Tag Archives: Boundaries


I recently read a post by Seth Godin called No. It expressed exactly where I’d been for about a week. And I was feeling guilty about it. You know, “the customer is always right,” “turn the other cheek,” “grin and bear it,” “don’t sweat the small stuff,” be the “bigger person”?

In the customer service industry, and especially when providing spa services, it is my job to please, to provide comfort, to accept people as they are, to go the extra mile, and to provide a calm environment.

But what is also true is that part of my brand is authenticity: to show up real, to relate truthfully, and to provide luxurious services from a place of personal peace, joy and contentment.

But what happens when I am in a challenging place? When I don’t have extra to give? When people push my already challenged boundaries or act disrespectful? Do I suck it up? Do youalways?

Remember when you were two – or so? You learned that you could choose, you could have an opinion, you could say no. I once dubbed one of my kids “Mr. Opposite” because of his habit of saying no to almost everything.  (Sorry, probably not my best parenting moment.) But I raised my children to have a voice, to be able to articulate their needs and boundaries, to be in “choice,” to take personal responsibility, and to be honest.

Hopefully if we “get” to say no in these developmental years, we will be able to do so as adults. That’s not to say there is never a time or place to put aside our own personal comfort, opinion, or desire.

One of my favorite quotes is from Dag Hammarskjold (Swedish Statesman and United Nations official): “Never for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own convictions.”

When you think about it, you’re not just saying no; you’re also saying yes. Yes to what you would rather have. Yes to what would work for you. Yes to honoring your own limits, boundaries, and things that are important to you. Yes to what you perceive as a healthy interaction or way of doing business.

Truly, there needs to be “no” if there is ever going to be “yes.” Just like the day needs the night, light needs the dark, black needs white, love needs hate. It is the yin and yang of the universe. Saying no to even the good thing allows you to say yes to the best thing.

Now, I’ll admit, as a customer, I want businesses to say yes to me, even when I’m wrong, even when I’m asking for more than they really want to give. It’s the American way, right? And some may say, “If they won’t give me what I want I’ll do business elsewhere.”

That’s not how I do it, and I hope my customers  feel the same. If I like a place, product, or service, I’m going to allow for give and take. It’s not much different than my personal relationships, really. Each party gets to choose, each gets to say yes and no. Reciprocity is my desired model of interaction.

In the end, let your yes be yes and your no be no.  Practice saying yes to more of what you want. And when you say no, be still and breathe. It’s OK. Really.

See you at the spa!

Trust Your Gut

I like to think of myself as altruistic and have often felt disdain for narcissistic behaviors in others. Finding a sensible personal as well as professional balance is an ongoing process.

But before I waste too much of your time on my introspective ramblings, let me get my story out.

The other day I had a call (which was weird from the start) from a woman staying at a local hotel on Grand Ave. just blocks from me. I’ve seen the hotel – it looks sleazy, but what do I know?

Anyway, “Hotel Girl,” we’ll call her, shows up and is in the lobby looking a little “tweaked-out” frantically trying to activate a credit card. Rather an unusual scenario, as she was also already 15 minutes late for her appointment with me.

Earlier I had decided to stay late to see her because I was feeling guilty about taking most of Friday and all of Saturday off to go on a women’s retreat.

She talked me into seeing her, even though payment looked questionable. I had a sense of “knowing” in my gut that this was a shady deal. But feeling like I needed to gear up spiritually for the retreat, I decided to trust her, give her the benefit of the doubt, and not judge.

So the service, a facial, commenced. She continued crossing boundaries by pleading for a lip and chin wax despite the fact that I told her the facial wouldn’t be as effective if we waxed. I ended up doing the waxing she requested.

When the service was over, she came half naked into the lobby and proceeded to finish dressing at the desk…geez!

After another 10-15 minutes struggling with paperwork, cards, and the phone, she emerged payment-less. No surprise.

She then offered me an ID as collateral until she could get back with payment, that was five days ago.

I wish Hotel Girl well, wherever she is. And, as for myself, I need to remember that I am neither altruistic nor narcissistic, as these tend to be extremes on a continuum.  Next time I want to serve the indigent, I will purpose to do so, in the meantime a boundary-refresher course is in order.

Addendum: The service was done Thursday night, Monday I decided to call the GB Police department and gave them her contact info and her ID card. Tuesday her “assistant” called me and gave me a credit card over the phone. This time it went through.

See you at the new spa!

Image courtesy: Jordan Matter Photography “Dancers Among Us” project