How To Set Back-To-Work Boundaries

This blog originally appeared on SolaSalonStudios.com

The past few months have been filled with unprecedented challenges, and for many salon professionals, getting back into the salon provided much-needed comfort and excitement. However, reopening is no walk in the park. It comes with longer days, eager clients, anticipation to get “back to the way things were," and navigating a new normal of increased sanitation, wearing a mask, and calming clients' nerves.

Here, Dawn Bradley, business coach, hairstylist, podcaster and industry expert, guides us through ways to establish back-to-work boundaries.

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There are many reasons why you may find yourself needing to establish boundaries:

  1. You may constantly feel tired, exhausted and desperate for change.
  2. You love making your clients happy, but during your time away from the salon, you realized that you’ve been sacrificing your life and health. You know you need to change but the fear of upsetting and possibly losing clients is too much.
  3. You are ready to set boundaries and are excited to do it in ways that keep you and your clients happy.

Your lack of boundaries does not equal excellent customer service

“This one was a tough one for me to accept for a long time,” says Dawn. “I prided myself on my excellent customer service and going the extra mile (which is great) until I started using that as an excuse to not have any boundaries in my business… But the thing is, when you say yes to one thing, you’re also saying no to something else.” It can take years before we fully understand that establishing boundaries is critical to living our best lives. Getting back to work in a healthy and significant way will take intention and grace, and careful consideration is necessary.

First thing’s first, you will not be able to make everyone happy. Make peace with that right now.

Say "Yes!" to this right now! It’s important that you truly accept this sentiment and embrace it wholly. “If you hear what I’m saying and don’t think it will help you,” says Dawn, “it 100% will not help you.” Dawn says our beliefs are like a compass and we head in the direction of what we think is possible. Boundaries are not slamming a door in someone’s face. When done with kindness, compassion, and empathy, healthy boundaries take care of both you and your clients. “You’re not creating boundaries to them and at them, but for them.”

Don’t let scarcity take over

It’s common to feel that if you don’t get all your clients in ASAP that they will go somewhere else. But that’s thinking that there’s not enough to go around. Dawn encourages everyone to live in an abundance mindset. “Trust that there’s more than enough to go around, that you’re worth it, and your clients will wait!” Your clients value you more than you realize, and they’re willing to wait. They’ve already waited.

Crushing Our Fears: Fears vs. Fiction

Common fearful thoughts include:

  • "If I make changes, my clients won’t come back."
  • "Everyone is strapped for cash, I need to discount."
  • "I should bend over backward for everyone because times are tough."
  • "I need to work 24/7 to recover and accommodate everyone, it’s the only way."

Here’s how you crush those fears:

  • Take Action: Are you feeling paralyzed? When you’re indecisive, you’re actually making a decision. When you decide to take action, try to feel excited and empowered by the choice you’ve made.
  • Create Momentum: Don’t hesitate and try to let your focus be your momentum. Having accountability and support and community helps with momentum.
  • Practice Makes Progress: Perfect does not exist. There’s no such thing. But when you keep practicing, it becomes second nature.
  • Stop Projecting Your Circumstances Onto Others: Don’t discount your services. People are coming ready to pay you. Don’t project your circumstances onto clients.
  • Incentive Scheduling for Peace of Mind: Let everyone know how hard it is to navigate during this time. Be open and honest, letting them know that if you could get everyone in right away, you would. But you're only human. Pre-booking in advance is a great way to alleviate some of the stress of trying to fit everyone in right away.

Define Your Boundaries

Write down what you will allow! Take your boundaries from thoughts in your head into actions that you live. What are your hours? Will you work extra? If yes, how many hours? What are your absolute no's? What will you not allow? How will you respond to someone who asks for something above and beyond?

“When we don’t define our boundaries – when you aren’t clear on your hell yesses and hell no's, then you enter a grey zone,” says Dawn. Your clients can and will sniff this out. “When you have a clear, precise plan and you’ve written a script for yourself and practice in the mirror, you are getting used to the discomfort, and growth comes from being uncomfortable.”

One Guarantee: You Will Get Pushback

The people who will pushback are the ones who benefitted from your lack of boundaries. This is where practicing comes into play. “There’s no way to make everyone happy. Even when you’re kind, compassionate, empathetic; even when you show that you’re doing this not at them but for them; even then, you will have someone who pushes back.” Get prepared with your response and practice your reaction.

However, there are tricks for when you’re thrown off guard:

  • Take a deep breath
  • Take a sip of your beverage
  • Don’t commit to saying anything until you are calm and collected
  • The two most powerful words you can use with unhappy clients are I understand. “I understand this is frustrating”, “I understand this isn’t how it used to be.” And there’s that empathy. Make sure you’re validating your clients’ feelings.

Be okay with the possibility of losing clients. “I see clients who bend over backward for clients who drive them nuts,” says Dawn. That fear is saying, "What if they leave and no one replaces them?" Tell that fear, "I will get new clients, ones that respect and value me."

There is an upside if you have clients that go away:

  • You can gain respectful clients
  • Ability to do more of what you love
  • Run your business rather than it running you
  • Free yourself from people-pleasing ways

“Remember that you can fall back in love with this industry,” says Dawn. “You can take control from behind the chair and your clients can respect and be excited about the changes that you’re making.” We’re all navigating a new normal and now is the time to take ownership and implement changes so that you’re setup to thrive both professionally and personally.

Want more from Dawn Bradley on back to work boundaries? Watch the full webinar recording here

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