The Sixth Grade Business Break Up

by Gig Girl on October 20, 2010

So, the Gig Girl has recently had opportunity to follow her own advice (don’t you just hate it when that happens?) As I mentioned in my Feast or Famine post, I’ve had a busy little stretch lately managing three individual clients.  Overall, I’ve had great and positive experiences with all of them.  However, one of my clients has been a little tougher  to support since the beginning.

For the most part, “Pat” (I respect the privacy of my clients tremendously, so I won’t even divulge if this person is male or female) has been fine – but throughout our business relationship, I found I’d have to consistently give a little professional push back.  Sometimes Pat would request help on  a project we’d never agreed upon and I didn’t have the capabilities in my home office to complete.  Other times, Pat would request higher end assistance I was perfectly qualified for, but my current hourly rate just didn’t match up with level of the task.  Ultimately, I realized Pat essentially embodied that trusty little pearl of wisdom I wrote in WAHM-dom Part I (To quote my ridiculously practical and logical self):

Know your worth: Speaking of hourly rates, it’s absolutely fine to have different rates for different services…even with the same client.  However, set a non-negotiable bottom rate for yourself and stick to it, even if it means passing on potential “opportunities.”  Don’t sell yourself short. In the long run you probably don’t want to do business with someone who is severely underpaying you for your efforts.

Sigh.  So while the above advice is based on perfectly logical and sound principles, implementing the premise into practice has proven a bit of a struggle for me.  In an ironic and idiosyncratic personality twist, Gig Girl, while feisty, opinionated and quite the handful with those closest to her, is a bit of a chicken when it comes to awkward and uncomfortable conversations with strangers.  My cringe factor has a hair trigger and, once activated, can instantly induce painful, stammering episodes punctuated with cold sweats and random itchy hives.  Seriously.

Thus, delineating these business boundaries isn’t exactly a forte of mine.  But, as I’m a big girl business owner (or so the Hubs keeps telling me), I did what I needed to do to establish the necessary parameters regarding my function.  Overall, Pat handled these exchanges well and always paid promptly, so we’d have our awkward moments and move forward.  I had fulfilled our initial contractual agreement and was helping out ad hoc at this point.  So each Monday I’d send an email checking in on my action items for the upcoming week and we’d go from there.

However, about a month ago, Pat asked me to help out with a particular project that I just really wasn’t comfortable with.  Nothing crazy or unsavory, just not something I wanted to associate my name or Ovel’s reputation with.  Perhaps it was the Gig Grizzly rearing its ugly third trimester head, but I was kind of done with my “carefrontational” push back sessions at this point.  I politely explained that I wasn’t comfortable with the assignment and would be taking a pass this round…and then when Monday came, I pulled a total sixth grade move and didn’t email to check in, all while desperately holding my breath that Pat didn’t reach out to me either.

Pat didn’t contact me.

In my defense, had Pat reached out, I was very prepared to have an adult and profession conversation (aka email exchange).   But, that didn’t happen.  So I think we’ve officially exacted the business version of the passive-aggressive middle school breakup where no words are ever exchanged, but the relationship is undeniably over (Please no judgment –  and ladies, don’t even pretend you don’t know what that is…by my calculations, all of us are still technically dating some random jr. high boy simply because we just avoided them until they went away :) ).

Not my finest big girl business owner moment, but I’m taking away some hard learned lessons in setting boundaries, understanding the value of my time and services and welcoming the slight reprieve in my schedule before Baby Boy makes his arrival in just over four weeks.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill October 21, 2010 at 10:32 pm

You gave great advice, good for you for sticking to it! Sometimes passive-aggressive (as exampled here) is better in business. Networking works for both good and bad. . . you never know who someone knows. “They didn’t get back to me.” is always better than, “We had a falling out.”

Gig Girl October 22, 2010 at 7:44 am

Thanks Jill! Your comment made me feel a whole lot better about how I handled (aka avoided) the whole situation!)

Jill October 26, 2010 at 11:25 pm

You’re welcome! :)

Mommie Daze October 27, 2010 at 9:37 pm

I love email. I’d rather exchange emails than phone calls a lot of the time. Had I been Pat, I would have appreciated that you emailed me.

I do some freelance work, and I had a customer that drove me nuts! I finally finished the project, and was so glad to be rid of them. Then they asked me to do more work for them. I should have said no. Instead I let them drive me nuts for another month.

bluecottonmemory October 27, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I have decided that I will never become too old to have to deal with boundary adjustments, whether professionally or personally. However, I think you handled it perfectly. On the sixth grade note, though – my sixth grader was the messenger for his friends sixth grade break up. We had some boundary discussions then. However, I was incredulous and amused at the same time!

Gig Girl October 28, 2010 at 7:33 am

It’s so hard to say no sometimes isn’t it??? Especially turning down money that you can earn in the comfort of your own home! It was a good lesson learned…let’s hope I don’t have to have a refresher on this one! :)

Thanks for checking in!

Gig Girl October 28, 2010 at 7:35 am

LOL – I can’t tell if that makes my passive aggressive avoidance more or less advance than your sixth graders. At least they proactively handled the situation :)

Boundaries are tough!! No matter how old we are! Thanks for checking in!

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