When peer counseling, we sometimes find ourselves in deep waters indeed. It’s easy to not know how to respond and, should you ever find yourself there, I hope you’ll consider the obvious admission: “I don’t know what to say”. No problem there, no harm, no foul.

Yet, sometimes, we find ourselves counseling someone who doesn’t share our sense of boundaries. If you shared a phone number, that might mean calls at odd hours. It might mean a plea for help that you’re not qualified to answer.

Aside from honesty and doing your best, how can you abscond from a relationship that’s soured? First, an ounce of prevention beats two tonnes of cure.

  • Use a separate number for phone calls. Google Voice provides a free phone number that links to yours, texts and all when you use the app. Like any phone, it can block unwanted numbers. Like a fancy business phone, it can screen calls by having a robot ask for the name of the caller.
  • Skype/Zoom anonymously. Skype allows you to call, chat, and conference without signing in (another, separate account must make the meeting). Use a unique Zoom account for clients. Gruveo seems to care especially about anonymity (as well as many others I’m not yet familiar with).
  • Send One-Way Emails with disposable addresses. This one borders on paranoid, given how easy it is to block email. Yet, it’s been long known by marketers that there are hundreds of disposable email addresses at your disposal. GuerillaMail is one such example. Email sent from a service like this generally does not have a valid return address, making it one-way. Or… just use a separate email address for clients.

How important are any of these tips? Probably not essential. I may be naive to the horrors of the internet, but I’ve personally had all my personal information front and center to anyone with the slightest curiosity. The result? Eh, I probably get more spam than you do. Aside from that, it’s all good.

Yet, why not take a moment to give yourself an organized system? It provides an emergency exit, definitely, but it also just tidies up your communication. That may or may not feel like work, but I suspect you’re likely to appreciate keeping work and life in their own tidy domains.

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