We've all had 'em . . .
The bully . . . the "I can't decide" . . . the low-baller. To help others deal with them (short of strangulation), I am putting together a short ebook with real-life case studies and advice from experts.
If you have a story (or stories) to share, please get in touch! If it’s used in the ebook (anonymously, of course), you can have your photo, short bio, and link to your website in the Contributors section and/or a $40 VISA card.
If you know of any life coaches, HR experts, or psychologists who might want to provide advice, please let me know. They will get the same incentive.
I’m looking for stories of clients who:
- Don’t know what they want, but what you give them isn’t it (and they can’t articulate why).
- Profoundly underestimate the amount of time a project will take, or wait until the last minute to let you know about a rush job.
- Don’t respect your time and think you will drop everything to talk with them late at night, early in the morning, on weekends, etc.
- Expect you to do more than you were hired to do, at no extra cost.
- Send you a completely new version after you have started working on the original version.
- Want you to do the job for free or for very low pay.
- Don’t communicate and/or ignore your phone calls and emails.
- Act like they are expert who know more than you about editing.
- Send revision after revision so the job takes forever.
- Give excuses for why they haven’t paid yet (“the check is in the mail”).
- Argue, complain, bully, or are just plain obnoxious.
Please use active voice, first person, and a tone and style similar to the following. Submissions will be edited for standardization in these areas.
Introduction. About 100 words setting the stage: Who the client is, what kind of job it is, etc. If you saw warning signs early on, say what they were.
The caller said she wanted me to edit a 200-page doctoral dissertation--and several more projects would follow.
I did a happy dance around the living room. This was my first inquiry for my brand-new freelance business, and her research was in my field. I hadn't even finished my website or ordered business cards.
She didn't hesitate when I gave her my price. This is great, I thought! How hard could it be to make a living doing what I loved?
The Problem. About 200 words describing how things went wrong.
During my first review of the manuscript, I commented on her misuse of a data analysis technique that I am very familiar with. I noted it again during the second review, when I saw that she had addressed my other comments, but not this one. I offered to meet with her at no extra charge to make sure she understood what I meant, since this was much more serious than a mistake in formatting or grammar—it was fundamental to her profession.
Instead of calling or texting me to discuss it, she sent my comment along with a blistering email to the chair of her doctoral committee, badmouthing everything about my judgment, knowledge, and professionalism, except whether or not what I was saying was correct. The committee chair copied me on her reply (which is how I found out about it), telling her to do as I had advised.
I was mortified! I was just starting out and already my reputation was threatened. But then I got angry. Not only was the client—who was about to be sent out into the world as an expert with this shiny, new degree—unwilling to do the work to avoid committing academic fraud, she decided that bullying was the best way to come out on top.
The Resolution. About 150 words on how you addressed the problem, whether it ended satisfactorily for you or not.
I thanked her committee chair for letting me know, but never mentioned it to the client and didn’t pursue the issue any further. I did the right thing by flagging the problem, but had no authority to force her to make it right. The truth was, it never should have made it as far as the editing stage. Her committee members should have caught it when they read her first draft and asked her to rework that whole section. I realized that if she had been in a different field, I probably would not have recognized the error.
A few weeks later, I got a text: “I’m officially a Dr. now!! Woo hoo!! Couldn’t have done it without you! And I have reworked it into a journal article. Check your email!”
I congratulated her and told her I would not be able to help with the article. I wished her the best of luck. I wished her new editor luck, as well. He or she was going to need it.
(About 150 words of advice from an HR expert, psychologist, or life coach will be at the end.)