Last week, I reached out to a consultant for information about life coaching. I had been reading through his book and decided that it might be beneficial for me to speak to him one-on-one.
After reviewing his website, I contact him by email to find out his rates. I am taken aback when I realize that his rates are approximately double the highest price I was expecting to pay.
As I pray and think about how I would like to proceed, I surmise that I can choose to respond in one of five ways:
1) Complain. I can’t afford to pay the consultant’s fee right now. Out of sheer frustration, I choose to take on a ‘woe is me’ victim mentality, deciding that the situation is not to my liking and seems helpless.
2) Downgrade the consultant because I’m not convinced that he’s worth what he’s asking for. I try to convince him that he’s worth less than what he’s asking for so that I can get a deal. If the consultant is truly confident and knows his value, this won’t work. If he doesn’t, he may cave. I may instantly feel better about my current financial situation and inability to afford him. Chances are, though, that he’ll feel undervalued and resentful that I didn’t respect him enough to pay anywhere near what he was worth.
3) Look elsewhere because the cost is too much. I decide that the consultant legitimately isn’t the right fit, or maybe I’m just unwilling to pay the cost. If the consultant isn’t the right fit, I may find similar help elsewhere and ultimately end up with what I’m looking for at a rate I can afford. The other possibility is that I’ll find a consultant who offers me some of what I need, but that I’ll miss out because I’m not willing to sacrifice.
4) Do my research and ask questions. Is the cost reasonable? Is it warranted based on the consultants’ expertise, reputation and other qualities? I might be the problem because I’m too cheap to pay the consultant what he’s worth, or the consultant could actually be the problem. Maybe now isn’t the time to cut and run. Maybe I just need to find out the going rate. Could it be that the consultant is overpriced?
5) Save up. I recognize the consultant’s worth and value. Although I can’t pay right now, I’m willing to be patient, delay my personal gratification and prepare for the future.
After running through this mental exercise, I consider my relationships and boundaries by comparison. A lot of us women (and men) settle in our friendships and relationships because we’re afraid to end up alone, we’re impatient and/or we’re not fully convinced that God will come through for us. We see other ‘consultants’ with ‘clients’ and wonder if we’ve made a mistake because we don’t have any.
As a woman who has been (and continues to be) single for most of my life, I put myself in the shoes of the consultant. How might I respond to a guy who approaches me in each of the five ways? Let’s revisit the five options with consultancy and relationship in mind.
1) Complaining never solves anything. I have a tendency to do this when I feel like my current life circumstances are unfair or if I feel a sense of helplessness or lack of control. On days like this, I do well to remember (but usually forget) a portion of the serenity prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
2) Life is not a flea market. You don’t get to barter and downgrade just so that you can afford to take something, or in this case, someone home. If you can’t wholeheartedly respect someone’s boundaries, it’s better to just let go.
3) Know when to hold ‘em. This can be the hardest scenario to deal with, so I’m going to park here for a while. It can be difficult to let go of a potential client because you’re not willing to budge on your cost. Similarly, letting go of a potential love interest can hurt, but it’s better than settling for someone who doesn’t respect your boundaries or the work you’ve put into becoming who you are (see scenario two).
Part of the reason we struggle with this one is that it may take a while (or even a lifetime) for another client/love interest to come along. I’m not going to mince words. This scenario can definitely suck at times. I think this is where a lot of people struggle, myself included. At times I feel lonely and it gets to me.
You’re watching all your friends get married, wondering when it will be your turn. Why am I still single? Is there something wrong with me? Maybe I made a mistake when I broke up with [insert name of your ex here].
It can be especially hard to watch ‘the client’ move on and find happiness with another person while you remain clientless (i.e. single). But does that truly mean you made a mistake? Not necessarily.
I’ll stop here. I could probably write an entirely blog post on this topic alone (and probably will).
4) You have unrealistic expectations. Maybe the client is actually right. Your price is way too high and you need to adjust in order to be more competitive. Where relationships are concerned, your boundaries are really walls that God has been trying to address, but perhaps you haven’t been letting Him.
This is another scenario that can be a hard pill to swallow. No one likes to think that they may be single for a valid reason, but it’s worth considering. Maybe you have unrealistic expectations for what a relationship should be like or a distorted view of the type of person you really are.
If we find ourselves in a situation where someone is willing work with us and ask questions, we’d do well to consider if God is trying to teach us something. It could still turn out that the consultant and client will part ways, but they’ll both be better for it.
5) Be flexible and open with this type of person. The person who is willing to save up is not trying to disrespect you. They’re just not used to spending this kind of money. Offer them a payment plan. You probably won’t regret it.
Is it possible for someone to be the right person at the wrong time? I think so. Maybe one or both of you have some maturing to do. Taking things slowly and developing a friendship might pay off in the end.
So, all things considered, what did I decide about the consultant in question? I decided I’m going to save up and check him out for one session. In the long run, it may turn out that he’s not the life coach for me. Or, this could turn out to be a life-altering experience that I won’t soon forget.