Saturday, April 27, 2024

it's getting harder for me to be patient with (some of) you

I've always tried to manage my business in ways that reflect my values - and as some may know, this includes a practice of 'grace'. This is manifest through my automatically offering to reschedule a call/meeting/session with a client or collaborator if it transpires that they fail to 'turn up', without additional charge* (even though it represents lost time and earnings for me - I'm not salaried, which means I have to make every hour I spend count, in helping to generate enough income to pay the rent, etc).

This grace is based on my idea that we're all human beings - sometimes, we simply 'forget', or the universe has other plans for us at that time, despite our best intentions to the contrary (a child is sick, we're suddenly faced with an employee in crisis, etc). And I know that if it were me in such a position, I'd hope that there'd be some similar understanding and compassion - so I try and act in this way in turn**.

Over the last few years, I've started to track just how much my practice of grace represents/costs me, as part of my annual impact reports.

Since I started to record it 5 years ago, its averaged nearly £7,000 a year! And although it seemed to 'peak' in 2021/2 (which I attributed to the 'fall out' from the pandemic), and has been steadily slowly dropping each year since then (last years' figure was £6,675) - my experiences at the start of this year are not encouraging... 

In the first month of this new financial year alone, I've already 'lost' nearly £900 - which may not sound like much to some, but if this is a pattern which continues for the rest of the year (and I've generally seen a need to exercise my grace consistently over the year, since I started to record it), then you can hopefully see how it will quickly accumulate to exceed what the average has been for the last 5 years. 

I know I'm not the only freelancer / self-employed who this happens to - but bear in mind that I'm also a registered unpaid carer, which, according to research published by JRF last year, means I'm already foregoing at least £10,000 each year in earnings because of this circumstance.

So hopefully you can understand and appreciate how, if I seem a little cool with you in reconvening after you've needed to rebook time with me, it's not because I don't like you - it's because I find the behaviours and/or circumstances that have led to it not only showing a potential lack of respect for my time (and therefore me), but are also causing me tangible pain.

And yes, I could introduce a policy of 'pay or play' (i.e. - if you don't turn up, I still charge you), but that would feel like it would be cutting against my values of trying to encourage others by recognising that sometimes despite our best efforts, we simply can't honour an arrangement...  But it is something that I'm looking to have to start to factor into working agreements where this happens in the course of my working with a client from now on.

*for clarification, 'without notice' includes messaging me less than 24 hours before the arranged time - as this means I'm similarly unable to find other meaningful client work or activity: representing lost earnings for me.

**if you're wondering - yes, I also track the extent to which I may have also 'forgotten' or not been able to offer the other person more than 24 hours notice myself.

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