Don't Make Things Harder Than They Need To Be
The Daily Stoic for February 16th. “Don’t make things harder than they need to be”.
“If someone asks you how to write your name, would you bark out each letter? And if they get angry, would you then return the anger? Wouldn’t you rather gently spell out each letter for them? So then, remember in life that your duties are the sum of individual acts. Pay attention to each of these as you do your duty . . . just methodically complete your task.”
—MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 6.26
As a freelancer, one of the things that used to upset me most was customers negotiating the price with absurd arguments.
In the interest of transparency, my invoices split a project into section and describe the number of hours for every section. The final cost is the sum of the hours multiplied for my hourly fee. Simple and transparent.
However, that type of invoices are prone to customers willing to play with the numbers to cut down on costs.
Patience is definitely not one of my best qualities. While I usually had no problem describing every concept, I would easily get upset if the customer asked stupid questions like “does that really take you that long?”.
Learning Patience And Understanding
Some time ago, I also started to work with my partner on joint projects. Being a designer + developer couple, and specially since we share this tight connection, we can offer a strong product that’s better than the sum of the parts.
However, my lack of patience with these kind of customers ruined many of our attempts to land a contract.
I have to admit that I was the only one to blame for most of these failed attempts.
While my partner usually exhibited a great deal of patience, I would even get angry with that attitude sometimes, exclaiming: “tell them to f**k off, we don’t need them to question our work or our professionalism!”.
My attitude was frustrating not only our chances of acquiring these customers, but also our work together.
Don’t Make Things Harder Than They Need To Be
However, things changed significantly in the last months. It might be Stoicism, the fact that I am meditating again, or just that I live a happier, simpler life now.
Whatever the reason, with our last customer, I was able to detect this bad attitude. I knew I was about to start making things harder than they needed to be. Instead, I took a deep breath, accepted the compromise, and let him deal with the customer.
The result? A happy customer, a lesson learned, and a more patient and positive attitude for future clients.
Today’s Daily Stoic discusses how sometimes, due to animosities or hard feelings, we let our negativity get in the way of a business opportunity.
In this article, I describe how my lack of patiente has actually ruined a lot of opportunities that otherwise would have brought me customers as a freelancer.
Since I started to collaborate with my partner, and thanks to Stoicism and meditation, I have learned to stay calm, have more patience and understand the motivations behind these difficult customers better.