You probably don’t even realise you’re doing these things. Or maybe you do, but you think your actions are the height of good manners.
And you’ll probably think I’m a rude bitch who doesn’t give a shit about anyone after reading this (except not really, because obviously I’m going to put forward a highly convincing argument).
So, are you guilty of the following three things? Because if you are, you’re coming across as an amateur and severely degrading the perceived value of the service you provide.
1. Justifying Yourself
Do you ever find yourself justifying to a prospective client why you can’t do something? Or explaining why your rates are what they are? Well stop it. Because when you justify yourself, you’re basically saying, ‘I’m not sure of myself, and I really don’t know what I’m doing.’
A friend of mine often feels the need to explain to her prospects why she can’t start a project straight away, or why something will take her so long to do. I’ve been there myself, too.
You want to accommodate anybody who’s willing to give you money, because, well… you’re desperate to make money. And you feel like telling somebody you can’t start work straight away will make them not want to work with you any more. So you rush to justify yourself, explaining that you’ll be able to start by [certain date], but you can’t do it before then because you’re working on this other project and finishing that thing up.
But the thing is, it’s a GOOD thing if you can’t start work right away. It means you’re in demand. Other people have hired you so you couldn’t possibly fit anyone else in until a certain date. Hurrah, go you!
So when you scramble to explain yourself, that gentle aroma of desperation wafts from you. It becomes clear that you want this client. You NEED this client.
Now take a second to remind yourself that, actually, your client needs YOU. And if they understand the value in hiring you, they will be willing to wait. If they demand something right away, they’re a guaranteed pain in the ass. The kind who will beat your prices down and demand more and more for less and less.
Okay, so I’m not saying you should NEVER apologise. If you kick somebody in the shin while trying to squeeze past them on the subway, you should. Obviously. But you shouldn’t apologise to people when you can’t help them because you’re too busy, or you don’t provide that service, or you simply don’t want to.
It’s a strange moment when you realise that you don’t need to jump at the opportunity to work with someone, and even stranger when you realise that you don’t need to apologise for that.
Wish people luck, sure. Tell them you hope they find somebody. But don’t apologise. Because what do you have to apologise for? You’ve done nothing wrong, and behaving as though you have screams of ‘I don’t think I’m enough.’
3. Thanking People for Contacting You
Do you think you’re being polite when you thank people for getting in touch?
Aside from the fact that it’s a pointless waste of words — something that I, as a writer, am against — thanking somebody is like saying, ‘OH I’M SO GRATEFUL TO YOU FOR DOING ME THIS FAVOUR. I DON’T KNOW HOW I WOULD BUY FOOD THIS WEEK IF YOU WEREN’T WILLING TO HIRE ME.’
Yeah, all in caps, just like that, because you’re an amateur. You shouldn’t thank people who want to hire you. How many times do I have to remind you that you provide a valuable service, and that, if anything, your clients should be the ones thanking you.
Think about it: if somebody cooks you dinner, do you expect them to thank you for the privilege? If somebody lets you out at a junction, should they thank you? Or if you hire a landscaper to makeover your garden, should they thank you? No matter how much they love gardening, the answer is always a big fat no.
You must always remember that people are hiring you for a reason: because they want YOUR help.
And you must also remember that this is YOUR business: you are in charge of who you work with, the services you provide, and the timeline on which you can complete projects.
And god damn it, you don’t need to compensate for anything with excessive politeness or justifications. Just do what you do, and do it well. You are enough.