Women love to serve, which is why many of us are into service businesses. It’s a part of our nature and conditioning, but when you over-deliver as a way to prove your worth you run the risk of your clients devaluing you and the service you provide. This can create and attract needy and demanding clients. In this article I will show you how to set appropriate boundaries and reclaim the respect that you need and deserve.

We all want to be nice and give everything to everyone all of the time. Unfortunately, that over-giving is often associated with overcompensating. You might secretly be wondering if your services are good enough, so you give until it hurts, literally. Let me tell you that this doesn’t serve you or your clients. When you have loosey goosey boundaries people will begin to test them; it’s human nature. By not setting appropriate expectations and establishing your value up front you run the risk of losing your client’s respect. This leads to all sorts of challenges like clients not showing up on time or missing appointments, feeling like they are not getting real value from your service, and not giving you referrals. Ultimately this can erode your self-esteem and certainly your bottom line.

So, what is a women to do? Practice firm and loving boundaries. Here are some tips on how to do exactly that:

Set clear expectations for yourself and your clients, and make them known.

Teach your clients how you work and set up clear expectations from the beginning. For example, you can tell your clients that you work between 9am and 5pm Monday through Friday, and mean it. If you don’t set the expectation up front you will be responsible when they contact you at inappropriate times later.

Don’t give away all of your goods for free.

Sometimes people will seek your services and have no intention of investing with you. Shocking, isn’t it? You might start to feel frustrated about giving away too much for free, but you also feel uncomfortable saying no. The best way to stop giving it all away without feeling guilty is to start with affirming others first. Let’s say a prospective client repeatedly seeks free advice, but has not shown any interest in actually paying for your services. You can say something like, “I’d love to help you with that. Here is how we can work together.” Then, explain your services and offer to make an appointment with them. After that be silent and see if the prospect steps up. People appreciate what they pay for, and you want to set the expectation for yourself and others that your service is valuable.

Be consistent.

Once you set a boundary that is important to you stick to it. Many women fear confrontation, and give in when their boundaries are challenged. You may think that it’s safer to keep the peace in the short term, but in the long run you will both be better off if you stand in your value and honor your boundaries. Your clients will respect the fact that they can’t steamroll you and you will begin to show up as the powerful leader that they expect you to be.

Once you become comfortable with setting appropriate boundaries you will begin to attract more of the clients and business arrangements that support and inspire you. It’s your responsibility to make sure that you set the expectation for the respect that you deserve, and your clients will be glad to give it to you.