Last week, I talked about how my anxiety has been increased in the past when I have had clients end their contract early.
This led to questions about contracts and how to figure out when to hold firm, and when to let go.
First, I think it is important to let you know that I do find contracts to be sacred documents.
If I sign a contract, I consider it to be ironclad – on both sides.
I don’t let people out of contracts willy nilly.
But sometimes, a situation can warrant a bit of humanity.
As a business owner, it is easy to get caught up in our own story.
The panic of not being able to pay bills, or taxes, and a constant fear of failing.
We can find ourselves sitting in discomfort – sometimes for long periods of time – and it can be scary.
If you get stuck in that story (and only thinking of yourself) it is easy to forget about the human element and the relationships your business is built on.
In those rare cases, the exceptions to the rule, I bless and release.
I don’t get a lot of requests to end a contract early, but when they do come in, I take each one seriously.
After determining the request is valid, I think about that particular individual as a person.
And how I would want to be treated if I had an emergency come up that warranted me asking for leniency in a contract.
I am reminded of a client of mine who was traumatized by an experience with a previous coach.
She had a legitimate need for quitting early, an unexpected circumstance, and she was required to pay the balance even though she was no longer part of the program.
She was chased and harassed by the individual who owned the other business and was made to feel like a criminal.
The result of that is just icky.
People get torn down. There is bad karma – bad feelings.
People (on both sides) are left feeling manipulated, broken, and unheard.
I try to take a different approach.
I have taken on clients who have been traumatized in the past and had to rebuild or bandage them up.
I am not willing to be a pushover – my contracts are for a year at a time for a reason.
It takes that long for new ways of seeing, thinking, and being to become a habit.
And it takes that long to really get anything major done.
Also, when my practice is full I can focus on my clients instead of getting hung up on selling.
When I am able to focus fully on the clients I have, I really feel like I am doing my best work…
Plus, there is a reason we sign contracts, right?
Honestly, I find contracts and terms to be a real conundrum.
How do you find the balance that allows you to look yourself in the mirror and feel proud?
Seriously, how do you handle this?
I always teeter on the edges of this issue, and I would love your advice.
What are your solutions?
Until then…stay passionate!