Do You Have Boundaries?

I am late! This should have been last Tuesday. Yes, it’s 6.20 am and I am sitting down to do my usual Tuesday morning routine. But I should have been doing this last Tuesday. But last Tuesday I was more than likely in bed and asleep in Glasgow. Helen and I got away for a few days. The excuse was seeing Rod Stewart at the Hydro in Glasgow, as if we needed to have an excuse. But even though we were technically away on a short break, just 4 days (not that I am getting defensive), we still had some things that had to get done.

Do you have boundaries? This was the headline on a LinkedIn post but one of my go-to LinkedIn reads, Mike Finger. The gist of the post was that his wife was asking him who he was texting at 8.30 in the evening. It was a client (he is a coach) and they needed his council and reached out to him because it was important to the client and so it was important to Mike.

I have said to many people over the years that if there is something really bothering you, to just call me. My mobile is no secret to anyone. (07770 738770 if you want to know). Generally, it is a 30 second phone call, usually along the lines of “we’ll look at that in the morning” or “we have already dealt with that, so nothing to worry about”.

I remember getting one such call on a Sunday afternoon as I was dropping glass bottles into the recycling skip. The call lasted all of one minute. My client went away relaxed, and I got back to my recycling duties. I was pleased that I could help. I was also pleased that my client felt able to reach out to me as a person who was part of his own journey.

Last year, Helen and I were in Edinburgh for a few days. I think that was the trip to see Eagles in Murrayfield. I think we are on “catch up” of all the artists we never went to see in years gone by. We had gone for a walk along the canal on a beautiful sunny morning and were then making our way along the Leith Way, or at least that is what I think it was called. I actually spent about 15 minutes talking with a client who had some concerns that he wanted to bounce off someone and that someone was me. I was enjoying my walk before the call and after it I put my phone away and was enjoying my walk again, with the satisfaction of knowing that I had been there for him when he needed to speak. No stress, no pressure, just a phone call.

I have come across many businesses that switch off their phones at 5 o’clock every night and you can never get hold of anyone from 5pm on Friday night (and in some cases 5pm on a Thursday night) until 9am on Monday morning. I also know many people who keep their mobile numbers secret. But what if you got a stress inducing letter from HMRC in the post on Saturday morning or you have been away and are just opening the post one evening. Being there for our clients at these times is just so rewarding. It takes nothing away from us and in all probability that quick call will not be recorded or charged. Of course, we do all the routine stuff, preparing accounts, tax returns, payrolls etc. but it is just so rewarding to be able to use our knowledge and experience to smooth your journey when you need to speak.

I think that this is missing in so many businesses these days. Yet these same businesses complain about how hard it is to get by. But at 5pm every night they shut off those people that they rely on for their living. They go home on a Friday night for “me time”. I have picked up a lot of clients over the years because I took a more relaxed and flexible approach. It costs me nothing, but it helps someone else. It may have been something that was not life threatening but it was affecting them. Many of these people have been clients of mine for many years and at the time has fledgling businesses. They went on to build substantial businesses. From tiny acorns …

So, if I must do a little bit of work while I am away for a few days, what does it matter. Why would I not take a call on a Sunday afternoon.

The point I have made to so many people over the years is that if something is bothering you just phone. If I am standing in front of the barbecue with a glass of wine in my hand I may not (and probably will not) answer the call, but let me make that choice. If I am idly browsing the internet, what harm is it for me to give someone the benefit of a few moments of my time. It helps them and in all probably makes me feel good as well.

Let me leave you with what Mike Finger wrote:

“You might ask, where are your boundaries? Do you want texts and calls from clients at all hours? The answer is …. of course not. Not if it’s something mundane that can, and should, obviously wait for the workday. But when the outreach comes from a place of bursting excitement or gut knowing fear …. I love that “boundary crossing”  communication”.

In all probability, we have all been there ourselves, and we remember that feeling of being alone, just needing to speak to someone who could and would understand. So, just call me!

If you want to carry on this discussion but you are not sure where to find us, please click here.

Alan E Long

The Long Partnership

07770 738770



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