As a freelance consultant, I don’t have any expectation that my clients will take time out of their day to express their appreciation for my work. I am not their employee, they don’t have to worry about my morale and how it correlates to productivity. It is perfectly reasonable for them to expect that the money they pay me is compensation enough.
But here’s the thing – I just can’t help but work harder for clients that show enthusiasm for the output. It’s not that I slack on any of my projects – far from it – but when it comes to the extra mile, I just naturally want to try harder for the people who appreciate it the most.
I have a client who is the master of the compliment sandwich – or sandwiching an opportunity area between two compliments.
“Ellen, these reports are looking great!” he told me. “The insights are so clear, my internal clients are going to love them. I think we can go deeper in this particular area – please make more reference to the other documents I provided. But other than that, I love the conclusions, I love the way you set them up, you’ve exceeded my expectations.”
Never has the request to do more work felt so good! I came out of that meeting on a high, and you better believe that I mined those extra documents for as much insight as I could possibly wring out of them.
On another project that was extremely rough going from the beginning, I found myself losing momentum. As we closed off a conversation, my client said “I want to thank you for the resolve you’re showing to continue with this. And for providing us with guidance on the best way to approach it.” It probably seemed like a small thing to him, but being appreciated in a moment when I was doubting my own capabilities meant the world to me, and provided me with the motivation I needed to muscle through to the end.
Apparently, there is an International Clients’ Day, celebrated each year on March 19th. As that day approaches, I want to acknowledge the people who allow me to live this lifestyle, especially those whose appreciation and consideration give me the desire to do my level best for them, each and every time.