I have observed many colleagues of mine who very politely but firmly refuse the so called urgent projects.
I have also observed and sometimes suffered from misjudgement by colleagues who value the urgency but cannot match, causing much tension and heartburn at the last moment.
Now why should a freelancer take an urgent job ? There can be three reasons
- Instinct to help or bail-out. Bailing out is not monopoly of the Government and not only banks are the beneficiaries. We all bail out and also hope that we will also be bailed out.
- Fear of saying NO – This needs no explanation as most of our sufferings come from not saying NO at the proper time. Decency, temptation, fear, niceguy addiction – all combine and we reap the consequences.
- Earning More – Nobody, especially a freelancer can argue against earning more money if the situation presents itself. However, the argument is not against earning money but qualifying the word and its understanding by us – earning. Is it cash, future revenue, reputation, competence, respect. If it is cash and cash – go for it but just have a check whether you are losing something more in value or not just because you are not able to map and articulate the value in cash.
- Working Hands are urgently empty – This is a scenario whose contradiction I shall illustrate by an example. In South Calcutta, there is a doctor who has publicly displayed ‘Urgency Fee, $ 50’. I happened to be inside his chamber and very innocently asked – ‘Considering you are attending some urgency and another call comes and demands double urgency, what will you do ?’ He was angry with me but the logic was too much for him. The thing applies to a language doctor like you. What if ? Three hours after the urgent project is being worked upon, you find another more urgent. What will you do ?
I am not trying to confuse you by putting hypothetical (but welcome in a sense) situations and I am aware that probability of such congruence of events are rare.
But what is not rare is that many people are always in urgency. Corporations are nothing but black-body radiators of urgency. As soon as you are within the critical radius of a corporation professionally, you shall be bombarded with urgency.
The intelligent thing is not to curse and grumble. Neither it is sensible to run away.
The crucial thing is to ask – How urgent is the urgency ? This game should be played both ways.
1. To the Corporation – It is urgent, sure but have you checked everything to make sure that we really don’t have any buffer ? The ball goes to the big fellow’s court and from YES/NO, the game has shifted to the negotiation space. In that space, you hit the most-vulnerable part of a corporate employee – his or her insecurity which reflects as urgency, release and waiting for the next urgent. You comfort the person and all the while run your negotiation game at the background. For this to take place, you have to be knowledgeable about the corporate employee’s working system and that needs reading and framing and asking important questions.
2. To yourself – How urgent it is for me to hold ? How much is the worth of letting it go ? Where shall I draw the line ? How much the rope of negotiation be loosened ?
Experience shows that a temporary loss or erring on the side of being firm pays. The Corporation is also aware that in 48 hours it will not be remembered that the thing was delivered on time but quality wise if it bombs, her/his appraisal will be poor. So, it will also vacillate. During these moments of oscillation, you release your spray of comfort and balm.
But these ‘games’ are in the domain of High Art. High Art can be learnt at the price of huge amount of time and effort but cannot be taught.
However, on a broader arena and in a grand scale, books on such subject are being written. I shall recommend two : The Art of War by Clausewitz and The Prince by Niccolo Macchiaveli.