“That’s not nice.”
Michelle* and I had an agreement. Her organisation were paying for her to have coaching with me. At the end of our six sessions together, I’d be invoicing them for £1,000. We’d already had a free 45-minute consultation, she’d already received preparatory emails, she’d already received a gift copy of my book.
But here we were, on the phone, and for the first 15 minutes of our coaching session she’d been talking through whether she actually wanted coaching. She felt she wanted to take a break from the treadmill of continual professional development. She talked about how exhausted she was, with small children and earning little money.
I got all this – completely – and yet I was finding it hard to listen fully. Because I didn’t know where we stood, my empathy was distracted. Were we coaching, or not?
In true coaching style, I interrupted, with hand on heart, and articulated what was going on.
“Michelle, it feels like we’re in a taxi. You’ve got in and you’re telling me you’re not sure where you want to go, and whether you even want to be in this taxi. I’m the taxi driver, and we’ve been sitting here for 15 minutes and I don’t know if I’m meant to be starting the meter. So, either we’re doing this and I’ll coach you about your career or your exhaustion or your financial situation. Otherwise, it sounds like we need to stop.”
And that’s when she said it, very quietly.
“That’s not nice.”
I inhaled and exhaled. I knew this story. “Say more…”
“Well,” she continued. “You only care if I pay you. That’s what I hate about this whole profession. That we pay coaches so that they’ll listen to us and like us.”
It was at this point that something snapped.
The dirtiest belief
I’ve been in this profession for nearly a decade. My clients are predominantly in similar caring professions. And this belief – that we’re paid to care, and that we should be available, like a public service, even when we’re not being paid – is one that smacks us in the face, time and again. It cripples businesses and it has to be addressed.
I asked Michelle this – and I ask you too.
With over 2,500 beautiful souls on my email list, how could I possibly give each of those individuals the same level of focused care and attention that I give my partner, my mum, my sister or my best friend?
How would I have the resources to write a blog every week, show up on social media with useful insights, and lead courses, workshops and webinars if people didn’t pay when they wanted my eyes specifically on them?
Let’s clean this up once and for all
It’s not that people pay you to care. They pay so you have the capacity to give them your full focus. They pay so you can turn your care completely in their direction.
It’s not that people pay you to like them. It’s that when they pay you, they get your full undivided attention… and that’s when you fall in love with them.
You run a business? You’re like a jukebox
Do you consider a juke-box ungenerous because it won’t play music until you slip it a coin?
Do you consider a shop ungenerous because it closes at 5pm?
Do you consider a taxi driver ungenerous because he doesn’t want to have a 15-minute conversation with you about where you might want to go?
Is a human being, who chooses a helping/healing profession because they care, ungenerous because they won’t devote their professional attention to someone until they’re paid to do so?
I’d love to know what you think. Join the discussion; leave a comment below.
Fed up of the ickiness around charging for what you do?
If you’re giving your work away for free, if you feel guilty for charging when your work helps others, or if you simply don’t know who would pay you, then click here to get front of queue for the Turn Your Passion To Profit course. In the company of inspirational like-minded others, you’ll discover how to set healthy prices and earn a healthy income doing the work you love.
P.S. PASS IT ON
Loved this post? Then use the icons below to tweet it, like it on Facebook and send it to specific friends via email.
And leave your email at the top or bottom of this page to be first to hear about more articles like this.
* Not her real name.
© Corrina Gordon-Barnes 2013
It’s not that people pay you to care. They pay so you have the capacity to give them your full focus. – @CorrinaGB