Communication Boundaries


“I get phone calls/text messages/emails from clients at the most inconvenient times, like the middle of the night. What are clients thinking?”


image7791Before “The Age of Constant Contact,” when we left our work for the day, we clocked out entirely. Now employers, clients, and friends have the unreasonable expectation that we should be available 24/7. Our lives should not be revolving around work and constant, immediate availability shouldn’t be expected of us.

Jaime Unless I’m being paid, my time is my own to spend how I choose. I’m not obligated to answer my phone or reply to a text/email, any more than I’m obligated to answer my front door.

image7791 Prior to the invention of cell phones, etiquette prohibited calling prior to 9am or after 6pm. Now, it’s considered rude not to be available at all times.

JaimeAt what point did intrusions become acceptable and boundaries become rudeness? Just because some people make themselves readily available around the clock doesn’t mean that everyone chooses to be. When calling others, I try to be mindful of their schedules, time zone differences, etc. I don’t necessarily expect them to answer unless we’ve arranged to speak. That’s why I prefer email.

image7791I’m too busy to pick up unscheduled calls and lack the patience to play phone tag. It became easier for everyone involved to arrange a mutually convenient time to speak via email. It probably sounds crazy that I need to schedule appointments for personal calls, but it works.

JaimeThat’s not crazy at all! Because you’re choosing when it’s most convenient to talk,  you can prepare in advance, and devote your time, without multitasking.

image7791Exactly. Scheduling calls isn’t only about convenience; it’s about what callers deserve from us when we’re communicating. By scheduling appointments or only taking calls during predefined hours when you have availability, you can guarantee active participation in the conversation. If you can’t be present and focused on the caller, send them to voicemail and return their call when you can be.

JaimeAnother peeve . . . if you play phone tag, at least move the “conversation” along by leaving information. Someone who leaves a voicemail saying “I want to schedule an appointment,” without providing any details is wasting time. I could have gotten that much from caller ID. Yet another, when someone apparently ignores the information contained in your voicemail greeting, and asks for times when you don’t even work.

image7791We’re talking about people who seem to think calling and texting outside of business hours is acceptable. Of course they’re going to request appointments outside of the schedule. They’ve already demonstrated they have no respect for the technician’s time and expect to be accommodated at their own convenience.

JaimeFrom my perspective, it’s not rude to ignore people, like telemarketers, who don’t deserve your attention in the first place. Automated calls, or conversations that start with, “May I speak to the owner?” are some of the easiest to end abruptly.

image7791Most people don’t realize they’re being impolite by calling during these obscene hours, but, “I intended to leave a voicemail,” isn’t a valid excuse. Most of our cell phones also function as our home and office phones so, “I thought your phone would be off,” isn’t either. Establish boundaries. I advise utilizing a service like Google Voice, which allows you to set different voicemails and availability for each contact group. Separate your contacts into “Work” and “Personal” groups and configure your settings to forward work contacts to voicemail during your off time.

JaimeProfessionals should not allow remote interruptions to interfere with actual client interaction. Despite what clients might have us think, true nail emergencies are very rare. Answering the phone, or obviously responding to texts and emails while working on a client, is not acceptable. Do it between clients, but not during. In my salon, the phone ringer is silenced, so we’re not even tempted and the client experience is not disrupted.

image7791Many professionals hold a false assumption that success requires constant, immediate availability. It really, really doesn’t. Success requires consistency, quality, and great customer service. You don’t owe anyone your personal time in any capacity.

Tina Alberino on EmailTina Alberino on FacebookTina Alberino on InstagramTina Alberino on PinterestTina Alberino on TumblrTina Alberino on TwitterTina Alberino on Wordpress
Tina Alberino
Salon Management Consultant at This Ugly Beauty Business
Licensed cosmetologist and beauty industry advocate, Tina Alberino is a trusted resource, providing a wealth of information and personalized advice. Tina’s extensive consulting experience informs her writing, available here and on her blog, This Ugly Beauty Business. Her first book, The Beauty Industry Survival Guide, delivers relevant content in the bold and brazen style that has become Tina’s trademark. Areas of expertise include employment law, tax law, ethical salon management practices and professional development.
Jaime Schrabeck on EmailJaime Schrabeck on FacebookJaime Schrabeck on InstagramJaime Schrabeck on PinterestJaime Schrabeck on TwitterJaime Schrabeck on Wordpress
Jaime Schrabeck
Salon Management Consultant at Precision Nails
Celebrating more than 25 years in the nail industry, Jaime Schrabeck, Ph.D. works as a licensed manicurist and owner of Precision Nails, an exclusive nails-only salon in Carmel, California. Beyond the salon, she directs international competitions, teaches classes, organizes events, consults with manufacturers and other salon owners and advises California’s Board of Barbering and Cosmetology as an expert witness.

Comments 2

  1. Pingback: This Ugly Beauty Business / Why Favors Don’t Pay and Clients Can’t Be “Friends”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.