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  • Writer's pictureSusan Carr

There are always two sides to a story.

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

One disadvantage to freelancing is having to look for and bid on jobs daily.

Through this constant challenge, I have realized that I will encounter people who can make the first task of my day sometimes rather frustrating.

I am a copy and line editor by trade, but I have started to put myself out there more for writing projects. The other day, I put a proposal in for a job writing articles about personal growth and self-help topics. I’ve written on these topics before, so I thought it would be a good fit.

I took time to ask questions about the requirements of the job. After waiting two days for a response (which should have been a red flag itself), I finally determined that it was something I could pursue. I had more questions; however, the job poster was not forthcoming with more information. Instead, their response was, “Let's just take this first step and see how it goes.”

And so I accepted the offer.

And then everything changed.

  • Extra guidelines on writing were added because the articles were for different company blogs.

  • Distinct formatting guidelines were added that had to be followed with each writing.

  • I had to ensure that I was only writing in the client's voice, even for multiple companies.

In the end, after doing all the topical research, researching the specific company I was writing for, and following all the different guidelines, I would have made less than $10 an hour attempting to write 1200-1500 words.

So, I politely responded to the client and let them know that, with the additional and altered requirements, I no longer thought I would be a good fit.

And this wasn't well received, unfortunately.

I respectfully accepted the “feedback” provided to me once I backed out of the agreement, even though it was very negative and genuinely felt like an attack.

Which reminded me of something.

After Hurricane Ian came through our area, a few days later, I saw this on the fence in the backyard. A considerable-sized hawk was enjoying his breakfast.

And I was afraid.

Afraid his breakfast was Bertrand.

I slowly walked out there and surmised that his breakfast was, in fact, a snake.

And I was relieved.

Not only was he not consuming my squirrel but also because he was ridding the world of another snake.

Bertrand was doing fine and came out a bit after the hawk left to begin his breakfast routine. I told him he needed to be aware that there are attackers out there. To be on guard and keep a watchful eye.

I thought the hawk had attacked my squirrel and was harming him, but he wasn’t.

With this client, I felt attacked, too. But was I being harmed?

I felt completely justified in not moving forward with the job and did not feel justified in being verbally attacked. After all, they changed the requirements after I had accepted an agreement.

But then, I realized there are two sides to every story.

Maybe this person was having a terrible day.

Maybe they were on a tight deadline and weren’t anticipating having to repost the job.

Maybe they're used to not being questioned about the jobs they post and just expect that things will be done their way every time.

So, I tried to extend grace to the person and offered some of my feedback, also very respectfully, with the hope that it would provide them with some insight. Could you help by giving as much information as possible when posting a job so freelancers know the expectations upfront?

However, this feedback was also not well received.

This made me realize that I cannot control how someone responds to me.

I can only do what I feel is right in response to what they do to me.

It’s essential not to assume someone is attacking you because their words may “feel” this way. Try and recognize that a person could be in a mentally-challenging situation or feel pressured to get a job done. Their words may come across as personally attacking you when instead, they’re just frustrated.

In the face of a perceived attack, extending grace is not easy. But it can help you put into perspective what the other side of a story is.

And one day, you may need someone to extend grace to you because you’re having a tough day.

“I give grace because I so desperately need it.” – Lysa Terkeurst

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