A funny thing happened on the way to the office today…Nah, I just really wanted to say that, but something interesting did happen and it is giving me the opportunity to stretch myself and test myself in several areas. As always, a little history is needed to give you the full picture so please bear with me.
Lucy and I started this virtual assistant business four and a half years ago. It took awhile to get off the ground and I almost gave up. In July of 2012, a woman who lives in another state, reached out to me looking for a virtual assistant. She had been given my name by a mutual connection. We talked about her needs and at that time, I was just learning how to build websites. She understood that and wanted me to build hers. I sent her the contract and thus began our working relationship.
I built her a beautiful website, one of my first, and I was so very proud of the work I did. She loved her website too. From there I moved on to creating her newsletters, updating her forum, posting her social media, managing her calendar, managing her email database…you get the picture. Things were running pretty smoothly until last year.
All of our communication is done via email and this had always worked for us. She would send me her request and I would respond when completed, which was usually between 24-48 hours. If something wasn’t exactly the way she wanted it, she would let me know and I would fix it. No problems…until last year. She would send me email requests and I would work on them and let her know when completed. If I used the wrong font or she didn’t like the spacing, or whatever the issue was, she seemed to be more and more condescending as time went by.
As we came into 2015, it started getting worse. I felt as if everything I did for her was wrong. Now trust me when I say, if I did it wrong or it’s not exactly to your liking, I will fix it! I’m a people pleaser! I want it to be perfect for you and I take pride in my work! However, be polite when you communicate. Don’t treat me like an idiot!
Back in May, when Google sent out their mobile-friendly site notices, she wanted me to convert all her sites to be mobile-friendly. She purchased a new mobile-friendly theme for the site I originally built for her and I tried to explain the process of changing her theme. For two weeks, emails were flying back and forth. Not only was I changing the theme, she had tons of changes she wanted all throughout the site. The theme was just released and had glitches all over the place so I was constantly communicating with the support desk. Each email I received was more condescending than the last. I even had someone else review the emails to make sure I wasn’t being overly sensitive and they took them the same way; extremely condescending.
In an effort to stand up for myself and communicate to her how I was interpreting her emails, I asked her to, “please refrain from using a condescending tone” in her communications to me. To which she replied,
“I don’t mean to be condescending, my comments are simply a reminder. Had I not mentioned the needed changes they would have been overlooked.”
Ok, I felt I had made her aware and we would move on. Nope, we just continued to spiral after that. Her last email to me stated (among other things), “I should have just hired a professional web designer.” to which I replied (after addressing the rest), “And yes, I agree.”
We did not communicate for a month and I was just thinking she would not contact me anymore. I drug my feet on writing up a termination of contract notice because, well, because I’m codependent…Yep, didn’t want to do the ugly stuff. She finally contacted the first week of June about getting her newsletters done and asked me to put it on my calendar to be sure they were completed by a certain time. Shit!
I created the newsletters and sent them to her and then a couple of days later, I typed up my 30-day termination notice and sent that too. It stated I would no longer do work for her after July 26th. This was her response:
That’s okay, I’ve been interviewing VAs for the last couple of months; I have several to choose from. I could sense your energy and knew we weren’t a good fit anymore. Thanks anyway.
Whew! It was all good. I did the dirty and survived. What a relief. I am my own boss and I have the luxury of being able to choose who I will and won’t work with. Notice I said, “with”? Yep, I am not their employee. I am a business owner, I do not work “for” anyone but myself. It’s all in the mindset…hahaha
That brings us to today…July 24th. I walk into my office and this is the email I received from her:
Subject: I’m sorry… 🙂
I miss you… Would you be willing to work for me again? I apologize for things not going great before. Dealing with chronic mono has been extremely difficult… And I haven’t felt like myself for nearly a year… You’ve been there from the beginning; I value our history and friendship.
Thanks for reconsidering, I look forward to hearing from you! 🙂
Well now… here’s the struggle. Do I take her back as a client with the boundaries clearly defined? Do I say, sorry and I wish you well? I have to find the balance in what is right for me and not cave into my codependency because I don’t want to hurt someone feelings. If I take her back or if I let her go, what is my motive? I’m going to have to really think this one through…I think.
Anyway, a funny thing happened on the way to the office…