Teach people how to treat you: How to write clear, loving policies for business & life.

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You teach people how to treat you.

You teach people how to communicate with you.

You can’t expect people to “guess” your policies, expectations, hopes and dreams.

You have to share them. Clearly.

You also have to enforce them. Consistently.

Otherwise, people won’t know what you want. They won’t know how to play with you. They will (probably) disappoint or frustrate you, and it won’t really be their “fault.”

This is a lesson that I have learned slowly… and with great difficulty. (I owe a great debt to Dr. Suzanne Gelb, a psychologist who has dramatically changed the way that I think about “enforcing boundaries and policies.” Her guidebooks, by the way, are true gems.)

In a few weeks, on my thirtieth birthday, I will be launching a brand new website, complete with new language, new offerings… and crystal-clear policies.

I feel nervous, but mostly excited. (Nervcited.)

I’d like to share a few of my new policies with you, today, along with my thoughts on how to craft clear, loving policies of your own.

Here we go…

MY POLICIES

In 2015, here is what you should know about working & playing with me:

My re-publishing policy.

If you see something on my website that resonates with you — an idea, a quote, a script — feel free to re-publish it on your own site, in your magazine, in your book, or anywhere else that you like.

You don’t have to reach out to me for permission. Just go for it!

All I ask is that you mention my name & link back to my website: AlexandraFranzen.com.

My advice policy.

I love sharing what I know & offering helpful advice as often as I can — but I do not give “free advice” via email.

Instead, I have an advice column. It’s called Good Question.

If you have a question that you’d like to see me answer in a future column, please send it to me.

I can’t answer every question that I receive, but if I choose to answer yours, I will send you a personal note to let you know.

My “tough love” cancellation policy.

If you are purchasing a ticket to one of my events, please know that your ticket is “non-refundable and transferrable.”

This is a fancy way of saying:

If your plans change, and you are no longer able to attend the event, you cannot “cancel” and then get a refund.

What you can do is: 1. Switch into a different event, if I have space. 2. Give your ticket to somebody else. 3. Sell your ticket to somebody else. It is your responsibility to find that “somebody else.”

I have been quite lenient on this policy in the past. No longer. This is firm. Tough love.

Bottom line: Just come. Don’t flake out. Be brave & show up. It’s good for the soul.

Thank you for reading my policies.

I enjoyed writing them, and I will enjoy enforcing them… with love.

HOW TO WRITE YOUR OWN POLICIES.

1. Start with this question: “What is making me feel resentful?”

Resentment is a sensation that signals: “Something has got to change.”

Are clients constantly cancelling at the last moment? Are students flaking out on your workshops? Are people pestering you with an unnecessary amount of emails? Or sending messages that are long-winded and confusing?

Identify the moments in your day, week or month that trigger feelings of resentment. Those are the places where you’ll want to write some new policies.

2. Your next question is: “What are the questions that I get asked, repeatedly?”

Are people constantly emailing you, seeking free advice? Or asking for discounted rates? Or donations? Or asking you to do things that you don’t want to do?

If you’re feeling tired of answering the same questions, over and over, then you have an opportunity to clarify and tighten up your policies — or perhaps, create a set of Frequently Asked Questions — so that people understand how to play with you.

3. After that, ask yourself, “What are the questions that I WISH I was getting asked, repeatedly?”

Do you want more media bookings? Or more opportunities to speak onstage? Wish people were “quoting” you in their books and blog posts? Want people to hire you for a “new” kind of service?

People might not know that you want those kinds of things. You need to teach them.

So, write policies for the things that you want — even if you’re not getting them, yet.

Your words will act like magnets, drawing those kinds of opportunities to you.

YOU MIGHT WANT TO WRITE POLICIES AROUND…

Advice.
Cancellations.
Case studies.
Cell phone usage.
Classroom behavior.
Collaborations.
Communication.
Conduct.
Confidentiality.
Customer service.
Dinner time.
Disclaimers.
Discounts.
Emails.
Following up.
Guarantees.
Household chores.
Media appearances.
Mentorship.
Mistakes.
Partnerships.
Payments.
Pricing.
Re-publishing / re-using your work.
Refunds.
Rescheduling appointments.
Sales.
Shared responsibilities.
Social media.
Testimonials.
Texting.
Timelines.
Working for free.

… for starters.

WHATEVER YOU DO…

Resist the urge to “explain” or “justify” your policies.

Just state the facts.

There’s no need to describe the ten years of misery and personal growth that went into establishing those facts.

Saying:

“In 2015, my rate is $250 an hour.”

Is much more clear & powerful than saying:

“After a great deal of thought and consideration, I have decided to raise my rates — slightly — in order to provide better service while honoring my commitment to self-care. This is why my rate will be going from $200 to $250 an hour. If you have any questions about this change, please let me know. In some instances, I will be willing to honor my old rate for long-time clients, as well as new clients with financial difficulties. I also offer packages of time, which leads to a lower hourly rate when you purchase in advance. [etc…]”

Don’t explain. Don’t waffle. Don’t apologize. Don’t create “exceptions” and “loopholes.” Don’t invite “questions” and “commentary.”

Just say what is true. Clearly. Simply. No additional fluff.

Teach people what to expect from you.

Teach people how to treat you.

This post was first published at www.alexandrafranzen.com

Alexandra Franzen

When it comes to being a better writer — and a better human being — Alexandra Franzen has a ten-word philosophy: Start with love. Keep it simple. You are not confused. Alexandra’s refreshingly simple communication tips have been featured on Fast Company, Forbes, The Daily Love, The Daily Muse, MediaBistro, MindBodyGreen and The Huffington Post — and on radio programs from coast to coast. Learn more at www.alexandrafranzen.com.

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