I woke up at 2:37 last night and couldn’t go back to sleep while this thought kept me awake:
In business, it’s really hard to strike the balance between deeply caring about someone and constantly giving away your time for free.
A bit of context, I was mad enough to leave a comfortable gig to start a new business during our current pandemic - my pandemic pup. Despite me being able to cover all of my costs in the first 3 months, there is this nagging feeling...
You then start bringing these insecurities into the relationships you have with the people around you. You really want to help, but also question how much of your time you are giving away for free. Nervous about making ‘enough money’ to keep the lights on.
And that’s exactly where the problem lies. You begin to steer the relationship into making it about you and not the other person. I hate being in that position. It makes me feel like a horrible human being, because it gives off the impression I don’t care. But I do!
A lot of these thoughts have been triggered by reading a book called: Humble Consulting
The author Edgar Shein talks about 3 levels of human relationships...
Acknowledgment, civility, transactional and professional role relations
Examples: Strangers on the street, seatmates on trains and planes, service people whose help we need, professional helpers such as doctors and lawyers
Comment: We do not know one another as individuals but treat one another as fellow humans whom we trust to a certain degree not to harm us and with whom we have polite levels of openness in conversation. Professional helpers such as doctors and lawyers fall into this category because their role definition requires them to maintain a “professional distance.”
Recognition as a unique person
Examples: People whom we know as individuals, co-workers, clients, bosses or subordinates whom we have gotten to know personally but not intimately through common work or educational experiences, casual friendships
Comment: This kind of relationship implies a deeper level of trust and openness in terms of (1) making and honoring commitments and promises to each other, (2) agreeing not to undermine each other or harm what we are endeavoring to do, and (3) agreeing not to lie to each other or withhold information relevant to our task.
Close friendships, love, and intimacy
Examples: Relationships with strong positive emotions
Comment: Intimacy implies more openness and not only no harm but active support whenever needed. This kind of relationship is usually viewed as undesirable in work or in helping situations.
Personally I’ve always tried to move all of my business relationships to level two or three (as long as I am not invading someone's privacy). But lately that’s slipped and it’s time to change that!
Right, time to sign off and get a little sleep. Hope this read inspired you in some way to think about your current relationships with your clients and team members. Thank you for taking the time to reflect with me.