So who has the upper hand?
Never ask me for a relationship advice.
I mean, I'm happily married to a girl I love, but I don't think I figured it out. I feel I have no clue how this whole "love" thingy works.
Well... maybe there's one thing I DO know about relationships. It's more about what NOT to do.
And it has to do with the "Who has the upper hand?" concept. You might have realized it by now - a healthy relationship has a good balance. You neither want to have the upper hand at all times, nor that the other side will. Giving them the feeling that they control you; that you admire them; that you would do ANYTHING they ask you to - well, this is a HUGE turn off.
Most people don't want to date a puppy. (Unless you're one of the rare people like the Marquis de Sade. Then you can forget about this blog post. Don't read further on.)
We want someone on the same level like us. Otherwise it doesn't last for long. One side is frustrated and the other side feels lack of passion.
Same thing with your client or boss
Even though we know it's a bad idea, this is exactly what happens to many freelancers with new clients or to new hires with their new bosses.
As a co-founder at The nuSchool, I'm in touch with thousands of creative freelancers from all around the world. I see the same pattern again and again. Freelancers that have an unbalanced relationship with their clients. They want to make the client happy. And they look up to them - they choose to give the client a upper hand.
Why? because they are the ones who pay.
We have this stupid ancient concept in our mind, that the one who pays the money is the king. And we need to work for the king. And if the king doesn't like us he'll kick us out of him kingdom.
You can see it when you hear freelancers speak about money. They are afraid to charge as much as they should. And you can see it in the way they are writing emails or project proposals, trying to be so fluffy and sweet so no one will get angry at them.
This behaviour leads to an unbalanced relationship. If you believe the other side has 100% control on you - well then they lose respect for your professional advice and lose passion for working with you.
I'm not saying you should be nasty or you shouldn't care about your client and their project. But I'm saying you should not give them the upper hand.
Let me offer a different approach -
Let's see our clients as something that is equal to us. Because apparently, clients needs you as much as you need them. I'll give you an example from my own small world.
Every now and then I get a client who wants me to create a website for her. Not only should I develop it, but also design it and write the copy (either by myself or with the help of other creative freelancers).
Did you ever think why this client comes to me on the first place? Why is she willing to spend money on this project?
It's not like she's bored, right? Or that she wants to subsidize my rent. It's something else.
She NEEDS a website because she has a bigger goal - she NEEDS to have more clients for her business. If she's an author, she wants to attract more readers to her blog so they'll buy her book. And if she has a brick and mortar store then maybe she wants to build an online one. And she wants people to shop through this website.
Which means, that my clients need me to build the best thing I can. They NEED me to help them grow their business. They NEED me to do my best work. To use my creativity to think about great ideas for them, about original ways to design the website and to think about genius copy for them.
It's true for me as a freelancer, and it's true for you no matter how you earn money to pay your rent. Whether you're a freelancer or work for a company - someone needs you to do your job, so you can help them grow their business. It's that simple.
So my client (or your boss) pay my rent because she NEEDS me to help her. Your client/boss NEEDS you as much as you need them. (and that of course only right if you're doing a good job not being a lazy bastard.)
Don't call me on a Saturday morning
Until a few years back I didn't get it. I acted as if my clients are the rulers of my world. So when they emailed me at 2 a.m., I would answer back as soon as I woke up. Even if that was 6AM. Because I wanted to make sure they are happy.
And if they called me on a Saturday morning, I would pick up the phone and be nice even if I knew this is NOT AN EMERGENCY SO WHY CALLING ON A SATURDAY MORNING?!!
And when we spoke about how much I should charge I was afraid to charge a lot. Because I was afraid they'll dump me as if they are the prettiest and smartest girl in town. And I'm just a homeless asking for money or attention.
And then it hit me. It started after I learned business myself, trying to run my own company. Hiring other freelancers. Hiring people to work for me. Understanding how much I need them and how afraid I am that they'll leave me before the project is done.
Understanding how business works and why clients needs the work I do for them, made me realize that they need me me as much as I need them. It totally changed the way I communicate with them, and the way I speak about money. They are my equal partners in a business relationship.
And I can dump them just like they can dump me.
Your clients and your bosses should not be the rulers of your world. If you're doing your job, they pay you money because you're helping their business to grow and make MORE money. So don't act as if you're a puppy. It's a turn off, and it'll make you miserable and frustrated.
Look into the mirror to remind this to yourself. Every day.