Photo courtesy of Rue Mag.
Today, we're covering the topic of reciprocity....and how to break the cycle of always doing favors! It's a tough one. Multiple conversations this week spawned today's topic and compelled me to write about it.
So what do I mean by favors and stopping the madness? Well, let's pause...I am not advocating that offering the occasional favor is the wrong thing to do. I believe you should perform a favor out of the goodness of your heart and a sincere desire to help someone. That said, there is a population of people who take advantage of kind people...and it's a quick-forming habit. It could be in the work arena or in daily life.
So how do decline with grace? How do you break the habit? Here are five scenarios to help you regain your sanity and get your time back!
- Maybe you've been performing work favors for your first client gratis for quite some time. It's called pro bono work. This is beneficial for a short stint of time (think six months); however, time is money, people! You can't keep working for free, or how else are those bills going to get paid? Stop the madness! Next time the culprit requests free services, be honest: "I would love to collaborate with you on this project. My fees for two hours of my time are as such (x). I'm at a point in my career where my portfolio is diverse enough and the demand for my services is greater. Gosh, a girl's gotta pay her rent, too! I hope you understand."
- Maybe you have a neighbor who's constantly bogged down by work and really needs you to just feed, walk, and snuggle her dog one.more.time. Sure, it's fine once or twice, but this is becoming daily. You walk her dog more than you work out. Stop! People who purchase pets need to own the tasks that go along with them. Again, honesty: "Hey, Baxter is such a doll—I love him. The only issue is that I've committed to a Soul Cycle class four times a week at 5:30. So sorry! By the way, did you see those dog walker fliers in our lobby?"
- Maybe your sister is always in a pickle. Needs you to watch her kids or drive them to class. That's a toughie. It's family...but you've got your own, and they're heavily involved in sports, too! P.S. Sister is a sensitive soul, so you're really sweatin' this conversation. Sisterly honesty as follows: "Wanda, I love that our munchkins are getting so close. Can you imagine them as teenagers? Hey, I just enrolled Heidi in travel soccer. This minivan is on-the-go, and I am feeling spread thin. Do you want me to ask my sitter for some referrals?"
- Maybe your boss is the King of Delegation. They generally are but, gosh, you deserve a happy hour stat! What to do? You really want that raise in March! Corporate honesty means: "Dear CEO...I am so excited to dig into this project. Thank you for choosing me! I have an obligation this evening that I am unable to reschedule; however, I'd love to take the research home and start reading up on it tonight in preparation for the kick-off meeting. Do you have any files you can share at the moment?"
- Maybe your freshly minted BFF is going through a hard time. You've been friends just long enough but not that long. You love her and you're in it for the long haul but, gosh, how many times can you pick up the tab after that therapy lunch? If you adore her and want to prevent resentment, keep it real: "Abby, I know you're going to get over Mr. X and come out on top. There is a guy that would fly to the moon and back for you...you just haven't bumped into him yet. Chin up buttercup. Let's meet next week at my house. Have you been to that new coffee shop? Dying to try it. Now we both have something to look forward to!" (And you'll have a few more dollar bills in your pocket.)
Not a science, but it becomes easier with practice. I promise. Just realize, you deserve personal time, compensation for your work, and, above all else, the appreciation of your peers for standing your ground in an empathetic manner.
Oak St. Social is a boutique social media marketing firm dedicated to elevating unique brands into household names. From brand consulting to copywriting to social media management and campaign development, we are devoted to connecting and creating a community for both big and small brands. We've never met a hashtag we didn't like, either! Oak St. Social combines a deep and well-versed understanding of what appeals to consumers, with an appreciation for how social media drives brand loyalty and consumer spending.