How to say “NO” to your friends.

Many designers begin their careers by helping friends with their homes or offices for free. This helps build confidence and gives you something to photograph for your portfolio.

The problem with this is that it can carry over into a habit of not charging clients enough and having friends that expect a lifetime of free design service.

Here is what happens; every time you see this friend, she has another design question or problem for you to solve. And these requests can come at the most awkward times. For example, looking at and giving advise about a bathroom when you’re trying to enjoy a party can be annoying, at best.

So, what do you do and say to these friends or acquaintances that step over the line? This is not a difficult problem to solve; here are 3 easy tips to get your friends to respect your boundaries.

Tip #1 You need to realize that giving away your valuable time and advise may seem like you are being helpful, but by doing so you’re diminishing your self-worth.When you develop a habit of giving away your time and expertise, it becomes hard o charge the appropriate amount when the opportunity arises. Another problem is that free advice is often not valued nearly as much as “paid for” advice.

Tip #2 You must make a solid decision to stop this self-diminishing behavior. Write down on paper what your boundaries are around working for friends and acquaintances. Be totally clear about what you are willing to do and not do for friends.

If you want to give a gift, define what you’re giving in your Letter of Agreement, “because of our friendship I want to gift you the first 3 hours of this project.” This clear statement acknowledges the relationship and that your gift doesn’t keep on giving forever.

Tip #3 Write a script ahead of time and practice what you’ll say when the next time a friend asks for help. This could be as simple as, “Call me at my office on Monday and we will set up an appointment to discuss our project.” It’ll be easy to treat her more like a client and tell her how you charge for design services when she calls you in your business.

Practice your script out loud until your body feels totally comfortable with it and you will be ready the next a friend or acquaintance asks or expects free advice.

Terri_LOW_RESTerri Taylor breaks down the walls of secrecy by sharing her 30 years of professional interior design and remodeling experience to help interior designers work smarter, not harder, and get paid what they’re really worth.

Terri received her NCIDQ certification in 1993, and is a professional member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and Interior Design Society (IDS). She also received the 2000 ASID Interior Design Award of Excellence and holds an Arizona Contractor’s License.

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