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What I learned firing a client

Discussion in 'General Discussion Subforum' started by North Star, Aug 25, 2015.

  1. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    I've been away for sometime s0 lemme first say, Hello everyone! I've been preoccupied with young adult kid stuff and starting businesses. (Well, just one for me. Hubby is a CPA and I just help him a little.) My TMS has continued in its usual ups and downs but that's not what I want to talk about.

    Starting a new business in a new area, I was hesitant to fire this client. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush right? Unless that bird is pooping in your hand.

    I am a minimalist organizer. I believe if your stuff is choking the life out of you and you want to deal with it - I'm your gal.

    But I'm not for everyone. Especially this lady. It became clear to me that she was looking for help because she was seeking relief from the pain...not from the cause of the pain. And speaking of pain - she has severe TMS too.

    The amount of crap and disorder in her home is threatening their marriage.

    Anyway. I knew I needed to fire her. And as if I needed confirmation, my stomach was hurting me just thinking about it. (Reminded me of Dr. Gabor Mate's title - When the Body Says No.) My body was saying no because people pleasing North Star didn't want to. I also knew I would be turning away a regular income stream because this job will never, ever end.

    So here's what I learned:

    It is easy to become a monkey is some else's circus. We TMSers are people pleasers and when you're in a relationship with a crazy maker - either personally or professionally, they get the memo quickly. I found myself getting caught up in the lunacy and had to put my foot down.

    I need to be true to myself and my calling. I love helping people minimize and declutter not only their houses but their lives. This gig ended up being chaos management. Every room we touched, is in worse shape now. I wasn't helping her either - I was facilitating her issues.

    I did not realize how much my people pleasing was hurting me. The anguish I felt over firing her was horrible. I had to pretend, in the words of my sister, that I was a cold-hearted bitch. Which for me, meant I only apologized once for firing her. LOL. Learning how to say NO without rambling on or apologizing means I am first respecting my boundaries.

    I have a sense at how deeply enraged I am with this woman. She is a first class crazy maker. But yet I am a kind and compassionate person and found myself in more of a care taking role than in organizing. It got so that just driving by her neighborhood caused grief. Learning to be honest about how I am REALLY feeling about a person or situation is a muscle that's been rarely used. But that is changing.

    It was only this morning that I fired her. I went out there and told her to her face that I was finished...it was clear my services wasn't a good match for her, blah, blah, blah. She gave me an anguished, "Just tell me what to get rid of." I assured her that only she could make those decisions. It was just pathetic.

    It was difficult but as I glanced about the utter chaos of the house for the last time, I knew I made the right decision - even if I will miss the checks. (Trust me, she was willing to keep me coming in perpetuity.)

    I knew the value of what I learned from this will only grow. But for right now, I'm still wincing. And a little anxious over that income stream ending.

    How 'bout you? Ever have to deal with saying "no" to a problem relationship?
    Forest and JanAtheCPA like this.
  2. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    PS BTW, @Forest - I see I've been upgraded to "Beloved Grand Eagle" status during my hiatus. That just warms my heart and makes me smile every time I see it. I love the kind and thoughtful way you've identified the community members here.
    IrishSceptic likes this.
  3. JanAtheCPA

    JanAtheCPA Beloved Grand Eagle

    I'm so happy to see you again, North Star! And I love your story. It should be very inspiring to others.

    You know well that we CPAs can attract our share of problem clients. I fired a number of them some years ago and I couldn't have been happier afterwards. In particular, I booted the whiners and the "ethically challenged". I wasn't necessarily looking at the slow payers - some of those folks are trying hard, and as long as they stay in communication and catch up by the next tax season, I can feel that they respect me and the value of my services. In the end, it's all about mutual respect, as well as not enabling dysfunctional or unethical behavior.

    There will be more and better clients in your life now that you've made room in your psyche as well as your schedule to let them in.

    Welcome back!

  4. North Star

    North Star Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks, Jan! I read your comment to hubby - "ethically challenged". lol Yeah, we've had to fire a few of those over the years.

    I especially like what you said about making room in my psyche and schedule to make room for the ones who will be a joy to serve. (Or at least not a PITA!) ;)
    That was part of the motivation and saying goodbye to this client.

    Onward and upward!
  5. Forest

    Forest Beloved Grand Eagle

    Love it!

    It sounds like you did the right thing with letting her go. You need to spend your time working with people who are actually ready to be helped and not ones who are looking for someone to enable them. It sounds scary, but like it's best in the long term.

    Yeah, the titles were a bit of fun we had a little while back. I plan to keep tinkering with them, but I'm glad you like them!
    North Star likes this.

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