I was reading a blog post from a fellow talking about how he communicates with his assistant. It amounted to what I call being grunted at. One or two word commands and directives.
I would never allow a client to talk to me like that. And you couldn’t pay me to work with anyone like that. Not for any amount of money. Because it’s demeaning and dehumanizing.
Countless people in our industry have written to me over the years about feeling demoralized working with clients who treat them like nameless, faceless robots.
Here’s how this happens:
They come into this industry and start their businesses with this crazy idea that they’re supposed to be good little assistants, seen but not heard, doing everything they are told, practically the family dog who’s supposed to fetch and shake and rollover on command.
They work with clients like they’re on an assembly-line, like they’re still that employee waiting to be told what to do, letting clients tell them how their business is going to be run and how things are going to be.
But you are NOT an assistant.
You’re running a business to deliver a specific professional expertise, no different than a doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc.
You are someone with special skills, talents and experience in the art and craft of administrative support. An expert. A specialist.
If you want a happy business and life, put your name and face on your business. Be the expert.
YOU tell clients how you operate and how you will work together. YOU tell them what the policies, procedures and protocols for working with you are. YOU tell them what your standards and values are, where the boundaries are and what the rules and guidelines are.
And in having standards, that includes expecting and informing clients that you expect to be treated with the dignity of a human being and spoken to in complete sentences.
You’re not a robot or a vending machine they are barking orders at or punching orders into.
Don’t allow them to view you as their personal assistant/servant/gopher or substitute employee.
I always use the example of attorney and accountant because that’s exactly how I want clients to equate the nature of our relationship, that it will be like the one they have with their attorney or accountant. How they work together and speak with them is the same way they will be working with and speaking to me.
Dump any client who can’t get with the program. If they want an employee, that’s who they need to hire.
And then, when you are left with the ideal clients who treat you with the proper manner and respect accorded to professionals who are helping them, treat each and every one of them like the VIPs they are.
That doesn’t mean being obsequious and subservient. It means making each one feel special, important and valued. And you’ll be able to do that at a high level for those clients because you aren’t allowing yourself to be demeaned and having your morale and energy zapped by crappy ones.
Oh, and stop calling yourself a virtual assistant. You call yourself an assistant and then are shocked/irritated/perplexed when they treat you like one.
Assistant is a term of employment. Stop using that word. It’s ridiculous in this day and age of business to be using that word.
This is why we are the ADMINISTRATIVE CONSULTANTS Association.