Sunday, 28 September 2008

Free Planning for the neighbours?

I've found the ideal solution to "Predictably Irrational": a friend has lent the book to me. I'm now about half-way through and it's not bad: Dan Ariely has an amusing way of putting things and his writing does have you questioning things you do in your work and in your own life.
On that very topic, the chapter on social and market norms is of particular interest to me as a freelancer, as I think that what is work and what is social is probably even more blurred for us than for employed folk.
I now know why I feel uncomfortable when neighbours ask me to run a workshop or do some positioning work for their business: I know I can't charge them my normal rates, however much they insist, nor do I really want to do it for free. I can also understand the unpleasant feeling (this hasn't happened to me yet) when a "friend" suddenly produces an invoice for that brand name brainstorming you had over a couple of glasses of red wine.
Dan Ariely has the answer: these are all instances of when social and market norms become blurred: "Asking a friend to help move a large piece of furniture or a few boxes is fine. But asking a friend to help move a lot of boxes or furniture is not - especially if the friend is working side by side with movers who are getting paid for the same task...Similarly, asking your neighbor (who happens to be a lawyer) to bring in your mail while you're on vacation is fine. But asking him to spend the same amount of time preparing a rental contract for you - free - is not."
There are also interesting implications for relationship marketing. Again, Dan Ariely has the answer: "If you're a company, my advice is to remember that you can't have it both ways. You can't treat your customers like family one moment and then treat them impersonally - or, even worse, as a nuisance or a competitor - a moment later when this becomes more convenient or profitable."
Interesting stuff. Now, I wonder if I should offer my friend money for the loan of the book or not?

1 comment:

Manuel said...

In this blog I expose something similar, though my idea is less brilliant than Dan Ariely's approaches. The Spanish university is very bad, I am sorry.