Adulting, Ideas and Musings

Can’t You Just Help Me?

Woman climbing stairs with a box with a guy in it on her back

“I just need a website. An easy one! You’re my friend! Why can’t you just help me?”

Okay, so I’m still taking that NLP class, it’s still annoying me, and I just found another piece of evidence that explains some of the reasons why friends often demand actual work from each other.

In the video, he said that you can either learn all the things you need to learn to do it yourself, or tap the friends you have who already know how to do it. You can have someone working on your website, someone designing your logo, and someone writing or editing your copy. All at the same time! Things get done much faster for you! It’s so much more effective!

And that sound all well and good and I’ve had people approach me to either manager their websites or do some development project or write something for them. Things that are either a lot of work, or something that I charge for as a business. And I say no and end up with an angry friend.

You see, friends tend to think other friends should do everything for them for free.

My question to you is: Is such a demand even reasonable? Let’s think about this…

Helping Friends

We all help our friends sometimes. There are many things that come up that we actually need people to help us with.

  • We’re moving and need people to help
  • We’ve had surgery and need someone to take us home and babysit us for the night
  • We need a shoulder to cry on
  • We need to paint a room and need help
  • Many others

And we don’t think much about helping people in these ways. It can be fun! Sometimes so fun it’s counterproductive.

 I once helped a friend paint her kitchen. The problem was that the margaritas were flowing BEFORE we started. I think you can imagine what happened that day…

Most Help from Friends is not Professional

Most of the help we give our friends is not professional. As long as someone who knows what’s going on tells us what to do, it’s fairly easy.

It also tends to have a limit on time. I’m staying with you TONIGHT. Once you’re moved, you’re DONE.

But what about help from friends who are professionals in their field?

Would you expect the following?

  • Your surgeon friend to operate on your shattered wrist for free?
  • Your restaurant owner to let you eat all meals at their restaurant for free?
  • Your cop friend to make your parking tickets go away?

Probably not!

Why would you expect:

  • Your friend who has a moving service to move you for free?
  • Your friend who builds websites to build one for you for free?
  • Your copy editor friend to copy edit for you for free?
  • Your therapist friend to therapize you for free?

No! It’s taking advantage of them and their business.

That said, I have a therapist friend who I’d love to have therapize me. I’m willing to pay! I actually trust her! But no, the law says she’s not allowed to therapize me. I have to go to someone I don’t know and don’t already trust. I think it’s a lot of hooey.

It’s Their Business!

Your expert friends are either running or are working as a part of a business. They do it in order to make money and achieve their own goals, just like you’re doing when you ask them to do it for free.

Your goal is to become successful and build your own business. You will then charge others for your services. It’s the way it works. Your friends might, and I say might, warrant “the special deal”, but if your business is being hurt by it, is it reasonable for you to offer that deal?

Probably not!

It’s not fair to expect your expert friends to give you something for free so that you can make more money later. It’s not the way to do business and it’s not the way to keep and respect your friends.

It’s a part of YOUR business to determine what resources you need and then PAY for them, either in dollars or in a trade. Keep track of it and write it off!

Are You My Friend?

Here are a couple of things that have happened to me:

  • I’ve had someone try to get me to do website work for free. When I refused, she told me that it was easy! That I should do it because she’s my friend. Not only did she insult my abilities by telling me it was easy, but she also tried to manipulate me. She’s not a friend.
  • When I was managing a restaurant, a friend/employee tried to get away with some shady stuff. She told me that if I was her friend, I’d let her get away with it. I told her that if she was my friend, she wouldn’t put me in that position. She was not a friend.

If someone is my friend, they wouldn’t put me in that position. They wouldn’t try to take advantage of me. They would have respect for me and accept it if I can’t help them.

This NLP course didn’t cover anything about doing these far-reaching activities for each other, or how to negotiate the limits of and the compensation for those activities. He implied that it was for free. It’s this kind of information that leads people to believe they are entitled to it. Should we be obligated to give these types of activities away for free?

Probably not!

So, yeah, I help paint, and move, and I’ll go to the store, or meet up for tea to have a chat. But I also have my boundaries. And so does everyone else…

I considered putting a website together for a friend who doesn’t realize she desperately needs one. But when I thought about the sheer amount of work it would take, and what I would have to sacrifice to get it done, I realized that although it would be a great gift, it’s also too big. And it’s her business to run. When she’s ready for a website, she’ll find a designer. And it will be what she wants. I won’t end up feeling bad about trying.

Respect your friend, keep your friend.