I’m an accountant, and my friends always ask for tax help. How can I tell them I’m tired of doing favours?
Just because you’re close with someone doesn’t mean you’re obligated to offer complimentary services – and this goes for any profession. Donating your time and services for free can actually strain the friendship because you may grow resentful if the relationship feels one-sided. Whether you’re willing and available to help them or not, it’s key to establish clear boundaries with mates so you can continue to enjoy their company without awkwardness. Three strategies to use with a pal who wants your help:
If you’re willing to help a friend just this once.
When she has a quick, one-time-only question you can answer off the top of your head, by all means give her your advice. But let her know that, in general, you’d rather not talk shop during brunch.
If you’d prefer not to mix work and friendship.
Gently turn her down by saying, “The answer to your question is more than I can get into over a quick call. If you are interested in knowing more, I’d recommend hiring a pro who can put in the time and effort you need.” Then tell her you’re happy to refer her to someone in the field. If she seems put off, say that you prefer to keep work and social life separate.
If you wouldn’t mind her hiring you for real.
Let her know you are happy to help but as a professional, not as a friend. Then explain your fees up front so it’s clear she’ll need to pay for your services like your other customers. On that note, avoid giving discounts – it’s important to respect your time, and your friends should do the same.