I Would Really Like to Pay You… Please!?
I have a truly lovely massage therapist. I kind of adore her. She does this thing where she cascades her thumbs down the muscle that makes it feel like a waterfall flowing over you. It’s pretty much as amazing as it sounds.
I like other things about her too. She collects Wonder Woman stuff (she’s named after Lynda Carter), she plays board games and chats about geeky subjects. Despite being a pretty fit and active person herself she has never once made me feel like less valuable or worthy because of my size. And she sends me texts to remind me about my appointments.
I would totally invite her over to the house to play board games or watch movies, she’s that kind of person.
Which is good, because if cascading waterfall massage was the only reason I went to her I might have stopped going to her by now.
I Love You, Please Let Me Pay You
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of working with an indomitable Wonder. (I love her too, but for totally different reasons.) I had hired her for an hour session and we ended up going over the time, and not just “We chatted extra…” time, but quantifiably over what was scheduled to be mine and she worked much of that over time.
So I asked to pay her. She’s a mother with small children. She was paying childcare to show up with me. The kids had waited patiently all that extra time. Not to mention I was wildly grateful for the sense of control and direction she had given me. I didn’t just want to pay her, paying her was the right thing to do.
But she wouldn’t let me. Even though earlier in the conversation I had told her the Lynda story. She still refused my payment.
The Lynda Story
A few weeks ago I missed my massage appointment. I bailed at the last minute. After Lynda had texted me the night before to remind me and everything. It was totally my fault. I was super late and someone after me wanted 90 minutes so I couldn’t be made to fit now that I was late. Lynda told me I’d have to pay for the session. Of course, yes, it’s totally my fault.
Then we booked an appointment for the next day (because Lynda is wonderful and someone cancelled).
I went to my appointment. Had my glorious waterfall cascades massage. And then I went to pay. But the amount was wrong.
“What’s *insert number here*? That doesn’t seem right?”
“Yes. It’s today and half of yesterday’s appointment.”
“But that’s not right. I owe you for all of yesterday’s appointment.”
“No. It’s ok. You’re paying for the 30 mins the client after you dropped.”
Turns out the 90 min session person decided upon arriving they only wanted 60 minutes. Lynda has a robust waiting list but it was too late to fill in the hour and a half our two changes left her hanging.
“So you’re telling me that you lost 90 mins of fees yesterday and you’re only charging me for half of mine?”
“Yes. It’s fine.”
No it’s not fine. Let me fucking pay you damn it. I tried but she refused to take my full fee and I don’t carry cash so…
Let Me Fucking Pay You Damn It!
I know Lynda and the Wonder are being kind. They are being generous and gracious and telling me they too enjoy working with me and want to honour me as a person. I get that. But not taking my money when I ask to give it to you, that usually means other more personal stories are influencing you.
There’s definitely a reason they are dismissing my money.
Like, they turned down money. No strings attached. When you do that it’s definitely time for you to give some thought as to why it was so hard for you to take the money owed you. Because if you are a Wonder or a Lynda, a lovely and kind and generous person who truly loves her clients and feels honoured to get to work with them and has a hard time taking the money you are owed…
Well, you are making things awkward for me. In my brain I know: I owe Lynda $50. And I have no way to pay it back!
Paying you is how I honour you and the service you provided me. It’s how I act like a mature adult who takes responsibility for not wearing her watch and totally leaving someone I respect hanging.
Delivering more than you promise. Giving me extra time or a free service. Discounting something for me. These are all super generous of you and it is ok for you to offer them to me if that feels right and true for you. But when it comes from a maybe not centred place (like maybe part of the problem is you don’t feel comfy asking for or taking the extra money even though you earned it) or when I want to pay you – like I specifically cancel my too small payment and ask you to correct it – then it’s not ok. Because it makes me feel like I’m carrying a debt around with me.
A debt between friends might be ok. The Wonder and I arranged to barter for the extra time and I’ll get even with Lynda later, our relationships aren’t going anywhere. But a debt between you and a random client? Chances are that client won’t come back. Because it feels squiggy. And they owe you and that’s all they can think about but you won’t take their money and having your money stuff projected on us is uncomfortable.
Usually when we, as business people, talk about what we charge and why, we are thinking about the payment as being for us. But that’s wrong. Or at least, incomplete. Being able to pay you is for your client too.
So stop making it hard for me to give you my money and let me pay you, damn it.