Ruth Slavid talks architecture

Work with people you like – freelance post 4

Posted in Uncategorized by ruthslavid on January 1, 2013

It may sound hopelessly idealistic to say that you should work with people you like, but it certainly makes life easier. So this is my rule number 4:

Work with people you like – or try to like the people you work with.

I’m not being ridiculously Pollyana- ish about this. I suppose you have to start by liking people in general. If you are a real misanthrope then perhaps freelance journalism is not for you. There is certainly one editor I work for who always commissions by email. On the odd occasions I call her (because there is something too complex to deal with by email) she sounds vaguely affronted that she has to speak. And it’s not just me – a friend who has worked for her has had the same experience. Perhaps it’s good she isn’t a freelance.

There are a couple of reasons why getting on with the people who commission you is a good idea. You are likely to be happier. And after all, if the main work of freelancing involves sitting staring at a computer, then your social contact is limited to the people who commission you and the people you interview (plus the all important people you meet as you market yourself – I’ll deal with that later). So you will be much happier if you like them.

If they like you, then they are more likely to give you work – faced with commissioning two people with equal skills/ knowledge, who wouldn’t rather deal with somebody they like? And the better you get on, the more constructive conversations you are likely to have. These conversations are really important to you when you are freelance, as you no longer get the feedback that is available in an office, or the general banter about the issues of the day which can kick off ideas or produce the nub of a feature. The general conversations also allow you to discover who has which contacts, which may be useful at a later time.

If this all sounds very calculated, it isn’t meant to be. Getting on with people, and finding mutual interests, is one of the most enriching things in life. And if you can be helpful to them or they to you (swapping information, leads etc.), then the relationship feels even better.

And after all, getting on with people is easier when you work for yourself. You aren’t stuck in an office with people who can grow to annoy you. You probably don’t have to deal with people at the time of day you most dislike (I will never forget the non-morning person who, when greeted with a cheery ‘how are you’ responded ‘Why are you asking?’). However successful you are, you will not get the volume of calls that come into a busy editorial office, and will avoid most of the really irritating ‘have you received my press release’ calls. Putting up with cold calls for mis-sold insurance and spurious accident claims is a small thing, and I am not suggesting that you like those people.

But we can’t like everybody, can we? No, but I suggest that concentrating on just disliking one or two people (and let yourself really hate them if you wish), should free you up to be generally nicer to the rest of the world. 

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