When was the last time a client told you they can’t pay?
…Hopefully never, perhaps recently, but likely in the future. I’ve got quite a bit of content on this topic so I decided to make it a two part series…
Because stuff happens – credit cards decline, clients want to pull out of your program, extend the time frame, take a break or even tell you they can’t pay. And if your business isn’t thriving yet, you may feel you “need” that client to pay your own bills, which can cloud your judgment about how to handle the situation.
When money issues come up with clients, it’s an opportunity for self reflection as well as leadership.
Fear of losing the client, not being liked, or not being approved of can disconnect you from Spirit and tempt you to customize, cater and cave to their manipulation and drama. You may even think you are being nice by “helping them out,” but really you are disrespecting yourself, allowing them to mistreat you and placing their needs above yours.
You deserve to be paid on time – for the duration you both agreed to – for the valuable service and expertise you provide. Period.
But let’s be honest here. Money conversations with clients can be saturated with fear, doubt, guilt, anxiety, and resentment IF you don’t have a process in place to diffuse the cloud of emotion and gracefully navigate “charged” territory.
One of my colleagues recently said, “We teach people how to treat us” for better or worse. This is your opportunity to consider how you want to be treated when it comes to client money agreements and learn how to lead empowered money conversations with clarity and grace.
Here is the 3-step process I use for leading Empowered Money Conversations. I cover steps 1 and 2 in this article and will cover step 3 in the next article.
Step 1: Own Your Part
Conflict situations don’t “just happen” and they usually trigger an old conditioned fear. Ask yourself…
- “What does this situation remind me of?” to get to the root of why you’re triggered and what the specific fear is, for example, not being liked. Once you see it for what it is, you can move through it with awareness.
- “What’s my part?” Chances are you participated in the creation of the situation whether consciously or not. These two questions will help you see the facts more clearly, take responsibility for your part, and let go of blame or victimhood.
- Then ask yourself, “What do I want instead?” to put you back into a resourceful state where you’re focused on a desired feeling and outcome.
Once you’ve diffused the charge, you can step into a mindset of authentic leadership, which leads to…
Step 2: Be the Leader of the Conversation
Make an appointment to address the situation outside of the normal service delivery time. Then take responsibility for setting the tone and intention of the appointment. People respect and appreciate clear directness, even if the message has a strong emotional element to it or if both sides have a different viewpoint on what happened.
The structure I follow is this:
- Clearly and succinctly state what I want to discuss
- Clearly state what I want the outcome to be
- Outline how I expect the conversation to flow
- Get agreement before going further
Here’s an example of what it might look like:
“Jane, I want to talk with you about what is happening with your payments. What I want to accomplish here is having us come to an understanding about how we can make this right and move forward from here. I’d like to start by sharing what I’m experiencing, hear what you think is happening, then come to an agreement as to what our next step is. Does that work for you?”
This thoughtful “pre-framing” will set the stage for a productive, honorable conversation and keep it from spiraling out of control. And as you can see, this part of the conversation takes less than a minute when you have your thoughts collected and ready.
Here’s an extra TIP: Voice tone telegraphs emotions so run through your script a few times until you feel grounded, clear and in your aligned power.
Stay tuned for Step 3 in part 2 in this series.
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