When I started working with my first client, a successful leadership coach whom I worked with for more than 4 years, I had just graduated as a Virtual Assistant. Sarah lived not too far from me and so we sometimes worked together in her home or we met at times when she was looking for venues for a corporate workshop. I sometimes stayed over, and my husband and I were invited to her parties. And so we became close friends.
Here we thought we had it all worked out: we knew when we were wearing our business hat and when it was the friendship hat. Because I liked her so much – and lacked experience – I had neglected my own boundaries.
And then I woke up. I realized that I needed to pull back and re-establish boundaries which was difficult. For example, I had allowed a slack on paying my invoices; and there were a number of other things – on both sides. I was feeling resentment … and I started making mistakes; a lethal combination. The mistakes continued, even became worse, and eventually both of us became so distraught and frustrated that we parted ways under very bad circumstances. We haven’t spoken since.
Even after a few years, I have this sense of a huge loss. I still miss her and sometimes even dream about her – she had become my friend and I lost her – mostly because of my own doing! Since that time, I have dived deep into the “making” of this breakup with my client/friend. A subject now covered in my Intake process has become “how close is too close?” Because I care deeply about my clients, treat each client’s business as if it were my own, I feel it is necessary to talk about this – mostly because I don’t ever want to experience something like this again. And it helps both of us navigate the waters of a close client/VA relationship!
How close is too close for you in a VA/Client relationship, and how will you, as a client or VA, prevent a situation similar to mine from happening while still maintaining trust and closeness?