink with you, nor attend your birthday celebrations (unless, of course, I am a part of the entertainment provided there).
With gratitude, and with boundaries intact,
Agree or disagree with the assertion that clients aren’t your friends? Why? Share your opinion in the Comments section!
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