Seven years of being self-employed is enough time to have the same client frustrations time and time again. You learn from the common ones in the early days to mostly avoid them, but no one is completely immune.
Even the kindest and most patient of my self-employed friends have confessed that in their head sometimes they are having a totally different conversation to the one they’re actually having with a customer.
If you’ve ever shouted at your computer or silently rolled your eyes whilst on the phone to a client, then it’s very possible you’ve played out the following conversations in your head:
You Say: “It’s not quite right”
I Say: “What exactly isn’t working for you?”
What I’m actually thinking: “I’m not a mind reader”
You asked me to do something but you didn’t answer my follow up questions or give me a detailed brief and you just expect me to knock it out of the park first time? You had so much faith in me, and despite my insistence, you fill out a brief (so we could avoid situations like this) now you’re unhappy that the work isn’t perfect or finished yet.
I know I’m good at what I do but I’m no mind reader. As much as you’re annoyed that it’s not what you had in your head, I’m the one having to do revisions and guess what is actually floating in front of your mind’s eye.
Maybe someone should start briefing workshops we can send our clients on… Or maybe I should just say no to work that isn’t clearly briefed. But then I really could do with the money…
You say: “I’m not actually sure about that bit, can you just…”
I say: “I’ll change it, but this revision is out of scope”
What I’m actually thinking: “There’s only so many revisions I’m prepared to do”
I did let you know in the quote how many revisions you would get for this particular piece of work. Did you just ignore that part? Or conveniently forget…?
You say: Nothing. But your invoice hasn’t been paid.
I say: “Your invoice is overdue. Please can you pay at your earliest convenience?”
What I’m actually thinking: “It’d really help my cash flow if you paid your invoice on time”
I don’t want to admit that I was really counting on that invoice being paid. I want to seem like I have plenty of work on right now and don’t need your money as much as I actually do. But, I actually do need that money, like today, please. Can you just sort it out?
You say: “You’re doing a great job”
I say: “Thank you!”
What I’m actually thinking: “I really hope I don’t let you down”
I know I might look like I’ve got my s**t together but I regularly doubt my abilities and I spent a good 30 minutes telling myself I can do the work you’ve asked me to do before starting it.
I dare not tell you that it wouldn’t surprise me if you emailed me saying you were wrong, I’m actually no good at my job and you’re firing me and going with my competitor down the road.
Imposter syndrome is a daily battle.
You say: “I really need this by Monday morning”
I say: “I’ll see what I can do, it might have to be Tuesday”
What I’m actually thinking: “I have a life too”
Have you forgotten I’m a human being, with a family and friends and plans? Because it seems like that urgent request you just sent me that absolutely has to be done by the end of the weekend has given you temporary amnesia.