Respecting Clients, And Why It Matters

I recently saw a post somewhere about the “eye rolling” test and how it accurately measures whether or not a couple will survive their marriage. With camera close-ups and a staged experiment, the study determined any amount of eye-rolling indicated a lack of respect for their partner. And respect is the key ingredient to a happy marriage, strong enough to survive the ups and downs of life.

I appreciate more than ever how the “respect” factor plays a role in all of our relationships, and this made me think how I’ve chosen which clients to partner with as a Virtual Assistant. I admit I’ve been on both sides of the fence over the years.

How Much is Enough?

It almost goes without saying that who your clients are makes all the difference in your quality of VA experience.

For me, a degree of healthy respect for the client, and understanding of their business is necessary for me to deliver the highest quality of work. If an overall respect is there, minor little things won’t matter too much and the partnership will flow.

But does a VA have to completely vibe with their client and be on the same level 100% with their industry, communication style, and values in order to successfully work with them?

That’s an equation that’s personal to everyone, but for me, I don’t think 100% is necessary. Part of the fun of being a VA is working with a variety of clients of different nationalities, age, and industries, and supporting their journey with a degree of healthy detachment to what they do and how. But, a certain amount of respect is necessary, and what I’ve learned is if I find myself doing any “equivalent” of eye-rolling, then I know something’s amiss, and I probably shouldn’t work with them.

It can be really obvious or subtle.

For instance, I’ve turned down the opportunity to support a client who’s very successful in the hunting industry, which unbeknownst to me, is booming. Who knew? It’s totally not my world. I put some genuine, open-minded consideration into the possibility of stepping into their business and working with this potential client in a hands-on way that was required for what they were looking for. It was a great opportunity on the one hand, but I knew in my heart that I wouldn’t be able to do it, because I personally don’t vibe at all with recreational hunting. I dug deep with that one to see if I could go there, but it just affirmed for me that I would find no inspiration and dedication to helping their hunting business grow.

The Quality of Who You Work With

I’ve known corporate professionals who’ve left incredibly high paying jobs in industries that clashed with their values, such as oil and gas, pharmaceutical, or employers with little ethics and principals. So the same principal of respect plays out everywhere in the working world.

As a VA, when I’m considering a new client, I’ve come to know pretty quickly what I should gracefully turn down and bow out of. My advice is if you’re ever struggling with deciding on a new client, really do your research on them on various online platforms beyond their website (read their blog and social media feeds), then walk away for a while and ask yourself:

  • Are you inspired by your client’s industry / mission / values? Even just a little?
  • Do you get what they’re about? If not so much, are you up for the learning curve, and eager to engage with their vision?
  • Are you on their level of thinking, even if it’s just enough to cross the bridge and meet them where they’re at?
  • Does the prospect of working with them make you feel heavy, anxious, and uncertain? Or excited, willing, and ready to jump in?

Listen to your gut, ‘cause it will prevent you from getting into a sticky situation.

Have you had similar experiences? How big of a factor is "respect" for you when working with clients?

Shari Montgomery

After fifteen years of navigating the corporate world, Shari jumped aboard the growing trend of virtual assistance in 2008. Building on her administrative experience, she carved a more flexible path with her VA work, supporting dynamic entrepreneurs. With niche training in copywriting, social media marketing, proofreading and editing, she has had the privilege of working virtually alongside amazing entrepreneurs, inspiring creatives, and business professionals to get their work out to the world. She is pretty stoked every day to be part of the virtual workforce movement.
Shari Montgomery

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