Private counselors: What’s on your “No” list?

Private counselors, like many professionals that deal with clients, often end up accepting whatever customers—and their associated behaviors—that come their way. This is especially true when you’ve got financial responsibilities at home and additional expenses at work, like office rent, insurance, or salaries for your employees.

But as difficult as it might be to do, it’s important to create a “No” list. These are the clients, the behaviors, the scenarios that you do not allow in your practice. There’s no standard, professionally accepted list of what belongs in this category. So you should base this on those areas that weaken you, that don’t allow you to do your best work for people who are predisposed to appreciate it.

A few areas to consider:

What expectations would make you turn away a potential customer and send them to a competitor?

When will you not be available to your clients?

What services will you not provide at any price?

What would a client need to do for you to fire them?

What will you never do in support of a student’s college candidacy?

If you have trouble coming up with a list, try a different method. If you could go back in time and replace any of your current families with others, would you do it? If so, what behaviors, requests, or other factors would make you want to release those folks? And what would you look for in those families who replaced them?

The first step to getting more of the latter is to have fewer of the former.