Yesterday we jumped in with a little humor talking about ‘Favorite’ Questions that Creatives Get Asked’ and left with the homework of writing down 3-5 statements that you often hear in your business. Before we continue with the 5 steps for responding to these types of questions let’s start with one of the truths that is foundational to every creative entrepreneur:
You Are Worth It
You and your craft are worth being valued and paid a fair rate. Your time, your ideas, the individual spice and flavor that you bring to the world that is different than anyone else, your time spent in being the best that you can be, the money invested in education, programs, equipment – you are worth it.
Let me say that again: YOU ARE WORTH IT.
Now repeat after me: I AM WORTH IT. Go look in the mirror, make eye contact with your honest, powerful, and creative self and tell yourself again: I AM WORTH IT.
Here are the 5 steps that I wish someone had shared with me early on in my career to navigate those slightly awkward pauses after a verbal faux pas is made!
5 Steps for Responding to “Yeah, but what do you DO all day?” Statements
Want to work on the 5 steps along with us? Print out the 5 Steps for Responding to “Yeah, but what do you DO all day?” Statements worksheet! Sometimes it feels like everyone is just trying to get stuff for free or doesn’t value us with these types of statements. Our responsibility is to educate others to the value of our art and what we bring to the table and to understand and believe that we truly are worth it. In my experience other people did not believe it when I said it until I truly believed it myself. Interestingly enough, when I came to believe it, I rarely had to say it. In most cases people honestly just don’t know what really goes in to being a really great creative entrepreneur in your field.
WHO said it?
Was it a potential client? Long term client? Casual friend? Family member? The depth of relationship and the balance between how personal or professional the relationship is can be important in determining the way that you respond to this type of question.
WHAT did the person say?
It’s easy for a simple comment to play to our insecurities (everyone has them!) and our perception of ourselves and our craft. Mentally and emotionally step back for a second and try to evaluate the exact words said without the filter of your personal experiences or perspective that the person is probably completely unaware of.
Determine the WHY.
On the other side every ‘what’ is the invisible but powerfully present ‘why’ behind the statement. Why was the question asked? Was it because they were trying to clarify something? Is it just a matter of educating a potential client about the process? Was it an off handed comment that is better left unanswered? Are they trying to gauge your background or competency before signing a contract? Was it an attempt to connect in an area they aren’t familiar with? Are they wondering what each line item in your contract is actually paying for? Are they trying to position themselves to negotiate a better deal?
The ‘why’ determines the tone and style of the next step – ‘when’ and ‘how’.
WHEN (and IF) you should respond
The ‘when’ is often determined by referring back to the ‘who’. When it’s great aunt Lucy twice removed on your father’s side making a comment at a family reunion it’s probably best to smile, nod, and move on(!), but if it’s a potential client and you know that the answer to the question could make the difference in booking a desired job, the timing and delivery can be very important. Should you respond immediately or it would better to wait until a time that is more effective? Do you need to think over your response? Put yourself in their shoes, how are they likely to feel if you address it immediately or later and with which method?
- Choose HOW you are going to respond. Much of what happens to us in life and business is out of our control. What we control is our response to it. Will you choose to ignore the comment? Respond verbally? A quick email? Phone call? Text or note in the mail? You choose the tone of your response; conversational, casual, a well thought out boundary, a to the point statement, or sometimes a very appropriate full stop on the conversation. I have had to do all of these at various points in my career!
One of the responses that I’ve found most helpful in my professional life has been thinking ahead to what possible questions or comments often arise in a particular situation and weaving the answers in to our discussion before they are brought up. In my experience the result has been instilled confidence in the client that I am a professional and the policy and rates that I’m charging are a business transaction with a logical layout and not just an arbitrary number.
Let’s talk about you…
So now that we’ve had a laugh or two over shared experiences, on a serious note, what are some practical ways that you can apply the 5 steps above to respond to these types of situations in a way that is beneficial, whether it be a smile as you let a comment roll off your back, or an opportunity to educate a client to your value or experience, or a time to practice direct and honest communication and stick to a boundary?
Free printable worksheet and homework:
On the attached sheet write down the top 3 questions that people ask that catch you by surprise in the moment and using the 5 questions above, take some time crafting a response that you will have ready for the next time this conversation repeats itself. Feel free to share in the comments below!