It happens to the best of us, you know. Something that seems small, throwaway, meaningless even can up-skittle you and trap you in an overthinking loop that makes you want to scream.
'Jane Explains' episodes are where I answer a question from a reader and today it's an interesting one, because it's probably something that happens to us all, and when it does, prepare to fall down that overthinking rabbit hole.
Today, I ruminate on how to respond when someone leaves a kiss (X) on a message to you.
Today I answer Amandas question:
On the subject of communication with potential new clients I have recently come across a communication dilemma which is giving me some thought!
If a new client makes an enquiry and puts kisses at the end of their message, do you respond with kisses at the end of yours?
I worry that if I do I’ll look unprofessional and I worry that if I don’t I’ll come across as cold and not meeting the client where they are and could even trigger feelings in them of rejection?
Maybe I’m overthinking it?
Would love to know what you think?
I’ve just started your book btw and love it, thank you very much!”
Great question Amanda, and I’m delighted to hear that you are loving the Grow Your Private Practice book - available on Amazon thank you!
Has this ever happened to you?
Or have you ever texted your boss, or someone inappropriate like your father in law and put a kiss at the end?
This reminds me of a radio jingle that would say ‘kisses on the bottom - ooh err!’ which always made me laugh!
So I think there are 3 things to look at here:
- Why people leave a kiss on correspondence with you
- Whether you are overthinking
- What should you do if it happens
Why do people end a text or email with a kiss X?
Communication has become so much more casual these days hasn't it. I mean, think, when was the last time you wrote a formal letter? I haven't for such a long time, I literally can’t remember the last time I used snail mail apart from greetings cards.
So you’re used to texts and emails and probably send and received text based communication all day every day.
And as such, we’ve been experimenting with ways to express our feelings via text so that a message isn't either misunderstood, or doesn't come across as starchy or stark.
When we started texting a lot, we made up acronyms like LOL to let people know that we are joking about something so it wouldn't be taken the wrong way.
Because let’s face it, us brits often have quite a sarcastic sense of humour don't we? Or is it just me?
And then emojis and gifs etc. started becoming available to help with this. Which are great, aren't they?
These can soften the meaning of the text you send to avoid misunderstandings,
So it's become commonplace to end a message with an X just as a friendly way of signing off.
I do it too! If you email me, there is a very good chance that I’ll sign off my reply just with a Jx.
But if I was contacted by say someone wanting me to be a guest on their podcast, I wouldn't. It just wouldn't feel right. It's just not appropriate.
Are you overthinking this?
Ok, you are a counsellor. When a client comes to you for a session, it’s your job to listen to them. But it's far more than just hearing what they say isn’t it.
- Giving the client your full, focused attention
- Listening to what they say
- Considering what they don't say
- Noticing how they say it
- Being aware of their tone of voice
- Reading body language
You're using your counselling skills and empathy to fully understand whats happening for the client
These are the basic skills of a therapist. Which means basically, you are PAID to overthink!
So it stands to reason that in any communication you have with clients, you will take a little extra care so there are no misunderstandings.
So no, personally I don’t think it’s overthinking for a therapist to think things through thoroughly to ensure there isn’t a negative consequence to their actions.
What to do if someone leaves an X at the bottom of their message?
I often leave an X at the bottom of a message just through force of habit - like a muscle memory. I do it without thinking. And this could have happened for your client.
They might even have hit send and then had a head desk moment, thinking ‘I can’t believe I just did that’
But what should you do?
Personally, I wouldn’t sign off with an X on something I send to a client.
But of course - and you know what I’m going to say now - there is no absolute ‘right’ way.
I asked my GYPP members what they'd do, and of the 28 that responded, 100% said they would reply without an X.
BUT they also said they might leave a simile face or emoji to soften the ending.
And a caveat to this is if you are corresponding with a client you already have a therapeutic relationship with then you might feel comfortable enough to match the x at the end just as a gesture of friendliness.
And something else that came up in my reflection on this was to trust your intuition. If you received a X on a message from someone that feels more flirty than friendly, be aware of what’s happening for you.
It’s funny how something that seems such a simple question grows into something thought provoking interesting isn’t it?
So Amanda, I hope this has helped, thank you so much for asking your question and thanks for listening to the show.
Do you have a question you’d like me to answer for you?
Don't waste time trying to work things out on your own, contact me with your question and I might answer you on a podcast. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a DM on my socials - you can find me on LinkedIn or Instagram
And I'm always happy to receive a X at the end
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So all thats left to say is have a fabulous rest of the day, and a big ole kiss to you XXX