Am I good enough?
I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon among some of my clients:
They worry they are not good enough. That they are doing something wrong, and that I’m just too polite to tell them. That somehow, they are falling short. That they are somehow violating the nebulous, often unspoken rules that govern provider-client relationships.
To be clear, these are clients in good standing, who show up on time, pay my fee and respect my boundaries.
And that’s exactly it. They are doing everything exactly right, and I love them for it.
And yet, they have anxiety.
I compare it to the phenomenon of the worried well — people who are basically healthy, and are unnecessarily anxious about their physical or mental health. (That’s not to trivialize my clients’ feelings at all. They are valid.)
If you — yes, you — if you visit providers and ever wonder whether you are one of the “good ones” — you are.
Pretty much automatically. Because a bad client would never ask himself that.
Here’s the thing. If you care, or wonder, that you are a good client, that means you are conscientious. And conscientiousness is a key part (perhaps THE key part) of being a good client to anyone who is providing you a service.
You care about how others see you. You care that your provider enjoys their experience with you. You care about “doing things right.” You care about providers’ feelings and comfort, at least a little bit.
Bad clients don’t care.
So there’s your reassurance. Go forth and have the time of your life, you Good Client, you.
Status anxiety: client edition
Some of this anxiety on the part of good clients can be chalked up to inflated expectations.
After all, providers love to post on social media about our gold-plated, champagne-drenched lives: lavish dinners at Michelin-starred restaurants, overnights in the Presidential Suite, first-class jet-setting, shopping sprees funded by Client X, lingerie and shoes gifted by Client Y, and so on.
Here’s what clients need to understand: For providers, social media is a mix of marketing and PR. Looking pampered and successful at all times is part of the game.
With a few keystrokes, a self-funded vacation is transformed into “a vacation with Client X.” A new outfit purchased on your own can be presented as a gift from Client Y. A dinner with your mother, boyfriend, or buddy from college is suddenly a special evening with Client Z. Do you see the pattern? (For my part, I refuse to engage in such inflation, for the exact reasons I’m exploring in this blog post. Also, working in marketing for 10 years ruined me.)
What providers choose to present is a mix of truth, half-truth and fiction, designed to swell their roster of affluent clients. It’s a brave gambit, and it’s worthwhile enough — one “whale” client can allow a provider to move to a better apartment, increase her rates, invest in her appearance, and so on — but it can create status anxiety among good clients of normal means. “Oh crap, I’ve been seeing Provider A for a year and have never flown her to France. Does she resent me for that?”
As always, I can only speak for myself, but let me say this: Gifts are delightful but never expected. Ditto tips and other perks. Longer engagements — overnights, fly-me-to-yous, weekend bookings, etc. — are an invitation, not an obligation. Most clients can only dream of booking a provider for an entire weekend, for example. Take our social media feeds with a huge chunk of salt. They are largely aspirational. They are marketing strategies, not real life. Presenting a fabulous, luxurious lifestyle is part of providers’ mystique. (Some providers’ mystique, at least.)
As long as you pay my rate, show up on time and respect my boundaries, I’m happy as a clam and will happily accept repeat dates from you as long as you are interested in seeing me. Hand to heart.
Also, I will never begrudge you for booking a one-hour date if that’s what you prefer. If I didn’t like one-hour dates, I wouldn’t offer them.
The Catch-22 of being nice
Secondly, I suspect some of the anxiety comes from the way providers conduct ourselves and the language we use.
Providers show up to dates and — unless you are really, really pushing our buttons — you, as the client, can do no wrong.
All you have to do is book us, and the girl of your dreams will show up at your hotel (sometimes even your house!), or beckon you into our own inner sanctums. We float in — gorgeous, charming, almost otherworldly creatures; our pleasure is your pleasure; and we will blow your mind and send you back into the real world a better, happier, more confident person. And all we ask for in return is that you screen, pay our rate, show up on time and treat us halfway decently.
It’s basically the deal of the century.
Plus, providers are experts at keeping everything light-hearted and positive. We will direct your behavior with feather-light nudges. “Take a shower, please,” becomes, “Would you like a shower?” Similarly, “I need a little break,” becomes, “Let me pour us more wine.”
We’re endlessly patient, gracious, open-minded, and smooth, because that’s our job. We will pamper you and treat you like a king. We will compliment you. We will gaze into your eyes. It’s too good. If you are a conscientious and analytical person, prone to over-analyzing things, it can cause some anxiety. It’s good…it’s way too good.
Here’s my advice to clients on this point: enjoy the moment, don’t stress, and rest assured that if you are truly making us uncomfortable, we will tell you.
Also, reputable providers derive joy from making sure you are having a good time. Remember this. Your good time is our good time (within reason). We love making you happy.
Also, don’t waste any time worrying about whether we like you, or think you are good-looking or charming or gifted or anything else.
First off, we are too busy making sure you have a good time and making sure our hair doesn’t look too crazy.
Second, we are just thrilled you are here to see us, and — because you made the excellent choice of booking us — we are exquisitely flattered, intrigued, and thrilled to be in the company of you, a person of exquisite taste.
Lastly, if you are able, keep booking that provider, because she will inevitably get more comfortable with you over time, which usually makes your interactions more fun for both of you.
If I messed up, will the provider let me know?
If you’ve never experienced your provider becoming increasingly insistent that you need to do something, or stop doing something — congratulations, you are doing great.
I’ve told off clients for plenty of things. I’ve fired clients when necessary. I hate having to do it, but sometimes it’s necessary. Rest assured that providers are grown adults and when push comes to shove, we will direct you as needed.
Or, if we feel unsafe, we will leave the session. Or, we will ghost you. We will stop answering your messages.
Truly bad clients push boundaries during appointments and don’t take “no” for an answer. Those two things, together, are a dangerous mix. (Even good clients may accidentally push a boundary, but will readily accept a “no” from the provider.)
In that situation, a providers’ survival instinct kicks up several notches. The man who doesn’t take “no” for an answer is dangerous. So, we simply disengage.
We extricate ourselves from dangerous situations as quickly as possible, then stop answering his messages, or pretend to be busy when he asks for a date. Avoidance is the path of least resistance and, actually, the only viable option, because telling an abusive or delusional man “no, I won’t see you again” is an invitation for harassment, stalking, outing, and violence.
If you read the preceding paragraph with a mix of surprise and horror, congrats — you’re one of the good ones.
Of course, providers have our own complex situations too, and we may ignore messages from good clients because we are taking a break from working, or we are having a health crisis, or because our priorities in life have shifted, or because we just adopted a puppy, or because we are busy dealing with our own shit. Don’t take it personally. If you like, move onto other providers. You are free to do so.
In short, all it takes to be a good client — a great one, in fact — is to be a decent human being. To realize that providers are humans too. To see us as individuals who have our own preferences, boundaries, likes and dislikes. And to observe blindingly obvious rules, such as, “pay her fee without argument.”
“How can I be better?”
Occasionally, a client will ask me, “How can I be a better client?”
It’s an endearing question. I spend a lot of time working on being a better provider. So, when a good client asks for how he can be better — it makes me like him even more. Because it shows he cares about our relationship.
Predictably, my answer is some version of, “Dear God, man, you are doing great already.” The question itself holds the answer: You are already a good client.
The other thing I say in response is, “Keep booking me if you are able, and if you are interested.”
Perhaps that is a generic answer. Perhaps it’s unsatisfying to my client. I’m not sure.
The brutally honest answer, of course, is: tip. Tip early and often. Put an extra $20 in the envelope, if you are able. Email her gift cards in between appointments, or simply if you like her photos, or something she said on Twitter made you laugh or think. Even if you’ve never met her and may never meet her. Tips and gifts are always appreciated. We always notice. Even if it’s just an extra $10, or a $20 Amazon gift card emailed out of the blue. It means a lot to us. Remember how I said before that tips and gifts are never expected, but always appreciated? That’s exactly the point. They make us feel special.
If you are not able to tip, writer her a little note about how you appreciate her, or offer to write her a review or testimonial. Those things cost nothing. But if you can, tip.
The bottom line
If you read this, you are probably already a good client. Nay, a great one. Of, if you have never booked a provider but read this blog post: you have the makings of a good client.
Only good clients question whether they are good clients.
If I answer your emails, you are a good client (or I believe you have the makings of one) and I can’t wait to see you.
If you are on my bad side, you’ll know.
Don’t trust everything you see on social media.
Pay your provider’s rate. Treat her like a human. Respect her boundaries. Rebook her, if you like. By doing those things, you are automatically a good client and any provider would be thrilled to see you again and again.
Above all, relax and enjoy your time with your chosen provider(s). All we have is the present.