“I need the name of a good flooring company and painter…now!”
The text was from someone I had known for years, but hadn’t spoken to in months because she’s a user. She appreciates what I do for my clients, but she doesn’t respect my time or ability. She doesn’t consider that the time I spend helping her with a project at no charge, will take time away from my clients who do pay.
What do you say?
When a friend asks for a favor, do you tell your friend NO and risk insulting him or her? Or do you put your clients aside and help your friend because you don’t want to lose that friendship? If you can answer those questions honestly, either you’ll keep letting others take advantage of you, or you’ll realize that your friends need to see your value, the same way your clients see it.
What do you do?
Take a mental inventory of your friends and figure out which ones are users. Decide whether or not it’s worth spending time with them or with others who appreciate your abilities. My guess is that when you take time to think about who appreciates you, you’ll spend less time with the users, and more time with your friends who don’t want anything from you but your friendship. Those are the friends who rarely ask you for anything, but when they do, you’ll help with no questions asked. I have a handful of those friends who, day or night, know they can count on me.
What about next time?
The next time a friend asks you to do yet one more favor, consider what your expertise is worth. Think about what you will you have to give up to help someone who will ask you to do something for him or her again. Consider why a friend thinks it’s OK to ask for your time, help, and advice, for nothing. Sure, doing favors for friends is part of any friendship. but at some point enough is enough and your friendship will change from a mutually beneficial, give-and-take relationship, to a one-sided, constantly-giving relationship.
The site Freelance Switch — I’m one of their newest fans — published a comic that illustrates how hard it is to turn someone down, especially when you’ve always considered that person a friend. Something to think about.