I learned through adverse situations to communicate with tact, persuasively, intelligent. I don’t just say what I need to say I think about how it will be revived. And what will the reaction be. For me (especially written) communication is like playing chess. It has always been. In my professional career I honed the skill.
But I’m taken aback when more mature or experienced people are unskilled communicators.
Appeal to the heart and the mind. Be gracious. Humble. Yet stay in your lane. Be clear. Concise. Verbalize what you want to obtain from a difficult conversation you must have. Then speak accordingly.
Conrad has this client who sends work his way regularly. Small writing projects. I deal with the invoicing and most they pay the invoices in groups. With. Slight delay. There is a fee for every transfer so I don’t mind the wait as long as it’s purposeful. Clumping more invoices onto one payment.
Now, he is being given increasingly more work but we haven’t been paid since April. Half a year. It’s not much every invoice but it’s not free work either.
He was so upset he wanted to write to the person who asked for his services to pay him before asking for future help from him. But this is a new guy, who was not part of the work delivered thus far.
We had a back and forth conversation. Which in itself was draining for me. Conrad was adamant that he needs to speak up no matter whom he offends because he feels offended and his work is not valued. Literally. I am not as invested emotionally so I tried to walk him through my thought process on how to tackle this issue. I used to not be so bold in changing others’ mind. I thought I communicate only on my behalf and everyone can do as they please and deal with the consequences.
I had to tell him this story I read about Steve job and his mentor who had an incredible EQ as a communicator.
Conrad listened. And then he decided to write his longtime friend who connected him with this company and who is well respected. He rephrased his stance a bit without betraying himself. And thus not burning bridges but making stronger connections.
The question to ponder is: would you continue to do good work of your employer hasn’t paid you for six months? You know they will pay you eventually, because we live in a civilized country and trust is imperative to function. Also though he had not just one employee go bankrupt and he wasn’t paid for some work.
Also, in his line of work, designers are often slighted because their work is not valued.
A fancy salon in San Francisco decided to not pay their web designer. And after repeated attempts to reach an agreement they said they won’t pay him. So he took the website down and instead wrote on the main page that the said establishment did not pay their designer. It was embarrassing. Now their work ethic and treatment of partners was plastered on the internet. Did they not think it through? It made the world-news for designers.
The foreman who oversaw the interior finishes In our house was tempted to do the same for his employees.
I paid him on time. Always. But he withheld pay for his subcontractors. I was called to court as a witness by the guy who cleaned after the construction because I was the only one at home when he cleaned. And this foreman hadn’t paid him for multiple weekends of hard work. He told him to get lost because he can’t prove that he had done the work. I wouldn’t have gotten in the middle but the plumer also called me to ask if I know other means of contacting the Foreman because he hasn’t paid him and he doesn’t answer his calls.
I guess it happens more often that it ever happened to me. Except that one time at my employer who had a mixup with my old records of full time employee account and hours couldn’t be processed and paid. It was a visible glitch. And they were apologetic and owned it when I brought it to their attention. Even if it took the whole two months I worked for them that winter.
Alas, I am not a fan of threats or ultimatums. I speak clearly and I follow through. I think there is a sweet spot of connection persuasion clarity in expectations. But ultimately, I think I have this freedom that comes from accepting everting as a gift and if we lose some god replenishes in other places.