Difficult money conversations.
Money is hard to talk about. Which is exactly why we need to talk about it.
Money is never just about money. So until we can get clear on what we’re actually talking about, money will remain an uncomfortable—if not painful—part of our lives.
Oftentimes when I think of money, I think of cash. Or of credit. Something with measurable value. A day’s pay for a day’s work. I want so badly for money to be this black and while.
Only money isn’t black and white. It’s every shade of grey.
When we talk about money, we might be talking about an exchange of cash for goods or services. We might also be talking about power, access, privilege, oppression, racism, economic injustice, gender, bodies, disability, politics, or any other facet of our complex world.
And as much as we try to hold money as something sterile and separate from what’s going on around us, it’s never going to be that. So we might as well get curious about how exactly we need to talk about money.
I am hyper-conscious of this at the moment as I figure out what’s next for me professionally. While I have gotten a lot clearer about my value as a writer and coach, there are still some edges I’m bumping up against when it comes to difficult money conversations.
Here are some of the questions I’m asking myself as I explore how to talk about money with my writing clients. My coaching clients are a bit different because they’re coming to me specifically to talk about money.
That being said, some of these points could apply to both my writing and coaching clients.
How do I bring up the topic with future clients about the importance of money not pulling focus from the work the money is supporting in a way that gets through to them? While my onboarding process involves a contract, automatic payments, and the verbal communication of this boundary, I keep having to mediate my clients’ money drama in a way that is exhausting and detrimental to the projects we’re collaborating on.
How do I let my clients know that I don’t need or want to participate in conversations about their money drama that don’t involve me? I spent years reassuring my clients when they’d freak out about their finances. Not only was this not what I had signed up to do, it somehow made me responsible for at least part of that stress which caused even more money drama—now involving me—down the line.
How do I set clearer boundaries around money and expectations for projects that are not fully defined from the beginning? Or, in other words, when working on a project that’s evolving over time, how do I prepare myself to ask my clients to pay me more once it’s gotten bigger than the original mandate?
These are some of the questions I’ll be asking myself—and my clients—as I move into this next iteration of my professional practice.
They feel like difficult questions to ask and necessary conversations to have. I’m certain that until I learn how to address these edges early and often, I’m going to keep ending up in positions where money consumes everyone’s attention and the project and/or professional relationship falls apart.
So, what feels like an edge for you when talking about money?