It is time to say no to the “Inside Advantage”

When beginning a new project, whether it be a new volunteer opportunity or new business venture, it is wonderful to have family and friends who are as excited as we are. When they jump on board with us, we feel their love and support. We feel their encouragement and sincere desire for us to succeed. This truly is an incredible gift, and something to be grateful for. But there can also be a shadow side to this, that if we aren’t careful can cause some really big issues for our new adventure and relationships.

I am talking about the “inside advantage,” that comes in the form of special treatment. They may ask for preferential support, before launch access, or reduced pricing. All of these are tough to deal with, but none are as physically draining as the “inside advantage” of after hours support.

It generally starts off small.

A quick call on a Saturday morning while your hanging out with the kids. A text right before bed time during the week. But before you know it an expectation has been set that you are “always available.” And let’s face it, nobody needs to be always available.

They may start to expect immediate answers at 9:30 a night, or feel slighted when you can’t take a few minutes away from your family time to take their call. They may even hijack personal lunch dates, and outings to get support. Pretty soon you feel as if their only interest in you is what you can do for them, and you start feeling the strain this puts on your otherwise loving relationship. 

I have been there and I know that it’s not always easy to draw clear boundary lines with someone you love. But it is often necessary. Here are a few ways my own family and friends have tried to use their inside advantage  …

  • Calling/texting my personal phone
  • Emailing my personal email account
  • Messaging me on my personal social media
  • Giving me less than an hour to respond to calls, texts and messages
  • Stopping me in public (kids sporting events, grocery store, mall, etc.)
  • And yes, hijacking lunch dates to talk about their business needs

If this is something you are struggling with, perhaps my do’s and don’ts can help see you through …

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    Dont' fulfill their requests right away. They can wait. 
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    Don't get mad at them. They love you after all and are trying to support you in their own way.
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    Don't expect them to memorize your business card 
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    Don't respond after business hours after the first few times 
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    Don't get bitchy or sassy if it keeps happening
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    Do schedule a time to help them during business hours 
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    Do thank them for thinking of you and tell them you're happy to help
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    Do offer them a business card so they have the best contact information for business 
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    Do respond during normal business hours, as quickly as you would for any other customer 
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    Do be firm about your business hours and the best way to reach you.

A special note for the non-listeners …

It is possible you may have someone who insists on contacting you at all hours of the day, night or weekend.  If this is happening you may need to engage a little tough love for the good of your sanity and your relationship.

Here is how I have handled the non-listeners

  • Never respond outside of business hours
  • Never make finding their email requests in my personal account a priority
  • Make it clear you will stop taking all of their calls/texts outside of normal business hours
  • Bring an end to your professional relationship and offer viable alternatives when possible

This may seem tough, and even a bit mean, but so is not respecting your time of leisure. By drawing clear boundary lines you are protecting yourself as well as your relationship with someone you love.