I’m Not Your Friend!

When your hairdresser, lawyer, therapist, dentist, trainer tell it like it is.

I’ve had my hairdresser, my physician, Naturopath, financial manager, massage therapist and trainer for many years. We’ve become friendly and we know quite a bit about each other’s life. At one time, I thought we were friends until I invited them, a few years’ ago to a personal celebration, and every single one had a reason why they couldn’t come.

A month or so later, while jogging on the spot to warm up for exercise, I mentioned my disappointment to trainer Beth. She looked at me and said, “I’m not your friend. I’m your trainer”. She added that many professionals face that dilemma with their clients, because their job often entails personal almost intimate knowledge of the client — particularly with trainers and massage therapists, the client feels the relationship is more than it is. And part of their profession, if they want to be successful, is to be friendly, warm and engaging. No wonder we can get side-tracked!

Realizing this issue was multi-layered, encompassing all paid-for relationships I decided to do some research…. what makes a good client I wondered? How do the boundaries work? Are there similarities between professions?

I researched professionals beyond my own circle about their client/customer/patient relationships. Dentists, hairdressers, table dancers,(yes, table dancers and escorts) Pilates and yoga teachers, as well as massage therapists, life coaches, publicists, lawyers, doctors and house cleaners.Interestingly they all came up with the same six answers:

  1. Pay your bill on time
  2. Come to your meetings/sessions prepared
  3. Time = money, so use it wisely
  4. Be honest; don’t play games with our professional relationship
  5. If you cancel with less than 24 hours notice, be prepared to pay.
  6. I’m not your friend.

“It’s embarrassing when a client starts talking about her personal issues. I know she feels familiar with me because I’m handling her body, but I’m not a therapist or a friend I’m working on her for an hour to help her body heal. I have to be friendly so she feels safe, but that’s it.” C.J. Registered Massage Therapist.

Paying the bill on time seems like a natural, except it isn’t when the client thinks they’re your friend — another reason professionals like to keep a distance! This point was particularly important it seems, for all professionals working on the body!
Being prepared goes beyond getting all your paperwork ready for the lawyer and tidying up before the cleaning lady comes…one dentist said
“Brush your teeth! and please don’t eat garlic just before your appointment”.

When you turn your body or mind over to them for the hour, you are their business. They want to please and keep you as a client. You are paying them for their time and expertise, legal, dental or physical. Be honest with them so they can do their best for you, treat them with respect — on time and ready — so that you both benefit from the relationship. They are the best at what they do, that’s why you have them in your life.

As with all relationships, consider what you need to do to keep this relationship healthy, so that you both benefit. Discuss any concerns as they arise, as well as desired outcomes and goals. Time = $$ in this relationship. Treat both with respect and you’ll always feel good about the time spent together.

Just don’t expect them to be your friend.Live your best self — all-ways https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=duKldqaL37k

‘till soon. Georgina