“Houston, we have a problem.”
Late client payments, declined credit cards, clients that can’t pay, attempts to renegotiate the money agreement – when red flags like this happen with your clients, it’s time to speak up and clean it up.
Even if you’ve laid a solid foundation of payment expectations with your clients and you have a contract in place, client money issues can still come up and throw you off course.
It is all about setting clear boundaries and expectations…and following through when things get squirrely. Being “nice”, wanting to “help them out”, being “understanding”, trying to “accommodate” the client so as not to lose them – these are all behaviors that ultimately sabotage the relationship and put you in the position of carrying their money challenges on your shoulders – definitely not where they belong!
The bottom line is…You deserve to be paid on time for the valuable service and expertise you deliver.
So how do you handle this critical piece of communication? Building on the Empowered Money Conversation framework I shared in part one of this two part series, I want to walk you through the next phase of the conversation – getting to the heart of the matter.
Once you’ve established agreement to go further with the conversation, you can follow this 7 – step Empowered Money Conversation template that fosters mutual respect and understanding and keeps you centered, open and in the driver’s seat.
Notice – The facts: Clearly state what you are seeing, hearing or observing without judging or evaluating the behavior. Voice tone telegraphs judgment so breathe and model the feeling you desire – calm, for example.
Imagine – Share the story you make up about what you noticed. We are meaning-making machines as they say in Landmark Education. There is a vast difference between the facts and the story you make up about the facts and the imagined story is where breakdown occurs.
Feel – Share how the story you made up makes you feel. It’s an important distinction to own your feelings and recognize that they stem from the story you made up.
Get Curious and “See” Them – Now you get to check in with them by asking, “Is there any truth in my story?” or “Does my story make sense to you?” As the leader, you can guide them to respond by following the same first three steps. Mirror back to them what you heard to check for accuracy and to “get” where they are coming from.
Need – This is where things can get a little tricky because it is so easy to point a finger and say, “I need YOU to…” Nope. You can’t go there. You have to own what you need for yourself. For example, “I need for the financial agreement to be respected.”
Solution – This is where you explain their options. You might say, “Here are two (or three) options for resolving this and moving forward together…” Think these options through before laying them out. You have to be 100% okay with whatever you offer. If any piece of it feels like you’ll harbor resentment, enable unacceptable behavior, or otherwise compromise your boundaries, it is not a viable solution.
Complete – Get agreement and finalize specific action steps. You want to make sure there are no loose ends and the details are clearly understood.
Try it out in other contexts, too. You’ll find that peace, understanding, respect and agreement come a whole lot easier.