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October 13, 2014
All You Need to Know About Freelancing Etiquette, You Learned in Kindergarten
“Don’t hit people” is one of the first rules you learn in kindergarten. It applies, literally and metaphorically, to adult life as well.
I recently had a dispute with a vendor over a bill because of some items that weren’t delivered. Instead of taking care of the problem, the vendor “hit me.” He replied with a nasty email that his company didn’t carry those items any longer. No refund of money. No apology. Nothing but an unprofessional email.
Although I did eventually get my money back, I won’t use this vendor again. Not only that, I won’t recommend him to anyone else either. In a time when I can get most things more cheaply and easily online, I choose (usually) to buy locally. However, I expect to be treated as a valued customer. In this case, I’ll buy the products he sells from another vendor online because he didn’t value my business.
He’s a small business owner. He attends local networking meetings. He’s trying to grow his business. He could have just apologized and issued a refund, and I would have continued to use his company. Instead, we both have bad feelings.
Unlike in school, where we’ve got a teacher to help us learn to get along, he and I will probably always have bad feelings. If only he’d paid attention in kindergarten!
All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum has some important lessons for freelancers:
Share everything. There’s plenty of business, so share.
Play fair. How you treat people is how you get treated. It’s the law of karma — what goes around, comes around.
Put things back where you found them. Keep your life organized.
Clean up your own mess. When you make a mistake, admit it. No one is perfect and everyone makes messes.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Be honest with your clients, your friends, and yourself.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody. “I’m sorry,” goes a long way towards mending hurt feelings and making wrongs right.
Wash your hands before you eat. Practice good hygiene. Dress appropriately.
Flush. Take care of the dirty work behind closed doors. Being authentic doesn’t mean your whole life has to be transparent.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Find enjoyment in small things.
Live a balanced life. As a freelancer it’s easy to get caught up in working all the time. The lines between your personal life and your business get blurred, so make time for family and friends.  
Take a nap every afternoon. Take a nap in the afternoon (it’s a benefit of freelancing!).
When you go out in the world, stick together. Introduce people you know to each other. Be kind. Be a connector.
Wonder: Read good books, have deep discussions, and ponder. Wondering and asking “What if?” keeps creative juices flowing.
Goldfish and hamsters...they all die. So do we. Don’t take yourself too seriously.
Remember the Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned: LOOK. Observe everything. Life changes fast.
And of course, don’t hit people, which I’ve discussed above.
So remember what you learned in kindergarten. It applies to freelance life as well.

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Julie Gubler is a creative copywriter who enjoys writing special reports, ebooks, and other corporate materials. She thinks of her clients as Heroes, and of herself as their Sidekick. She’s committed to helping her clients look their best, and blogs about boosting their superPOWers at http://www.hero-stories.com. All business Heroes need to look good in print, and Julie helps them POWerup their printed materials at http://www.hero-printing.com.
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