I’m an ac­coun­tant, and my friends al­ways ask for tax help. How can I tell them I’m tired of do­ing favours?

Women's Health Australia - - ASK -

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.

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