Friends or Clients?

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Friends as Clients

Happiness Glue Savvy CleanerEverybody likes to have friends. And house cleaning is a lonely business if you work all day by yourself. When clients are friendly and they strike up a conversation, it’s like feeding a hungry puppy.

You latch on to them and encourage the friendship.

Before you argue with me, let me clarify that it’s okay to be friendly with your clients. Friendly, happy, positive behaviors are the glue that cements your relationships with clients.

But there is a big difference between being friendly and being friends.

The difference lies in the emotional attachment we give to our friends.

When you are emotionally attached to someone, you put blinders on. It’s like that euphoric feeling you have when you fall in love with someone new. You ignore the red flags. You justify their bad behavior and you revel in the times they make you feel important.

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Sometimes the Friendship Comes from Drama. 

A house cleaner’s life by design is boring. If everything goes as planned – there will be no drama in your day, it will be boring. Yes, that’s perfect. Be okay with that. And while house cleaning may provide an amazing income and the freedom to be your own boss – it’s easy to get sucked into a client’s drama.

They have all this chaos and don’t know how to resolve it. You solve their cleaning problems. Yet at an unconscious level, they may think you can solve all their problems.

Don’t Do It.

Be empathetic and say things like “Oh wow, I’m so sorry this happened to you. I hope it all works out.” And keep your emotional distance.

Over the years I’ve worked with some really messed up house cleaners who didn’t have emotional boundaries with clients. They justified all sorts of bad behavior and then hated themselves when they were taken advantage of.

Here’s the Catch.

Misery is contagious. If you spend time chatting with a client and they have a story steeped in gloom – it might remind you of some sorrow in your own life. Just Say No to Misery Savvy Cleaner

Because you’re caught up in the agony of the moment, now you want to relate to your client by sharing your story. DON’T DO THIS. Nothing good comes from this “sharing.”

When you share your own pain, yes you relate to your client. For a moment in time, you are the same. But you’ve eroded the professional and emotional boundaries you’ve worked so hard to create.

Next time you show up to clean their house – you are not arriving as a happy, professional house cleaner prepared to solve messy house problems.

Unconsciously they see you as a flawed person who is as depressed as they are. And they will test you. They will reopen those conversations, picking up where you left off last time. The reason for this is validation. They want to know that they aren’t the only ones who are miserable. When you cave into this weird game of “let’s share our despair” nobody wins.

Soon They Will Take Liberties with the Friendship.

They may decide they can help you out of your unhappiness.

We had one girl in our network who shared the misery with her client about losing weight. The client tried to “fix” the problem by enrolling both her and her house cleaner in Weight Watchers. She thought that the two of them attending meetings each week together would be some good bonding time.  It was a lovely gesture from the client.

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But Here’s the Problem.

Weight loss is not an isolated problem. Every single person eating the Standard American Diet (SAD) which consists of sugar, fat and salt deal with weight loss concerns.

Espresso with cinnamonNow the house cleaner felt obligated (since the client paid for the class) to spend five hours one evening each week, that she didn’t have to give. The five hours included the time it took her to get ready for the meeting, the travel time, and the meeting itself. After the meeting, there was networking with other group members, and the client wanted to go out for coffee to chat when they left.

The house cleaner had young kids at home so she had to find and pay for a babysitter. The babysitter cost more than the Weight Watchers meetings – if she’d paid her own way. Not to mention that they went to an expensive coffee house afterward that wasn’t in her budget. And because the client paid for the meeting, she felt obligated to pick up the tab on the treats.

And while she really enjoyed the break it gave her for some “mommy time” she soon started resenting the obligation. When she pulled back from attending the meetings, the client was offended.

House cleaning between them was never the same again. The client retaliated with extra requests, forgetting to pay on time, and snide remarks. The house cleaner considered the client a friend and tried to overlook it all. But the truth of this story is this: The client no longer saw the house cleaner as a person who could solve her messy house problem. She saw her as an ungrateful selfish person who complained about her weight but didn’t really want to change. House cleaning is what the house cleaner was offering, and weight loss is what the client was offering. But since the professional boundaries were destroyed, the relationship toppled.

The house cleaner could never do anything right after that. She hated going to clean for her “friend” and would call me in tears because she couldn’t figure out what happened.

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Friends vs. Clients

It’s a blurry line – but it doesn’t have to be. If a person pays you for your house cleaning service – they are a client. Be friendly but not friends.

Friends you confide in don’t give you money. Money is where you draw the line. 

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