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Three Must-Have Client Scripts To Help You (Gracefully) Navigate The Holidays

In: Communication Skills

There is only one reason for this blog post:

Because your (hard-working heart) likely sucks at setting boundaries with your clients. And guess what? It's only going to get harder during the holidays—when you most want to relax, stop working for 3.4 seconds, and drink ALL the egg nog. (Followed by a chocolate covered cherry eating contest and at least one afternoon delight.)

So behold. Three TMF written-and-approved client scripts to help you (gracefully) navigate the holidays like a real pro—without being a real pro asshole.

Scenario #1: When you need to tell an ongoing client that you’ll be taking some time off for the holiday—and need to pause your work together (because, oops, you forgot to lay out this expectation at the onset when you had them sign your contract.)


As promised, I'll be sending over the mock-up we discussed on Friday–it's coming along well! (And I'm confident you're going to love the direction.) 

I know we got off to a quick start / I know we've been knees deep in our work together lately, but before things get too crazy with the holidays, I wanted to discuss a plan of attack for any holiday time-off we may need to account for that could affect our project schedule / work together. 

Which days will you be off the grid downing hot chocolate with the fam? 

I'll be happily working away on my end until <insert date>, at which point, I'll be off through <insert the days you'll be taking off>, returning to work <insert the date you'll be back in action.> 

Can we sync up our schedules? I will, of course, make sure our project stays on timeline regardless of any holiday interruptions. 

Let me know what we're working with!

You –

Why It Works:

  • You set the expectation that there will be holiday time off, rather than put yourself in the submissive position by asking for it. (You *are* entitled to some–it's OKAY.)
  • You come across as professional, proactive & put-together in asking to discuss a plan of attack.
  • You talk in terms of their holiday vacation first, making them realize they'll likely be taking time off, too, and hello—look at you both being humans!
  • You're positioning the project schedule and your work together as your priority–not your soul-shriveling need to GET! AWAY! FROM THE! COMPUTER!

Scenario #2: When a client or prospective client unexpectedly wants you to take on work during time you planned to spend off for the holidays—and you choose to accept it. (But don't want to resent them forever and ever.)

Hi, client – 

Glad to hear from you! You know how much I love our work together, and I'd be honored to jump back on board. Right now I'm wrapping my project schedule for 2013 , and am technically off now through <insert date> on account of the holidays, but because it's you, I'm happy to help out if I can.

Would you be agreeable to a project fee of <insert quote>? This includes my standard rush fee for holiday work, and also compensates for the little salsa dance I'll have to do with my schedule to make it happen, but as long as you give the green light, it's a go on my end.

Let's do it – 


Why It Works:

  • You make it clear that you're doing them a favor by accepting the project on short-notice, and during the holidays—which sets the expectation for the rush fee that you deserve.
  • You let them know that the rush fee during the holidays is standard—and something they can expect in the future, too, if they happen to be what I call a Short Notice Nancy.
  • You don't sound like a grubby little Grinch. In fact, you sound MORE professional for setting your client boundaries. Not less.

Scenario #3: When a client or prospective client unexpectedly wants you to take on work during the time you planned to spend off for the holidays—and you choose to decline (but don’t want to lose them as a client forever!)

Hi, client!

Glad to hear from you! You know how much I love our work together, and I'd be honored to jump back on board. Right now I actually just wrapped my project schedule for 2013, and am technically off now through <insert date> on account of the holidays. 

That said, I know you need <insert what they need>, and I want to help you however I can. 

Why don't we do this?

If we can kick off the project on <insert day you're back>, I'll make sure it gets done in advance of your originally anticipated timeline—and I'll even give you a special rate for your patience. You win time + money, and we both win a few days off for the holidays to embarrass ourselves in front of our family doing the hip hop karaoke version of Frosty The Snowman.

If you're agreeable, I'm in. 

If this doesn't work for you, let me know, and I'll propose another solution that will. 

Is it snowing where you are yet? 


Why It Works:

  • You make the client's needs feel important.
  • You take charge of the situation by proposing a solution.
  • The solution works in their favor, and not just yours.
  • You remind them that they should probably take some time off, too, to embarrass themselves in front of their family.
  • You'll be viewed more as a partner—and not just a service provider—by offering to propose another solution if that one doesn't work (in which case, you can adjust from there.)
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