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If you are an individual starting a new virtual assistance business, I want to warn you: Try as you may to avoid it, at some point with many clients you will become a virtual therapist.
The title “Virtual Assistant” often gets interchanged with “Personal Assistant” by our clients, and as such we become VERY familiar with the going-ons of their everyday lives. We hear about our clients’ children, spouses/significant others, parents, siblings, living situations, pets and health. We may be asked to do research regarding any of the fore-mentioned subjects, and we may have to listen to our clients vent about what is going on in their lives. Unfortunately catastrophes in our clients’ lives sometimes impact their tone in speaking with us regarding work-related matters.
What do we do?
Simply put, we put on our invisible ear plugs, use tact, and ignore the yelling. I must say that I have only encountered one client who yelled. In her case, somebody had encouraged her to venture into a new work arena. She wasn’t comfortable with this new work, and it stressed her out greatly. That person was NOT me or anybody else from Sutton Creative Studios, and I was hired to help her with her new endeavor. It was difficult, to say the least.
Notice I did not divulge the name of this client, and I am not giving details about any of our interactions. As a virtual assistant, we need to respect our clients, past AND present, and allow them dignity and privacy. Not only do they appreciate this respect, but it should be considered to be an unspoken/unwritten addition to your contract. I am, at many times, a virtual therapist, and my clients should know that they can speak to me in confidence without worry that I will spill their private information to the world.
Do you have clients who act as a virtual therapist for? How do you handle any of their outbursts?
Kim Sutton is a founding partner of Sutton Creative Studios, an agency specializing in social media management, graphic design and virtual assistance. She is a graduate of The School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Interior Architecture.
In her free-time, Kim cherishes the time she gets to spend with her husband, Dave (her business partner), and three children. She also enjoys reading, knitting and writing.
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