I want to talk about something that many people are uncomfortable thinking about let alone dealing with. . . . . hate mail. You know, those emails that come from your email subscribers, website visitors or Facebook friends who feel compelled to tell you what they don’t like about you, your opinion, your services, your website or your emails. Some are respectful about sharing their opinion and some, it seems, are just looking for a place to vent their frustration and anger.
For many service professionals, the thought of getting hate mail is terrifying. After all, we are really nice people who want to help others solve pressing problems so they can reach their goals. Being liked is important. In order to help people, they have to like us, right? Well, not really. The truth is that the fear of what others think of you and your need to be liked is keeping you stuck and hurting your business.
Your fear of what people will think and your need to be liked is holding you back from:
1. Being honest – if you are worried about being liked, you are much more likely to sugar coat or withhold information that you think will upset a prospect or client. Clients don’t hire you to be their friend, they hire you to solve a problem. Being on the outside of the problem, you can often see things about the problem that they can’t. In order to provide the best service and offer the most helpful solutions, you have to be honest . . . even when you think they may not want to hear it. When you hold back on honesty, you are enabling people to stay stuck in the problem and sabotaging their results. People may like you, but if they aren’t getting results, they won’t stay with you.
2. Setting boundaries – you are afraid of saying “no” and being unavailable to people for fear that they get upset or find another provider to take care of their needs. People may love you for being available 24/7, but you are setting yourself up to be a doormat and to burn out. Just because people love you, doesn’t mean they respect you. It’s hard to take someone seriously and trust their recommendations if you don’t respect them.
3. Leveraging your client email list – I have met quite a few business owners who have spent a lot of time, money and effort to build a respectable list, but don’t want to send out marketing emails to them because they don’t want to be annoying. Your email list is one of your biggest assets in online marketing. If you want them to buy from you, then you have to build a relationship with them AND give them opportunities to buy your products and services.
I remember the first time I got hate mail. It was a few years ago, after I sent out an email expressing my frustration and bewilderment about people saying they wanted change, but they were not willing to do things differently. I wrote the email from my heart, used very direct language and spoke my truth. As it turned out, my truth made people uncomfortable because it was pushing them to make a decision and take action. Several people wrote and expressed their discomfort (some were respectful and some were downright nasty). Others just quietly unsubscribed. When the emails and unsubscribes started coming in, I panicked and felt sick. It hit on my “fear of not being liked” button.
Then I remembered a favorite professor in graduate school who told me “If your clients like everything you say, then you aren’t doing your job.” I quickly came to my senses and remembered that my job is to help people get where they want to go. If I never challenge them or push them out of their comfort zone, then I am not doing my job. I am enabling them to stay stuck.
So, yes, speaking my truth and pushing people to take action hit a pain point with people and I got some hate mail and some unsubscribes. Those were not my ideal clients. I also had quite a few people email me and thank me for the push because it got them off their butt to take action and change things in their life. They understood that loving pushes come in all different packages and that “nice” isn’t always what you need. Those are my ideal clients and many have chosen to do business with me.
You can’t speak your truth and be a powerful change agent if you are afraid of what they will think and say to and about you. I say embrace the hate mail, it means you have struck a nerve and your message is clear. Those who don’t like your message will leave and those who do will be your ideal clients. Being liked is fine, but being successful because you help people with real solutions and lasting results is much more rewarding.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this article.
As a professional organizer and personal life coach I find this to be so true. I agree with everything you said especailly the part about speaking the truth and being a powerful change agent. By the time people call us they are ready
to make a change and we play such a part of that!
You are so right, Laurie. Once they call us, they are ready and if we aren’t speaking our truth, we really aren’t serving them or ourselves. Keep up the great work!!
I have experienced the doormat syndrome before too Melanie. As a Professional Organizer and Consultant, my experience is that the clients who need me to work with them tomorrow (or yesterday) are not good clients. They typically want me to work miracles in hours vs. days…and then disagree with my rates. I hear your voice in my head so many times with my clients.
Linda, you are right! Those are NOT your ideal clients!! Good for you for knowing that and then letting them go.
Melanie. I totally agree with your blog. I tell clients in the beginning, what I say may not always be popular but it is my honest and professional advice that I think will help you. I’m not a yes woman. It is uncomfortable sometimes being honest but I can’t let that stop me.
Some times I have to help clients understand in order to get different results you have to do things differently. If you do what you have always done you will get what you have always gotten.
Gina, sounds like your clients are very blessed by your willingess to be honest with them, even when this not fun. Yay YOU!