Integrity and Excellence

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Some time ago, I encountered a thought-provoking post directed towards freelancers about turning down clients one knows are about to waste their money, even though it might hurt in the short term. (Men with Pens author "James" correctly notes that it is not always easy to know when to take on or refuse a new client.) Here's the conclusion, which is actually much more broadly applicable than just to business relationships:

Don't feel bad about turning a prospect away - you're only inviting him to do some extra homework to create better success!

Here's the truth: Most people - especially the ones who respect your expertise and value your counsel - will appreciate your honesty. They'll be thankful that you told them the truth (and probably wonder why no one else has said anything up to now).

And they'll go back to the drawing board. They'll think things through. Maybe they'll come back to you in the future with a better plan that works. Or maybe they'll stop right there and be grateful they didn't lose their shirt.

Now that's a job well done.
Even when you encounter someone who will simply refuse to hear your advice, you come out ahead. James makes an excellent point regarding doing so as a matter of integrity. (You may well "get away with" swindling a client out of money, in terms of nobody else being the wiser, but you will know what you did.)

Consider further the fact that you are supposedly being hired based on the value of your advice. Being ignored when you make it clear why you think your prospect is making a mistake shows that this simply isn't true. One likely consequence is that the job will be difficult in many, often unpredictable, ways because you have basically started out as an order-taker, as opposed to an expert adviser.

-- CAV

No comments: