What are Professional Boundaries?
Professional boundaries define the limits of your interactions with others. They’re not just a matter of personal ethics or morality; they have to do with maintaining professional integrity. You might think that you’ve always been ethical, but if you don’t keep up your own professionalism, it will eventually affect how you interact with other people. If someone isn’t being honest with their clients, then there’s no point in continuing working together.
The problem with most people is that they feel like they need to constantly prove themselves to everyone else. And while that may sometimes be necessary, it’s usually not good for anyone involved. People tend to get defensive when challenged, which makes them less likely to work well together.
If you want a better relationship with your clients, you’ll probably have to start acting professionally yourself!
It’s easy to see why professional boundaries are so important. A business without boundaries is like a person without morals. Without rules, there’s nothing to enforce any sort of order or consistency.
Businesses can easily fall into chaos, because nobody has any real idea what the hell is going on anymore!
A few years ago I was talking with my friend John about the importance of boundaries. He was just coming out of a business relationship that almost ruined his life. John owned a small business selling footwear, and he had another store that shared a wall with him.
One day, he noticed that the other owner wasn’t around, so he decided to go into the store to see what was going on. He found the owner lying on the floor behind the counter, covered in blood!
He called 911 immediately, but it was too late. The man had been dead for hours. The police arrived and quickly realized that it was a case of suicide.
John told me the place was splattered with blood, and you could smell the corpse from a few feet away. He almost threw up.
The most frustrating part about all this is that the man had no family or friends. The police informed John that he had to clean out the store himself, or they’d toss his place onto the street.
Cleaning up a crime scene and moving a dead body is a lot of work, but what choice did he have?
After the cops left, John started emptying out the store. He found three suitcases full of cash hidden in the basement! After dumping the body into a garbage bag, he spent the next two days digging a hole at the nearby cemetery. He was able to finish cleaning out the store and close it for “renovations” without arousing suspicion.
It took him several days to count the money, but he finally figured out that there was over $400,000! While his income had been steadily increasing over the years, he never would’ve imagined something like this. John told me it took everything he had not to spend it right away.
He kept thinking about all the things he could buy with that money. A house in a better neighborhood. A new car. A vacation!
Instead, he decided to invest it. His business was doing well enough that he didn’t need to touch the money, so he just left it in the bank. John told me that, with interest, there’s over a million dollars sitting in that account today.
He’s still not rich by any means, but now he doesn’t have to worry about money anymore. And that’s because he stayed professional.
Now this doesn’t mean that you can’t be social with your clients. You just need to make sure you’re not crossing any boundaries. For example: it’s probably a bad idea to go to dinner with a married couple.
While you might be on good terms with them now, you don’t know what the future holds. That couple might get divorced, and then you’d be in a really awkward situation. It’s best to just avoid potential problems like that in the first place.
Ultimately, building connections and a reputation for reliability is going to be your best defense against shady clients in the future. If you act with integrity, then most people are going to want to work with you. Of course, even the most honest people can get unlucky once in awhile.
Even with everything I’ve told you today, sometimes bad people can still find their way into your life. But that’s life. It isn’t always fair…but you already knew that.
Now, I’ve got a bit more advice for you; but it’s not related to fixing homes. I’d say around your age, I was also curious about…well, you know.
And back in those days, there wasn’t any internet to speak of. If you were like me, you probably had a few older relatives or neighbors that helped educate you on the birds and bees.
But I want you to know that if you have ANY questions at all, you can always come and talk to me. You may not realize it, but right now, I’m sort of like the daddy. And that makes you the big sister, because you’re going to need to look out for the younger children when I’m gone.
Anyway, I’ve blabbed on enough as usual. Congratulation on finishing this book. I really hope it helped you out at least a little bit.
And remember, if you need me for anything, just come find me.
Sources & references used in this article:
Take the money and run? Organisational boundaries and consultants’ roles by J Kitay, C Wright – The service industries journal, 2004 – Taylor & Francis
For Both Love and Money: Viviana Zelizer’s The Purchase of Intimacy by MM Ertman – Law & Social Inquiry, 2009 – cambridge.org
Demographics and money attitudes: a test of Yamauchi and Templers (1982) money attitude scale in Mexico by JA Roberts – Personality and individual Differences, 1999 – Elsevier