I love Facebook, it’s my ultimate time waster along with ”research.”  I love Facebook because it gets to function as a nice little Petri Dish of human interaction, dysfunction, success, failure, and chaos.  Plus, there are cute animal photos and those witty eCards!

Watching all of that on Facebook can cause me/you/us to really pick out certain struggles and successes, because they mirror our own experiences.  One of the places I really get to examine where I fall short is when other people plan poorly and then want/expect/demand that I swoop in and save the day.

Believe me… I LOVE BEING THE HERO!  I mean, come on, how cool is it to know that I – single-handedly saved the day?!  Nothin, nothing beats feeling like a rock star. 

Unless of course, being the hero is killing me, the person needing saved continually needs to be saved, and those unprepared jerks are more than willing to take me down with them…

So, naturally, I notice when these little circumstances pop up in my Facebook Universe.  People get stuck wanting to swoop in and be the hero, creating chaos, murky boundaries, and killing themselves in the process.  What’s a girl to do when these messy situations show up?  How can they be handled with grace, humility, and authenticity?!?!  Let’s tackle it together utilizing the following work scenario that service based entrepreneurs find themselves in all the time:

Barbarella: Oh Suzy!!!  I’m totally swamped and in need – I’m totally lost.  I know that we’d talked about it before and I couldn’t take you up on your offer/sign up for the class/get my shit together, but now I NEED you to help me!  My deadline/speech/presentation is in 2 days!  Squeeze me in!”

Suzy: [Internal Dialogue] Crap!  That’s why I wanted you to sign up 2 weeks ago!  I told you I’d be booked up soon, 2 days isn’t enough time!  I really needed to start working with you 3 months ago to really get the best results!!!  I could maybe squeeze her in tomorrow, but I only have 45 minutes… shit, what do I do?!

We’ve all been there – tons of times.  Our need to be of service and help clouds our responses and we end of doing one of two things:

One – Getting caught up in these people’s messy problems, creating some dependency.  You’ve let them dump it all at your feet once, they’ll keep coming back and doing it again if you let them – which makes them dependent and doesn’t do them any good – AT ALL.  At the same time, they might not be happy with the results because you never got to set parameters, rules, and  manage expectations – no one wins in this scenario.  Worst of all, you’ve set a precedent – they’ll expect it again and you’re kinda screwed.

Two – You tell them no and bungle the relationship.  Most entrepreneurs expect that once they say, “no, I can’t take that on.” the relationship has ended because you couldn’t be their everything – not true!  You’ve shown that you’re strong, set boundaries, and managed expectation – as long as it’s handed properly.

How do you avoid both of these extremes while still being authentic, present, and of service – all while keeping your own sanity?  Preparedness, that’s how.  Ok and phrasing.

Phrasing your limitations and managing their expectations is paramount to being effective.

So, let’s break this down and start with a script.

“Hey Barbarella, I’m sure you’re freaking out, I get it – I want this to be an awesome event too!  I’m so glad you turned to me to help you with this and I want to make sure you get my best work!  My best work requires 2-3 months notice. If you need me to squeeze you in I have 30 minutes from 3:45-4:15pm MST on October 5th, it will cost $439, and I need to know by October 4th at 4pm to make this work and get you onto my schedule. I’m excited to work with you and know your presentation can be great. I also have more time available after March 1, 2015 to really take you to the next level and knock your socks off!  Details for future bookings can be found here. I can’t wait to hear back from you and really knock this out of the park together.”

There’s a lot here, so let’s break it down so you know WHY it’s there and then make it your own!

Hey Barbarella, I’m sure you’re freaking out, I get it – I want this to be an awesome event too!  {It’s super important you acknowledge their crisis right off the bat – they need to know you’re in their corner, heard their crisis, and empathize!}

I’m so glad you turned to me to help you with this and I want to make sure you get my best work!  {Gratitude goes a long way, you’re also being honest – you want them to have an amazing experience.  It will lead to return business, referrals, and good karma.}

My best work requires 2-3 months notice. {DO NOT APOLOGIZE FOR YOUR STANDARDS!!!  Clearly state what you’re ideal work timeline looks like.  It’s so easy to soften this because we want to be nice, however, they’re in crisis – they need parameters, quick answers, and limits.  This is for everyone’s benefit – they know that you can’t give them everything you’ve got – but you can if given proper time.}

If you need me to squeeze you in I have 30 minutes from 3:45-4:15pm MST on October 5th, it will cost $439, and I need to know by October 4th at 4pm to make this work and get you onto my schedule.   {This is a loaded sentence and it’s all in one sentence for a good reason – give them all the limits and don’t give them a chance to stop and only get a part of it by breaking it up with a period.  Always give a little less time than you have, you’ll be hyper focused and they will be too!  Give a VERY specific time frame, this helps cut down on the back and forth of trying to wiggle things here and there – take it or leave it.  Now they know when you’re available, but if they take you up on this at 3:40 on October 5th, you might not be available!  You deserve the ability to plan for this and make it worthwhile for everyone, which means you need to know with enough time to get it on your calendar.  This is a last minute appointment and extra unexpected cash, don’t belittle that by charging half the rate because it’s half the time!  This is valuable and inconvenient and comes at a premium – you’re bringing your A++ game, they need to as well.  Nothing makes people work like money does, so go just outside your comfort level on this one and make it worth your time and stress too!  You’re also pushing the price into the middle of the sentence so that it’s not the last thing they read – it’s a psychological thing that works in your favor.}

I’m excited to work with you and know your presentation can be great.  {There’s a chance they’ll work without you and you need to honor and recognize that.  Give them kudos and encouragement – they’re freaking out and you know the feeling – empathize, don’t sympathize.}

I also have more time available after March 1, 2015 to really take you to the next level and knock your socks off!  {Keep the door open for future engagements, they came to you in the first place because they think you can solve their problems.  You can, especially when you’re in YOUR ELEMENT and working your own time frame and process.  If they say “no” now, that doesn’t mean they won’t look you up after this fiasco is over, they probably won’t want to repeat this little crisis and will be a little more proactive next time.  They deserve a chance at work with you and your genius – keep that door open and inviting.}

Details for future bookings can be found here.  {Show them where that door is and make it simple.  Send them right to your programs/offerings/booking calendar.  What would be even better is if you have the perfect offering for them that would have avoided this whole thing in the first place.  They’ll take a look in their current state and see, laid out before them on a silver platter, the answer they’re seeking and a chance to never be in the same stuck place again.}

I can’t wait to hear back from you and really knock this out of the park together.  {Again, we’re bookending things and making sure that we don’t end with an offer, but that we’re ending with a heartfelt offer of help for either now or in the future.  Plus, assuming that they’ll work with you later -when done tactfully – is a great psychological hook and puts you in the column of ‘awesome resource/helper/savior’ even if they don’t take you up on it right now.  The goal is to be authentic and really root for them – then they will return the favor by rooting for you with referrals and future business.}

That’s a lot to digest, but when you’re crafting systems to keep your business running smoothly you’ll thank yourself for putting so much into it early on.

Keep this in an easily accessible place – like an email to yourself so that you can copy, paste, change details, and send this out to clients while you’re on the go.  No need to obsess – you’ve worked it out and it’s coming from an authentic place – with everyone’s best interest at heart.

Your authenticity will shine through and you’ll win over those “no’s” by creating a framework for your interactions, giving them a direct answer while they’re in crisis, and allowing them to take ownership.

Remember to take a moment the next time someone wants to make their emergency yours and breathe.  Sit with it and take a look at this option and see if it fits.

Make sure to pass on this easy formula to anyone you think would benefit and tell me how you’ve made it your own!